£5.1 million housing scheme discussed at Cabinet

Written on . Posted in Councillors, Democracy, Energy efficiency, Housing, Housing repairs, Leader, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Media, Meetings, Parking, Planning, Private housing, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Councillor David Stallan presented a list of potential sites for new council houses at the Cabinet meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 3 March 2014.

Council housebuilding

Reporting back from the Council Housebuilding Cabinet Committee, the Housing Portfolio Holder’s report identified a wealth of potential sites in towns and villages across the district.

12 sites, 6 of which could provide up to 185 dwellings were identified plus a potential £5 million scheme to provide 31 flats or more on the site of the council depot in Burton Road off the Broadway in Loughton. 6 small sites could accommodate another 26 homes for local people.

Cabinet approved recommendations of the committee to develop plans for various sites spread around the district’s towns and villages on a rotational basis so that all areas are able to benefit from new affordable housing.

Councillors also supported the development of sites in areas where most housing applicants live and that sites able to deliver greater numbers of new homes be prioritised over other areas where fewer homes can be developed.

Existing tenants and leaseholders can also look forward to a range of improvements to their homes after Cabinet agreed improvements and enhancements to the council’s housing stock.

Among the enhancements are

  • Front door fire safety replacement
  • Oakwood Hill Estate enhancements
  • Communal kitchen refurbishment – sheltered housing schemes
  • Mobility scooter stores – sheltered housing schemes
  • Garden maintenance for older and vulnerable tenants
  • WiFi at Norway House – homeless persons hostel
  • Feasibility study for replacement homeless persons accommodation at Norway House

Parking strategy

Local businesses and residents are to be consulted on Epping Forest District Council’s car parks strategy including tariffs for short and long-stay Pay and Display car parks.

Pay and Display tariffs have not been increased by the council for 5 years. However, Councillor Gary Waller reported with some regret ‘that all good things must come to an end’ and that some modest increase in Pay and Display was inevitable. Detailed long-term consideration of parking charges across short and long stay car parks would be incorporated into the consultation process of the new strategy.

Solar panels

Solar panels are to be installed at the main civic offices of Epping Forest District Council. The investment of £80,000 is expected to be recouped by the council through lower energy bills within 8 years. It will also reduce the council’s carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.


Flooding, be aware and be prepared

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Crime and safety, Drainage, Emergencies, Environmental health, Epping, Housing, Local business, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Our countryside, Out and about, Private housing, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

If flooding has been forecast where you live, listen to local radio or check the Environment Agency’s website for updates and news.

Driving through flood water

Environment Agency

Latest flood warning updates for the Epping Forest district (in alphabetical order)

Know what the levels of flood warning mean

  • Flood Alert: Flooding is possible. Be prepared
  • Flood Warning: Flooding is expected. Immediate action required
  • Severe Flood Warning: Severe flooding. Danger to life


Stay in touch

Listen for flood updates on BBC Radio Essex and Heart Essex Radio.

Get up-to-date weather warnings from the Met Office.

Advice to motorists to take care in bad weather from Essex Police.

Latest incidents from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.


Emergency planning advice from Essex County Council.

Information on emergencies from Epping Forest District Council.

The National Flood Forum is a national charity dedicated to supporting and representing communities and individuals at risk of flooding.

Practical tips and health advice in new flooding leaflet on gov.uk Flooding: advice to the public.

Flooding presents a number of risks to health – advice from Public Health England.

Do you know what to do with your animals if it floods? Advice from RSPCA.


Photos from around the district

View photos in a slideshow by clicking on a picture below and then click start slideshow.


Planning workshop for North Weald

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Consultation, Councillors, Housing, Local plan / planning our future, Media, North Weald Airfield, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Local residents are being invited to an interactive workshop on the future of North Weald Bassett.

The event is being held by Epping Forest District Council. It follows the decision by councillors to protect aviation in combination with limited housing development at North Weald Airfield over the next 20 years or so.

The views of residents at the workshop will feed into a council-led ‘Master planning study’ for the village of North Weald Bassett and the airfield which will also contribute to the new district-wide Local Plan.

North Weald Bassett community workshop 25 January 2014

Download the poster North Weald Bassett community workshop 25 Jan 2014 (pdf 6.2 MB)

Public participation

Councillor Richard Bassett, Planning Portfolio Holder wants to encourage maximum public participation. He said: “I think this is good news for North Weald. After years of uncertainty over the airfield, residents, airfield tenants and councillors are taking the initiative by producing the plans we want to see for the village. The workshop will be an intensive half-day of consultation and discussion designed to get the best ideas from local people who know the area best.”

