Man fined for failing to clear nature reserve site

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A man from Waltham Abbey has been prosecuted by Epping Forest District Council for failing to clear waste that was adversely affecting the character and visual attractiveness of land within Roding Valley Meadow Local Nature Reserve.

Prosecution

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Former underground bunker site

Mr Raymond Sturgess of Stanford Court in Waltham Abbey was successfully prosecuted in June 2018. He failed to respond to a notice served on him requiring him to remove waste, plastic, card, building materials and household items from the former Royal Observer Corps underground bunker site, which he originally intended to renovate when it was bought in 2015.

Fined

Sturgess pleaded guilty and received a reduced fine of £200, was ordered to pay £200 towards the Council’s prosecution costs together with a statutory victim surcharge of £30.

Ample time to comply

During mitigation Mr Sturgess told the Magistrates that was unable to comply with the notice because he had injured his knee, he claimed that vandals and fly-tippers had gained access to the site and were responsible for the mess.

The Magistrate concluded that Sturgess had ample time to comply with the notice and they did not accept everything he had told them.

Largest remaining water meadow

The bunker site sits within the Roding Valley Meadow Local Nature Reserve. The Wildlife Trust manage the site and describe it as ‘the largest remaining water meadow in Essex’.

It is reputedly famous for it’s beautiful wild flowers, butterflies, invertebrates and birds. It is important that this site is preserved for its resident wildlife and for future generations to enjoy.

Check hygiene ratings this Food Safety Week

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

As part of National Food Safety Week (4 – 10 June 2018), Epping Forest District Council has partnered with the Food Standards Agency, to shine a light on food safety and the team working to help ensure that the food we buy and eat is safe and honest.

Public Health team

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We love our food, there’s simply no denying it. In fact, as a nation, we spent over £203 billion on food and drink last year alone. But the safety of our food is often something we take for granted. There are a whole host of people that work to keep food safe. The Council has a team of dedicated Environmental Health Officers whose job it is to inspect local food businesses to ensure hygiene standards are up to scratch.

The Rating Scheme

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme helps people choose where to shop for food and where to eat out by giving them clear information about the businesses’ hygiene standards.

Find the sticker

There are six hygiene ratings ranging from ‘0 – urgent improvement required’ to ‘5 – very good’. Businesses are given green and black stickers for display at their premises and all ratings are published online, so people can make more informed choices about where to buy and eat food. The vast majority of food businesses in and around Epping Forest are ranked generally satisfactory, good or very good.

80% rated 3 or above

80% of businesses inspected in Epping Forest received a food hygiene rating of 3 or above, under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. The scheme covers businesses supplying or serving food direct to consumers such as restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways, food vans or stalls, canteens, hotels, supermarkets, schools, hospitals and care homes.

Dedicated and hard working team

Epping Forest District Council’s Environment Portfolio Holder Councillor Nigel Avey said: “We have a dedicated team that work hard to ensure that food is safe in Epping Forest so that residents and visitors can dine out with peace of mind. Research shows that food hygiene when eating out is the UK’s number one food safety concern so we are really pleased that the majority of our local food businesses hold a rating of 3 or above.”

Angela Towers, Head of the Food Hygiene Rating Team at the Food Standards Agency said: “Working in partnership with Epping Forest District Council and their expert Environmental Health Officers we are dedicated to ensuring that people can trust that the food they buy and eat is safe and honest. Our Food Hygiene Rating Scheme empowers the public to make informed decisions about where to buy and eat food, it’s also proved hugely effective in driving up standards in food businesses across the country”.

Further information

Turn your engines off for Clean Air Day

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Councillors, Countryside and wildlife, Environmental health, Epping, Health, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Prosecutions, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Epping Forest District Council’s main focus for Clean Air Day on 21 June 2018, is to help reduce air pollution by tackling idling vehicles, particularly outside schools.

clean air day

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Risk of hefty fines

Epping Forest District Council has adopted legislation to deal with idling cars. It is now an offence to withhold information or fail to switch off your engine if requested by an authorized officer. You could be taken to court, convicted and fined up to £1,000.  Alternatively, an on the spot fixed penalty notice of £20 can be issued by authorised officers.

Air pollution

Leaving engines running while stationary is a significant source of air pollution. Combating this is particularly important in locations where there are high numbers of idling vehicle engines, such as outside schools and hospitals. Not only is idling harmful to the environment but it can be harmful to the vehicle itself and your pocket – as it wastes fuel.

