Car park ‘fury’ traders’ invitation

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Out and about, Parking, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Your community

An open invitation has been issued to ‘Furious’ traders featured in a local newspaper to watch a recording of the car park debate with the Leader of Epping Forest District Council. Councillor Lesley Wagland has asked the Epping Forest Guardian to forward the invitation to Loughton traders interviewed by the newspaper about council car park charges.

“I want the traders to see and hear what we actually said before reaching their own conclusions,” said Councillor Wagland.

The unusual step has been taken by concerned councillors trying to build support for high streets and local traders. Councillor Wagland said: “We have no intention of putting up car parking charges whatever the headlines might say. I think anyone at the Cabinet Committee meeting would have understood that. We looked at an independently-produced set of suggestions including car parking, solar panels and advertising to see if any were worth pursuing. In the current economic climate, councillors soon made their opposition to raising parking charges crystal clear.

“Councillors do not live in a bubble. Whatever our political parties, we all live and work in our community and care deeply about it. I would like the traders of Loughton and across the district to see that by sitting and watching the actual debate with me. If they remain ‘furious’ afterwards, I will gladly listen to their concerns.”

Finance and Performance Management Cabinet Committee held on Monday 21 November was open to the public and press. It was held three days before the newspaper was published. The meeting was webcast live and uploaded to the council website for subsequent viewing by residents, business people and reporters. The report, funded by the Improvement East Efficiency Challenge Fund (not the Council), contains a detailed financial analysis prepared by Price Waterhouse Coopers looking at ways to save money and increase income – something all councils are doing as they deal with cuts in Central Government funding. The full report is also available online.

Watch the webcast on revenue income optimisation

Epping Forest District Council is currently working closely with the Federation of Small Businesses, Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce and other business organisations to support the local economy. The One Shops Local website is a campaign to encourage local residents to use local shops and services.

 

6 December 2011

Dominic Yeatman
Assistant Editor – Epping Forest Guardian
8 Simon Campion Court
Epping
Essex

Dear Mr Yeatman,

I was dismayed by the reports in your newspaper that traders in Loughton are furious at council plans for car parking charges. However, rather than argue the details of the proposals as presented in your article and editorial comment on 24 November, I would like to present the full webcast of the meeting to the traders at a personal meeting. Having enjoyed the benefits of reading the full report prepared by Price Waterhouse Coopers and watched the unedited webcast of the debate, I will then offer each trader the opportunity to explain their concerns personally to me.

I would therefore be grateful if you would forward the invitation as set out below without delay:

To
Suvhash Shah – Tony’s Hardware, The Broadway, Loughton
Neil Tohen – Tuscany Restaurant – High Road, Loughton (NB I understand this may actually be Mr Cohen)
Nataleah Brandy – Hob Hairdressers – High Road, Loughton
Nigel Skinner – (Former Taxi Service Operator) – Waltham Abbey
Becky Elliott – Loughton High Road
Jo Alexandrou – Loughton High Road
Amy Leggett – Loughton High Road


Dear Loughton Traders,

I was dismayed to read the impression attributed to yourselves in the Epping Forest Guardian (24 November) of Epping Forest District Council’s apparent interest in increasing Pay and Display Council Car Park Charges. ‘Fury’ is a powerful emotion. Given the somewhat different impression of the Council’s position shared between myself and other councillors, I believe a misunderstanding may have arisen.

Epping Forest District Council in common with other councils is looking at ways to reduce costs and increase income to balance the cuts in public sector funding announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. An opportunity to examine some possibilities arose thanks to funding from the Improvement East Efficiency Challenge Fund. Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) was engaged to give us a dispassionate view. Epping Forest District Council is already well-managed financially. PWC looked at a range of options but eventually agreed that only three were potentially viable – increased car parking charges, advertising sales and solar panels.

It was not for PWC to take a political decision regarding the viability of each proposal. That was a matter for councillors elected to represent the interests of the community. That is what we did, recommending the dismissal of the notion to increase charges three days before the publication of the newspaper.