The council has employed Allies and Morrison Urban Practitioners (AMUP) who are experts in the field to help produce the plan. The brief includes the identification of the viable mix of land uses and infrastructure for the village and wider area, long term Green Belt boundaries, potential development phasing, the relationship between the airfield  and the wider village, and ways to deliver the plans. Central to the master planning study is the commitment to maintaining aviation at the airfield while also planning for new homes, employment, services and infrastructure for local people.


Residents need to register in advance if they want to attend the workshop scheduled for 10.15am to 1pm on Saturday 25 January 2014.

The workshop is being held at North Weald Village Hall, High Road, North Weald, Essex CM16 6BU.

Shape the future of North Weald Bassett

Councillor Bassett added: “We have made a commitment to protect aviation at North Weald. In realistic terms we also know the airfield is an obvious candidate for limited residential development but I cannot emphasise enough that no detailed decisions have been made. North Weald residents turned out in large numbers at the district council to support our proposals last summer and this is the next stage in keeping that dialogue going. This is a genuine opportunity for residents to shape the future of North Weald Bassett. The interactive workshop is specifically designed to understand what the community thinks.”

Results from the workshop will be reported to councillors and published on the Epping Forest District Council website. The study will form part of the evidence in support of the Local Plan. Further consultation opportunities will be available to residents wishing to contribute to the development of the Local Plan and the North Weald study during 2014 and 2015.


North Weald Airfield covers 384 acres. It was established as part of the aerial defence of London in 1916. It played a major role in the Battle of Britain and will always be associated with the RAF Hurricane squadrons based there in the summer of 1940. The airfield is a symbol of national pride to the people of Norway. Strong cultural links later developed between the people of Norway and North Weald when the airfield became the main base for Norwegian pilots flying Spitfires under the flag of the RAF in WWII.

North Weald continued as an RAF fighter station into the 1960s, hosting a number of iconic ‘Cold-war’ jet squadrons. When the airfield became surplus to Ministry of Defence requirements in 1980 it was bought by Epping Forest District Council.

Today, the airfield is a thriving aviation hub and home for many rare and historic aeroplanes. It is also used by a number of other light industrial businesses including distribution companies. Various public events are regularly held at the airfield which is also home to one of Europe’s largest Saturday markets.

What is the Local Plan?

Find out more on planning our future – the new Local Plan.


It’s only a matter of time before we beat the burglars in Essex

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Crime and safety, Housing, Local business, Media, Older people, Out and about, Private housing, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

The independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers is launching a campaign to get Essex residents to tell what they know about any burglaries or stolen goods – and they could even get a cash reward.

Crimestoppers rewards poster 1

View photos in a slideshow by clicking on a picture below and then click start slideshow.

Ann Scott, Eastern Regional Manager for Crimestoppers, said: “Those that do not want to speak with Essex Police on 101 can use the Crimestoppers 24 hour phone number of 0800 555 111 where they can give information about crime 100% anonymously. Information can also be given online via a secure form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. People often ask me why someone would not contact Police if they knew about a burglary or someone handling stolen goods.

Sometimes, the offer of a reward can bring someone forward but generally it’s the sense of wanting to make their community safer without having to reveal their identity. If a criminal is operating down your street it can be a real concern for people that the criminal might find out what they have done – Crimestoppers removes that concern and gives people peace of mind”.

Stuart Rawlins, Chairman of Essex Crimestoppers added: “Being burgled is not just about losing possessions, it also robs you of feeling safe in your own home. People should be able to feel secure and confident in their homes. No one has anything to fear by contacting Crimestoppers as you will remain anonymous – no personal information is taken. Calls are not traced or recorded and you will not have to go to court or give a statement to the police. In the 25 years that Crimestoppers has been running we have never broken our promise of anonymity”.

The appeal by the charity follows a crackdown on burglary in the county by Police. Nick Alston, The Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, has funded this campaign, understanding that not everyone wants to speak with Police. Lindsay Whitehouse the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Victims of burglary not only suffer a loss of property but suffer from an acute sense of violation and trespass in their home. This initiative is intended to identify those who commit this appalling crime and bring them to justice. Anyone with important information should contact this telephone number. They can be safe in the knowledge that their anonymity will be protected. I hope that the whole community can unite to help Essex Police arrest these criminals and save more people from the dreadful experience of becoming a victim of crime”.