Modern cars no longer need to be warmed up in advance and the act of restarting the engine does not cause damage to the vehicles as it used to with older models. In fact, it can do more damage to keep a stationary vehicle idling than to switch off the engine.

Linked health issues

There are several health issues linked with poor air pollution including:

  • Increased respiratory conditions such as Asthma, coughs and bronchitis
  • Reduced birth weight of babies and premature births
  • Links to Lung Cancer
  • Increased risk of death from cardiac and respiratory issues
  • Possible links to incidence of Dementia, Type 2 Diabetes and Bladder Cancer

Small changes

Environment Portfolio Holder, Councillor Nigel Avey said: “Turning off your engine when stationary is just one of the small changes that can be made to help improve poor air quality. Thursday 21 June sees the return of Global Action Plan’s “Clean Air Day” which the Council are supporting to help increase awareness and reduce air pollution.”

“We have provided local schools with toolkits and promotional materials to help them plan their own Clean Air Day events and on the day Enforcement Officers will be in place at some school gates, to help educate those who still have their engines running while waiting for their children.”

What can I do?

Some of the other small changes you can make to improve air quality include

  • Use your feet! Leave your car at home and walk! Stick to routes away from main roads and boost your steps
  • Use public transport. If it’s too far to walk, go by bus or tube – try alternative methods
  • Car share. Is there anyone you can share your journey with?
  • Maintain your car. Having well inflated tyres and an empty boot helps use less fuel
  • Getting a new car soon? Look into alternative options such as hybrid, electric or LPG

Further information

If you would like more information on Clean Air Day and how you can be involved

Chigwell man guilty of damaging protected tree

Written on . Posted in Business, Chigwell, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Environmental health, Media, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Prosecutions, Regulations, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

At Chelmsford Magistrates Court on 5 April 2018 Mr Vinod Kumar Pandhi of Chigwell Essex pleaded guilty to causing or permitting the cutting down a hornbeam tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

Damaged hornbeam Chigwell

Causing damage to a protected tree

September 2017 tree and landscape officers were notified that a hornbeam tree had been cut down in the garden of 12 Tomswood Road Chigwell.

The tree was protected by a Tree Preservation Order made in 2009 and no consent had been given for the work carried out.

Failure to provide details

Interviewed under caution Mr Pandhi  stated that he was unaware that the tree was protected and believed it to be causing damage to his house, although no usual investigations had been carried out to verify this.

Mr Pandhi claimed had asked workmen carrying out work in a neighbour’s garden to cut down the tree in his property, but failed to provide details of the contactors to Epping Forest District Council to enable them to carry out further investigation, with a view to also prosecuting those directly responsible for carrying out the work.

Over £1,800 in fines

Having pleaded guilty Mr Pandhi was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay the Council’s prosecution costs of £813.73 and a victim surcharge of £100. The fine had been reduced by one third as a result of Mr Pandhi having pleaded guilty at the first hearing and took account of his current finances.

More information

For any inquiries regarding tree protection orders (TPOs) and conservation areas please contact

Pair fined for eyesore garden

Written on . Posted in Community, Environmental health, Loughton, Media, Our activities, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Prosecutions, Recycling and waste, Residents, Uncategorized, Your area, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Mr Salinder Minhas and Mrs Parminder Minhas of 3 Alderton Close Loughton Essex were successfully prosecuted by Epping Forest District Council in April 2018 for failing to comply with Notices served on them under Section 215 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 requiring them to clear rubbish from the front and rear of their property.

3 Alderton Close Loughton Essex

Failure to remove building materials

At Chelmsford Magistrates Court on 5th April 2018 Mr. & Mrs Minhas each pleaded guilty to the offence of failing to comply with the Notice served on them on 23rd November 2017.

The notice required them to remove building materials, paint pots, plastic items and cardboard from their front and rear gardens and from the flat roof of the garage which were adversely affecting the visual amenity of the area. They should have complied by 21st December 2017.

Over £800 in fines

The Magistrates fined Mr Minhas £110 and ordered him to pay £308 towards the Council’s prosecution costs together with the statutory victim surcharge of £30.

Mrs Minhas was fined £100 and ordered to pay costs of £308 and a Victim Surcharge of £30. The fines had been reduced by one third due to Mr & Mrs Minhas pleading guilty at the first hearing and also taking into account their current financial situation.

Given every opportunity to clear the land

Having seen the photographs taken by the Council the Magistrate told Mr & Mrs Minhas that he was not surprised that neighbours had complained about the state of the property and the Council had quite rightly brought the prosecution having given them every opportunity to clear the land.

Mr & Mrs Minhas informed the court that they would now fully comply with the Notice.

