Senior Councillors joined Epping Forest District Council`s Environment and Neighbourhood Officers (ENOs) on patrol in Ongar, Theydon Bois and Waltham Abbey last week. From small-scale littering to fly-tipping and graffiti, they saw some of the problems the new service has been set up to tackle.
Picture caption – Councillor Di Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council with Richard Gardiner, Kevin Bagshaw and Richard Thomason (ENOs) at the Borough Car Park in Chipping Ongar
We have a beautiful district and the vast majority of our residents want us to keep it that way, said Councillor Di Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council. Unfortunately, there is a small minority that feels differently and it is a constant struggle to clean up after the fly-tippers, vandals and graffiti vandals. The introduction of our new Environment and Neighbourhood Officers along with the Environmental Response Unit will make a major contribution to tackling such problems.
Picture caption – Environment Portfolio Holder Councillor Mary Sartin accompanies Environment and Neighbourhood Officers John Heppell and Steve Anstiss on patrol in Waltham Abbey.
Plans for the new service were drawn up by Environment Portfolio Holder, Councillor Mary Sartin last year. With savings identified from efficiencies across other parts of the Council, £250,000 has been invested in the team and equipment. The new Environment and Neighbourhood Officers received their uniforms last month. With the highly-recognisable response vehicle and uniformed staff, Councillor Sartin hopes people will talk to the Officers on patrol to report problems.
She said: We want to be high profile and accessible so people will tell us where the problems are. The Environment and Neighbourhood Officers have a range of resources to call on and we aim to deal with them as quickly as possible.
Picture caption – Councillor Penny Smith in Theydon Bois with members of the Environment and Neighbourhood Team (Chris Smith, Richard Gardiner and Kevin Bagshaw) looking for evidence that could link dumped rubbish back to the fly-tippers.
Contractors such as Sita UK, the Council`s domestic waste collector can handle many jobs such as fly-tipping on highway land. The Environment and Neighbourhood Officers can also call upon contractors to remove graffiti. Many of the jobs are relatively small and can be completed quickly by the Council`s own Neighbourhood Response Officers, who can be seen around the District in their distinctive response vehicle. Councillor Penny Smith, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, met some members of the Team at the site of some fly-tipping near Theydon Bois. She said: Fly-tipping is a big problem for private landowners, too. They are often innocent victims who bear the cost of this anti-social behaviour. If the rubbish is dumped on their land, they have to pay for the cost of removal which seems unfair but is the law. I can`t understand the mentality of people who cause this kind of damage and cost to their fellow citizens. It is such a shame.
Councillor Smith said: Sometimes it is not immediately obvious who the landowner is and it can therefore take much longer to clear.
The Neighbourhood Response Officers and Environmental Response Vehicle are additional resources to help deal quickly with small, normally visible problems that are often difficult and time consuming to follow up, whilst the ENOs investigate, raise the issue with the landowner to try and prevent the problem recurring and pursue or educate offenders. ENOs have Community Safety Scheme Accreditation which means they can also require people to give them their names, issue fixed penalty notices and carry out investigations.
Councillor Smith added: Our Officers have a range of powers. Householders also need to make sure they employ reputable contractors. If our Environment and Neighbourhood Officers find evidence linking a fly-tip to you, expect them to ask you for evidence that you have acted reasonably. Remember, fly-tipping carries a fine of up to £50,000.
Councillor Smith concluded: We all want to keep our district clean and green. Please help us to succeed.
Picture caption – ENOs have Community Safety Scheme Accreditation which means they can also require people to give them their names, issue fixed penalty notices and carry out investigations.
To contact the Environment and Neighbourhood Team:
- call our dedicated reporting number on 01992 564500
- email firstname.lastname@example.org