Crimestoppers plays a significant part in the fight against crime. 1,000 people every day contact the charity to put their trust in them with information about crime which leads to 22 arrests every day being made by Police as result of that information.

Members of the public are eligible to claim a reward of up to £1,000 if their information given to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 leads to a successful arrest and charge. They can also complete a ‘giving information’ form on the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org but rewards cannot be claimed this way.


Neighbourhood Development Plan for Chigwell

Written on . Posted in Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Consultation, Councillors, Countryside and wildlife, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Residents, Supporting business, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Local shopping at Chigwell ParadeChigwell residents are being offered the opportunity to shape the future of their area. Chigwell Parish Council has taken the first steps towards preparing a Neighbourhood Development Plan covering the whole parish by submitting an application to Epping Forest District Council.

Any Parish or Town Council can prepare a Neighbourhood Plan. The Plans give communities an opportunity to shape the way in which their local area develops over the coming years. Neighbourhood Plans must take account of the District Council’s Local Plan and can be used to develop a shared vision for the local area by:

• Suggesting where new homes, community facilities and other forms of development should be built;
• Identifying and helping protect important local green spaces; and
• Influencing what new buildings should look like.

Epping Forest District Council has a duty to publicise the proposal for at least six weeks but the consultation period has been extended to eight weeks to allow for Christmas. A copy of the application, along with further information on neighbourhood planning, can be viewed here.

Councillor Richard Bassett, Planning Portfolio Holder for the District Council said: “Neighbourhood Plans can be a very useful tool in planning future development and I hope as many Chigwell residents will comment on the proposals as possible. This is a consultation on the identification of the potential plan area, not a formal consultation on the Neighbourhood Plan itself, which will come later. The consultation commenced on 16 December 2013 and, in order to allow for the Christmas period, will run for 8 weeks until 5.00pm on 10 February 2014.”

Comments can be sent by email to ldfconsult@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or by post to:

Forward Planning, Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping, Essex CM16 4BZ.

Councillor Bassett added: “Please be aware that all comments received will be publicly available and may be included on our website. Personal details such as the respondents address, telephone number and signature will not be published.”

Images of Chigwell

What next

Neighbourhood Plans were introduced by Government through the Localism Act in 2011.

Once they have successfully completed the preparation process, Neighbourhood Plans will legally have policy status and will be used to help decide planning applications. Within the parameters set by the district-wide local plan, a neighbourhood plan must be used to positively encourage sustainable development.

Following the end of the eight week period, the District Council must decide whether to designate the proposed neighbourhood area. If agreed, the Parish Council may commence work on preparing the Neighbourhood Plan. A draft Plan must be subject to a formal 6 week public consultation before being submitted to the District Council for examination by an independent Examiner. If the Plan is approved, a referendum is held within the Parish to decide whether the Plan should be used by the District Council to decide upon planning applications within the neighbourhood area.

Within Epping Forest District, Moreton, Bobbingworth and the Lavers Parish Council are already working on a Neighbourhood Plan for their area.

Broadway ‘gateway’ building approved

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Housing, Leader, Local business, Loughton, Media, Meetings, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Planning permission has been granted for the redevelopment of the Sir Winston Churchill public house site in Debden Broadway.

Foul language and interruptions from the public gallery forced a temporary suspension of the District Development Control Committee at Epping Forest District Council on Wednesday 11 December 2013. Committee Chairman, Councillor Brian Sandler repeatedly appealed for members of the public to respect the process of the debate before other councillors voted to suspend the meeting and clear the public gallery. The meeting continued after a short delay with members of the press present. The debate was also webcast for live and subsequent viewing. Those members of the public choosing to stay were able to watch the debate from the council’s ground floor reception area.
Artists impression of the new development

View photos in a slideshow by clicking on a picture below and then click start slideshow.

The controversy surrounded a planning application at the Broadway in Debden. It comprised redevelopment of the site of the Sir Winston Churchill pub, and a number of lock-up garages owned by the council. The applicant planned to build a new 7 storey building with parking. 64 new flats were proposed for the upper floors with retail, food and drink units on the ground floor. 62 parking spaces, a service yard, access and car parking completed the plan of development.

Watch the webcast

Read the agenda

A section 106 legal agreement would require a contribution of £192,000 towards local primary and secondary school facilities as well as £14,400 towards health services.