Failure to do so renders them liable to a further prosecution with a possible fine of up to £100 for every day that they do not comply from 5th April 2018.

Report it

If you suspect any planning breaches get in contact with our team via email

Landlord fined £21,575 for illegal HMO

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Crime and safety, Environmental health, Epping, Licensing, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Private housing, Prosecutions, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Epping Forest District Council successfully prosecuted and fined Mr Veli Bunul £21,575, when found operating an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO) and breaching legislation designed to protect tenants.

HMO Licence

The Council was called to inspect a three storey family town house in Tillingham Court Waltham Abbey, found to be occupied by three separate families, each with young children, all sharing one kitchen and two bathrooms.

Potential tragedy

Housing 11 occupants, the property was overcrowded, had inadequate fire precautions or a safe means of escape in event of an emergency.

Basildon Magistrates court was particularly concerned about these failings which could have potentially led to lives being at risk and tragic circumstances.

The Court heard that Mr Bunul of Chase Side, London E14 had ignored all of Epping Forest District Council’s warnings about his responsibilities to licence the property and his obligation to make it safe.

He alleged he was unaware that the property was being occupied by several families, claiming someone else collected the rent on his behalf. The court did not find this a reasonable excuse and so carried his conviction alongside a hefty fine.

Zero tolerance

Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor Syd Stavrou said, “We will not tolerate landlords who rent properties which fail to meet standards.  The Council has a commitment to ensure that private landlords in the Epping Forest district do not take financial advantage of vulnerable tenants and put their lives at risk.  We will not hesitate to prosecute landlords who show a disregard for the law and their responsibilities towards occupants”.

New licensing rules

The Government are bringing in an extension to the  current licensing regime. From 1 April 2018, any property with five or more people from two or more households will require a licence regardless of how many floors there are in the property.

Landlords must comply with licence conditions to ensure properties are safe for the amount of people occupying them. In addition, minimum space requirements are to be imposed to prevent exploitation by overcrowding.

Advice to Landlords

Landlords that currently operate a licensable HMO in Epping Forest District (3 or more storeys, occupied by 5 or more people living as 2 or more households) but do not currently hold a licence should contact the Council’s Private Sector Housing Team immediately to avoid prosecution.

Anyone operating such an HMO without the appropriate licence is committing an offence, risks a criminal record and an unlimited fine on summary conviction.

Other landlords operating or thinking of operating an HMO that will fall under the new licensing regime from 1 April 2018 are encouraged to contact the Private Sector Housing Team for further information and advice.

Advice to tenants

If you think you may be living in a property that requires a licence and one is not displayed in the property, or you are concerned about the property conditions, please contact the Private Sector Housing team on the details below.

Contact

Pair found guilty of damaging protected oak trees

Written on . Posted in Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Crime and safety, Democracy, Environmental health, Media, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Private housing, Prosecutions, Regulations, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Your area, Your council, Your environment, Your money

Mr Mark William Wright of Abridge and Mr Danny James Swift of Romford Essex were each found guilty of causing, or permitting works to 2 oak trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

Damaged Oak trees Abridge

Unauthorized works

In June 2017 tree and landscape officers were notified of work that had been carried out to the branches of 2 oak trees on land adjacent to Tudor Oak 9a London Road Abridge Essex.

Officers were aware in March 2017 permission had been granted for limited work to be carried out to the trees, but upon inspection in June they found branches on both oaks had been far more excessively cut than authorized.

This ultimately caused serious damage to both trees and increases the risk of decay. No consent would have been given for the extent of the work carried out.

Further investigation  

Further investigation revealed that permitted work had been carried out to the trees in May 2017 by council contractors, who had spoken to Mr Wright at that time and informed him that the trees were the subject of a Tree Preservation Order.

When interviewed under caution both confirmed Mr Wright had employed Mr Swift to carry out the unauthorized work and that neither had checked with the council as to whether the trees were protected.

Damaged Oak trees Abridge

Over £3000 worth of fines

8 February 2018 at Chelmsford Magistrates both Mr Mark William Wright of Tudor Oak 9a London Road Abridge Essex and Mr Danny James Swift of Highfield Road Collier Row Romford Essex were each found guilty of causing or permitting works to 2 oak trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order without the authorisation of Epping Forest District Council.

Having attended court although leaving before the hearing, the Magistrates accepted that Mr Wright had intended to plead guilty and he was fined £440 for each tree and ordered that he pay a contribution towards the Council’s prosecution costs of £600.