I am a passionate advocate of the local business community. I want to see a thriving local economy with busy high streets and high quality services provided at affordable prices to our residents. I believe in competition but I also believe the Council has a key role to play in providing the right environment in which the local economy can flourish.

However, I understand that in these cynical times, it can be hard to take the words of a politician at face value. I therefore want to offer you the opportunity to study the evidence for yourselves. I would like to invite you to meet with me at the Civic Offices in Epping. I would like to provide you with copies of all the reports and I would like to watch a recording of the full debate held at Finance and Performance Management Cabinet Committee with you. Having watched the unedited debate, I then want to give you the opportunity to tell me if you are still furious as reported and discuss what you would do in my place, had you been elected Leader of Epping Forest District Council.

Since your views were reported in the pages of the local newspaper and in fairness to the Epping Forest Guardian, I am issuing this invitation via the assistant editor, Dominic Yeatman. I have asked him to forward the invitation without delay.  I am also extending the invitation to him to attend our meeting where he may be able to explain the angle taken by his newspaper in presenting the story as written. I would be particularly interested to explore ways in which the Guardian might work with the Council, business community and partners such as the Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce and the Essex Federation of Small Businesses to encourage local residents back into our high streets.

Please reply to me at your earliest convenience via Mr Yeatman so that we can all find a mutually satisfactory date.

Yours sincerely


Councillor Lesley Wagland
Leader – Epping Forest District Council

Speed meeting for Youth Councillors

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Democracy, Local business, Meetings, Out and about, Supporting business, Young people, Your community, Your council

Epping Forest Youth Councillors accepted Harlow Youth Councillors’ invitation to visit the Harlow Civic Centre and to get to know each other by holding a speed meeting evening. Epping Youth Councillors ran through the rules for the evening, the main one being to have fun!

 Youth Councillor Daisy Morecroft said: “It was a great way to get to know each other as we only had five minutes per pair to talk about anything and everything. It was surprising to find Epping and Harlow had similar issues, such as poor transport, safety and the lack of activities for young people in the evening.”

To make it more exciting they scored each other on their listening skills, friendliness and how aware they were of young people’s issues. Ellis Spicer from Epping Forest Youth Council and Suliman Ahmad from Harlow Youth Council scored the highest points and each received a box of chocolates.

“It was a lovely evening and great opportunity to exchange ideas for projects and to meet people in the district. I enjoyed the whole evening,” said Daisy Morecroft.

Harlow Youth Council provided the wonderful fruit smoothie cocktails on the night and Epping Youth Council provided the cakes and biscuits.

Donation station for St Clare Hospice

Written on . Posted in Business, Chairman, Civic events, Community, Local business, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your community, Your council

Voluntary Action Epping Forest’s volunteer centre co-ordinator Christine Eyles organised a ‘Donation Station’ within the Civic Office in Epping for staff to donate unwanted items. These items were collected, cleaned and pressed ready to be sold in St Clare Hospice shops in Epping or Harlow.


Staff were asked to donate goods and drop them off at the ‘Donation Station’. To entice staff to take part all donations were ‘Gift Aided’ and each person donating items was entered into a prize draw.

The Chairman of Council Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens said: “In this throw-away age I think the idea of ‘Donation Stations’ are a great way to recycle and re-use goods that would otherwise end up in landfill and it is also a very easy way to boost stock levels for the St Clare Hospice shops. What a fantastic way to make a difference.”

Louise Hamilton Retail Sales Manager for St Clare said: “We could not run our shops without the generosity of the local community. We are really grateful to Christine for organising the donation station and all the Council staff who took part. In total the scheme generated approximately 50 bags of goods in just one week and Christine’s team of volunteers even helped us sort the stock to send to our shops in Buckhurst Hill, Epping and Harlow.”

Free advice sessions for local businesses

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Supporting business, Your council

As part of its ongoing support to local businesses in West Essex, Epping Forest District Council has arranged a series of free advice sessions with HM Revenue and Customs.

The sessions cover a variety of topics from basic record keeping to capital allowances and from employer responsibilities to completing tax returns.

Held at Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping, Essex CM16 4BZ, you can register for the free sessions by contacting the HMRC Business Education and Support Team by telephone on 0845 603 2691.