Former councillor Joan Davis spoke on behalf of objectors to the proposal. She argued that it was an overdevelopment and out of keeping with other parts of the Broadway. She felt that parking and traffic congestion would be detrimental to existing residents and objected to the lack of an affordable housing element to the proposed scheme.

Local resident Christopher Holt argued that the height of the development was out of proportion and the shadow cast by the building could be dangerous to road safety. He called for further traffic assessments.

Town Councillor Jill Angold-Stephens spoke for Loughton Town Council. She referred back to earlier proposals for housing at a lower density and the inclusion of affordable housing. She described the current public house as an iconic gateway to the Broadway and asked the developer to think again.

Mr Simmons for the applicant referred to the council’s own development brief calling for more retail and business. He asserted that it would not mean the loss of a pub. He argued that the development would bring jobs and regeneration as well as new housing. He asserted that ‘affordable’ housing would make the scheme unviable but that the section 106 contribution of over £200,000 would bring much needed community investment. He felt that the development was in line with council policy and would stimulate future ‘affordable’ housing opportunities.

Mr Simmons said that the changes in traffic would be small and the development would bring many benefits to the area.

Councillor Jennie Hart, a local ward member spoke of the concerns around the loss of the Sir Winston Churchill. She also expressed concerns about the size and scale of the proposed development which she felt was out of keeping with the wider area. She was concerned about the potential disturbance to existing local residents and felt the lack of affordable housing in a deprived area was unacceptable. She asked the committee to consider a redesign on a much smaller scale with screening and landscaping.

Councillor James Hart felt that the Broadway would benefit from some redevelopment but he had concerns about the height and scale of this particular proposal. He noted that while it might be ‘much-loved’ the pub was not profitable. He proposed refusal based on the height and bulk of the proposed building.

Councillor Gary Waller felt that the proposal had merit. He said that it would make a very interesting addition to the Broadway scene and would also bring a considerable number of new residents with ‘purchasing power’ to the benefit of the wider area. Over time he felt it would benefit the area.

Councillor David Stallan supported the proposal and the comments of Councillor Waller while acknowledging some of the points made by Councillor Jennie Hart. Councillors debated the scope for landscape planting.

Councillor John Markham felt that the proposed building was a ‘decent piece of work’ but felt the architects should think again about where it should go. He also expressed concern about the omission of affordable housing from the proposal.

Councillor John Knapman described the decision as a ‘much closer call’ than people might think. He asked if the pub could be nominated as an asset of community value. It was reported that Loughton Town Council had discussed the idea but had not as yet reached a decision.

Councillor Knapman discussed the potential income from the redevelopment of the site towards future provision of affordable housing. However, he was more concerned about the commercial viability of the current pub. He balanced the merits of housing development on a brown-field site with the potential demand for future development sites elsewhere. He felt the economic advantages of redevelopment were clear. He asked if this was the ‘right’ building design.

Councillor Yolanda Knight felt that such a development could be a catalyst for regeneration. She drew comparisons with examples in Harlow and Chelmsford which she felt lifted the businesses around them.

Councillor John Philip explored some of the Highways issues. He felt that the shadow would not cause problems. He liked the design but raised issues about the size and particularly the height. Like Councillor Knapman, he felt the arguments were finely balanced.

Councillor Jon Whitehouse recalled the Broadway Development Brief which had supported the replacement of the existing pub but he was not certain that a development on the scale of the proposal had been foreseen.

Councillor Caroline Pond said that she felt the building was too big for the site. The college on the opposite side of Rectory Lane was set back from the road and landscaped whereas the proposed building would be more prominent.

Councillor John Markham also felt the section 106 contribution of £14,000 towards health services was insufficient.  

Councillor Leon Girling was not a member of the committee but spoke as a ward councillor. He argued that the residents of Debden wished to keep the essential character of the area. He agreed that some form of development on the site was necessary but not a building of this bulk and height.

Other non-committee members also spoke. Councillor David Wixley and Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens both felt the building was too large. Councillor Lance Leonard appealed to members of the committee to consider the principles of ‘localism’ in reaching their decision.

A motion to refuse the application on the basis of excessive height, bulk and lack of soft landscaping was lost by 5 votes to 8 with 2 abstentions. Committee Chairman, Councillor Brian Sandler then called a second vote in which councillors were reminded to set aside personal feelings and vote purely according to planning considerations. The committee voted 9 to 6 in favour of the planning application.