Mr Swift was fined £660 for each tree and ordered to pay a contribution towards the Council’s prosecution costs of £600.

More information

For any inquiries regarding tree protection orders (TPOs) and conservation areas please contact

Businesses beware bogus Council Officers

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Crime and safety, Environmental health, Epping, Food safety, Licensing, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Out and about, Prosecutions, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Businesses beware, bogus Environmental Health Officers and Licensing Officers have visited businesses across Essex, issuing fake on the spot fines for non-compliance and asking for annual fee payments in cash.

Council tax scam warning

The Council has received 3 reports of individuals falsely presenting themselves as Epping Forest District Council Environmental Health Officer’s to food establishments within the Waltham Abbey area.

The imposters demanded the business owners pay fines for not complying with regulations.

Licensing scam

Licenced businesses within Essex have also received visits from individuals pretending to be Council Licensing Officers, requesting licence fees be paid in cash.

These people are very convincing as they know how much your licence is and they also use the names of real licensing officers.

Real Council Officers

Real Environmental Health Officers and any of the Council’s Licensing or Enforcement Officers will be happy to let you see their badges to check their identity.

On the back of their badges, you will find a list of their authorisations and a telephone number, which you can call to verify they are who they say they are. Remember you are well within your rights to request to check their authorisations and be especially careful if they do not allow you to do this.

Environmental Health Officers and Licensing Officers will not ask you to pay an on the spot fine or take cash from you.

If a scammer calls

If you are in any doubt as to whether someone demanding money from you is legitimate, you should contact the Council as soon as possible to check his or her identity. Do not pay them.

Report it

If you suspect you have been visited by a bogus caller please contact the Council and the Police as soon as possible.

Essex wide Livewell campaign launched

Written on . Posted in Arts, Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Democracy, Environmental health, Epping, Equalities, Food safety, Health, Loughton, Media, Museum, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Our performance, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Livewell, a countywide website to get Essex healthy has been launched.

Livewell campaign image

Working collaboratively to promote health

The Livewell campaign sees all local authorities, including Epping Forest District Council and health partners, work collaboratively to promote positive health and wellbeing by providing public health advice, activities and events tailored to the needs of local residents.

The Council’s local museum, arts, sports, social and Forest Countrycare events will be available on the site.

Check out how to Livewell

The website aims is to encourage Essex residents to be more active and to make healthier lifestyle choices for themselves and their families. It focuses on more effectively tackling county-wide issues affecting the 12 local authority areas together.

Take the #21 Challenge

To celebrate the website launch, residents are being encouraged to take part in a number of #21 challenges – a nod to the fact that it takes 21 days to break or create a new habit.

The first part of the campaign is #21situps21days, Residents can find out more information on:

Post-Christmas is a good time to think about improving lifestyle choices, lose weight and live a happier, healthier and longer life. The 21 day theme of the project, the number of days it is thought we need to break a bad habit or establish a new one also has the support of Public Health England. Anyone can try and it is fine to start with an easy goal. An occasional day off is also fine but the message is ‘don’t stop, just let that go and do as best you can towards the 21 days’.

Claypit Hill fly tip led to arrest and prosecution

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Crime and safety, Environmental health, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Prosecutions, Recycling and waste, Regulations, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Mr Loredan Ilias of Gascoyne House, London, was ordered to pay a fine and costs amounting to £1686.81 after pleading guilty to flytipping on forest land in Claypit Hill, Waltham Abbey.

Waltham Abbey Fly tipping

Evidence gathered by the Council’s Environment & Neighbourhood team led to a prosecution in Chelmsford Magistrates Court on 14 December 2017.

Found guilty

Mr IIias pleaded guilty to the offence of fly tipping paving stones, rubble and roofing material. He had failed to attend a number of hearings in 2016, leading to a warrant being issued for his arrest. Mr Ilias admitted to fly tipping from a Mercedes Sprinter van on 10 January 2016.

The Magistrates stated that it was a serious offence and a reckless act in a place of Special Scientific Interest.

Fined and prosecuted

He was ordered to pay a fine of £739 together with the Council’s prosecution costs of £724.81 and a Victim Surcharge of £73. The Magistrates also ordered Mr Ilias to pay compensation for clearance of the waste of £150 to the Corporation of London.

‘Blight on environment’

Environment Portfolio holder, Councillor Will Breare-Hall said: “Fly tipping is a selfish and criminal act and a blight on the environment. We recognise it is a growing problem across Essex but it will never be tolerated in Epping Forest and we will continue to pursue the offenders. Those convicted of breaking the law in this way can expect to receive heavy fines.”

Further information