National empty homes week

Written on . Posted in Business, Housing, Housing repairs, Local business, Media, Private housing, Supporting business, Your area, Your council, Your home, Your money

Empty homeThis week is National Empty Homes Week

New research from Halifax and the Empty Homes Agency shows how strongly the public feel about empty homes. They want the government and local authorities to do more about them.

There is  no sound economic reason for an owner to leave a property empty.  An empty property can cost up to  £10,000 in maintenance, it can increase your Council Tax payments by 50% and your insurance premiums can increase. What’s more, you could be missing out on valuable rental income.

It’s in everyone’s interest to reduce the number of empty properties

To the owner – A property left empty is a wasted resource and can be costly in terms of increased insurance, increased council tax, emergency repairs, vandalism and arson.

To the neighbours – It is estimated that the home next door to an empty property can be devalued by  about 10%. There is also the worry of nuisance, vermin, arson, vandalism and anti social behaviour.

To the community – There are currently approximately 380 properties that have been empty for more than 6 months in the District. Empty properties provide valuable homes for local people; they reduce the demand for building on the Green Belt, and for every property brought back to use the Council receives a financial reward known as the New Homes Bonus. This can be included in the budget for providing services to residents of the district.

This Council is committed to reducing the number of empty properties on the district, and in some cases we can offer financial help. Bringing an empty property back into use can be difficult if it’s in a poor state of repair and cannot be lived in, let or easily sold. To help the owners we can offer:

  • Empty Homes Repayable Assistance, which offers up to £10,000 if there is an empty property in poor condition that you would like to live in yourself. The money is repaid when you eventually sell the property.
  • The PLACE Loan, which offers up to £25,000 to renovate a property in order to sell it or rent it out. This is an interest free loan and is paid back within 2 years if you sell, or 5 years if you let the property.

Tell us about an empty property

Report an empty home online

Give us the address, and any other information you may have, and we will do our best to contact the owner. We will work with the owner to bring the property back to use. All calls are treated in confidence.

More information?

For further information and advice or to report an empty property, please contact the Private Sector Housing Team



Film shows Ongar straw house build process

Written on . Posted in Community, Housing, Media, Private housing, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

A fascinating time lapse film showing the build process of the ‘straw bale’ houses in High Ongar has been released by the developers Hastoe Homes.

The 4 affordable ‘straw bale’ homes were officially opened by Eric Pickles MP in September 2013 and is the first development of straw bale housing built in Britain by a housing association.

The new homes are expected to save 85% on energy bills and have a double fire safety rating double the requirement of building guidance.

The carbon dioxide reduction involved in growing the straw also gives the buildings a low, or even negative carbon footprint.

The film includes interviews with

  • Ulrike Maccariello – Development Manager, Hastoe
  • Alan Hall – Director of Housing, Epping Forest District Council
  • Jestyn Williams – straw farmer, Williams Brothers farm
  • Jane Barnes – Employer’s Agent, AECOM
  • Chris Parsons – Architect, Parsons + Whittley
  • Steve Healy – Construction Director, DCH Construction
  • High Ongar residents

The film was produced by 7video – www.7video.co.uk.

Find out more

First affordable straw houses in UK opened by Pickles


Essex Landlord Accreditation Scheme plans unveiled

Written on . Posted in Councillors, Democracy, Housing, Media, Private housing, Your area, Your council, Your home

Plans to introduce a scheme to help prevent people renting privately in Essex from falling foul of rogue landlords or living in poorly maintained homes have been unveiled.

The Essex Landlord Accreditation Scheme (ELAS) will support landlords and give prospective tenants the peace of mind that the homes are safe and that they are dealing with reputable landlords.

The scheme is scheduled to be open to landlords from next May and has been developed by Essex County Council and Epping Forest District Council with Braintree, Chelmsford, Colchester, Maldon, Tendring and Uttlesford councils. Other local authorities will be able to join the scheme free of charge.

Landlords would pay up to £100 a year to join the voluntary scheme. They will be able to take advantage of a number of special offers specific to members of the ELAS and will be provided with advice, support and information on housing needs in areas across the county.

To be members of the scheme landlords will need to

  • ensure that their properties are in a suitable condition for letting and are free from significant hazards
  • ensure that all faults reported by their tenants are dealt with in good time
  • have valid gas and electricity certificates for their properties as required by law
  • lodge deposits provided by their tenants with a third party in line with statutory legislation

Housing authorities taking part in the ELAS will work with landlords to ensure they are meeting the required standards.

Essex County Council’s Cabinet member for Libraries, Communities and Planning, Cllr John Jowers, said: “With thousands of households living in the private rented sector across Essex, this scheme will have major benefits not just for those looking to live in these properties but also those owning them.”

“People will be able to see if their prospective landlord is part of the accreditation scheme or not and make an informed decision about their choice of homes. Apart from the additional peace of mind the scheme will give tenants, landlords will also benefit from being able to make savings, access to expert guidance and market knowledge.”

Councillor David Stallan, Housing Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council added: “The private rented sector is an often overlooked but growing and vitally important part of our local housing mix. Giving the best private sector landlords the platform to show how good they are makes great financial sense for them as well reassurance and peace of mind for their tenants. Over time it should also encourage other landlords to follow suite and drive up standards overall.”


Council pays tribute to former councillors

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Councillors, Democracy, Elections, Health, Housing, Jobs, Leader, Media, Private housing, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

Tributes to former councillors, new housing and the Citizens Advice Bureau were on the agenda of Council on Thursday 26 September 2013.


Councillors met for the first full meeting of Epping Forest District Council since the death of Councillor Colin Finn. Members showed their respect to Councillor Finn and former Councillor Derek Cousins who also passed away recently by observing a minute’s silence.

Warm tributes were paid to Councillor Finn who represented the residents of Loughton as a county and district councillor. Councillor Mary Sartin, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council led the tributes with Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens and others for a warm, polite and dedicated public servant.

Councillor Anne Grigg also spoke with warmth and affection of former North Weald Councillor Derek Cousins who served as a parish and district councillor until illness intervened.

Chairman Mary Sartin

£800 has been raised by Councillor Mary Sartin for her chairman’s charities with help from councillors and others who attended a garden tea party at her home beside the River Stort in August.

Councillor Sartin spoke with pride of the recent awards for the former Bobbingworth tip which has now received several awards for its transformation into a haven of peace and tranquillity for wildlife and local people. Councillor Sartin also drew attention to the opening of the environmentally friendly Straw Bale Houses at High Ongar which proved their weather proofing in pouring rain, for which more information is available in the chairman’s blog.

Leader Chris Whitbread

Councillor Chris Whitbread reported to councillors on a busy summer in which he has been working with colleagues from across Essex on joint projects and strategies to build economic investment. As a former pupil of St John’s School he was very pleased to attend the opening of the new secondary school in Epping and very impressed by the young people he met. Finally he drew attention to the council’s own steps to recruit young people into its new apprenticeship scheme.


Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor David Stallan responded to a question from Councillor Stephen Murray by saying he was proud of the council’s steps to restart council house building even though the current plans would not replace the many houses sold under the ‘Right to Buy’ over many years.

Citizens Advice Bureau

Councillor Chris Whitbread (Leader of Council) recommended that members with concerns about the future provision of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) attend a presentation and debate at the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Councillor Stephen Murray asked how the council might respond to plans for a centralised CAB service with outreach to the south of the district. Councillor Whitbread noted that Epping Forest District Council provided over £100,000 in funding for the CAB annually and was very aware of the important role it plays supporting local residents.


Councillors across the chamber supported a motion calling on the health authorities to explain the critical reports on Whipps Cross Hospital used by many residents in the south of Epping Forest District. Concerns were also expressed about the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Romford. Representatives of the health authorities will be called before Overview and Scrutiny to account for the failures in care and the measures to rectify the situation.


Councillor Antony Watts submitted the Annual Statutory Statement of Accounts 2012/13 for approval. He was pleased to announce that the auditors were happy with the accounts and the council remains a sound financial concern. No significant adjustments or weaknesses were identified and the unqualified reports approving the accounts and the value for money provided by the council will be issued shortly.

Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Syd Stavrou thanked Councillor Watts and the members of the Audit and Governance Committee along with the external auditors and the council’s finance staff for the production of the accounts. She noted that the value of the council’s assets had increased significantly and the outturn on the general fund was almost half a million pounds better than originally anticipated.

However, she also warned of on-going government consultations that could lead to significant cuts in future funding in 2014/15 and 2015/16. She said that difficult decisions would need to be taken going forward in order to protect the council’s financial position.


Council noted the date of the 2014 local elections has been changed by Parliament to coincide with the European Parliamentary elections on 22 May. Epping Forest District Council has postponed the date of the Annual Council meeting from 20 May to 10 June accordingly.