Tuesday 10 January 2012 – 10:15am to 12:30pm – committee room 1
Newly self employed (the basics) – registration, how national insurance affects you, record keeping, overview of tax returns, payments, penalties and VAT
Wednesday 15 February 2012 – 10:15am to 12:30pm – committee room 2
Business expenses and Capital allowances for the self employed – expenditure, car, van and motoring expenses, capital allowances for vehicles and equipment
Thursday 22 March 2012 – 10am to 12:45pm – committee room 2
Becoming an employer (what you need to know) – becoming an employer, employer responsibilities, online filing, National Insurance, PAYE tax principles, starters and leavers – P45 and P46 procedure
Wednesday 18 April 2012 – 10:15am to 12:30pm – committee room 1
Self Employed tax return online – how to register for self assessment online, how to complete the self employed pages of an online tax return, payments and penalties.

 

Digital TV UK Roadshow

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Local business, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your home

Just to let you know that the Digital UK Roadshow is coming to the District on the following days:

31 January 2012 – Rear of Waitrose, Queens Road Buckhurst Hill from 09.00 to 17.00.

2 February 2012 – Brook Parade, High Road Chigwell from 09.00 to 17.00.

7 February 2012 – Market Square, Sun Street Waltham Abbey from 08.30 to 15.00.

8 February 2012 – The Pleasance Car Park, High Street, Chipping Ongar from 09.00 from 17.00.

9 February 2012 – Sainsburys, Old Station Road Loughton from 09.00 to 17.00.

10 February 2012 – The Piazza, High Street, Epping, time to be confirmed.
 By visiting the roadshow you will be able to:
Find out when switchover is happening and the options for going digital. Look for advisors in pink, who can help with your digital TV enquiries.
Learn how eligible people can get a TV converted by the Switchover Help Scheme. Look for advisors in purple, who are there to provide specific information about the Help Scheme for those aged 75 and over and disabled people.
See technical demonstrations (e.g. how to retune a box) and put questions to Digital UK’s specially trained advisers.
Meet Digit Al* – Digital UK’s iconic robot, star of BBC and commercial television.

The whole of the region, covering more than 12 million viewers, will have switched to digital in April 2012. The local roadshows are great for you to meet the teams from Digital UK and the Switchover Help Scheme and find out what you might need to do and learn what assistance is available.

What help is available?
Visit the Digital UK website for help with general questions about getting digital TV and preparing for the switchover. There is also an advice line on 08456 505050.

There is extra help for older and disabled viewers from the Switchover Help Scheme, call free on 0800 408 7654 or visit the Switchover Help Scheme website

Is your business ready for the Olympic Games?

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Olympics, Out and about, Supporting business

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has produced a planning information booklet for businesses called ‘Preparing your business for the Games.’

It provides advice and guidance on things to do before, during and after the Games, so that you can keep your business running during 2012 and make the most of the opportunities next summer.

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be the largest sports events in the world and offer a once-in-a-lifetime chance to showcase the UK at its best.

It is also a great opportunity for businesses of all sizes and sectors. You may already be planning how your business can take full advantage.

However, like any large event, the Games will bring with them certain challenges. If your business is located near to a Games venue or a travel hotspot, you need to start planning as soon as possible to reduce any adverse impact that the Games could have on your business.

Games time runs from the start of the Olympic Torch Relay on 19 May 2012 to 9 September 2012, when the Paralympic Games end. While the impact on businesses will be greatest during the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games themselves, there may also be some effect to your business at other times during this period.

Some of the questions you should ask yourself are:

What if you don’t have enough staff?
What if your technology fails?
What if transport is disrupted?
What if your supply chain is affected?
What if access to your workplace is restricted?
You will be better prepared to respond to these challenges if you have given these factors some early consideration and have business continuity plans in place.

Some businesses already have comprehensive business continuity plans and where this is the case you should ensure that you review your plans to factor in the differences you may experience during next summer and that any contingency measures take into account the additional pressures of the Games.

Business continuity planning for the Games should follow existing good practice and you should:

Consider which aspects of your business activities are critical and assess how the Games may disrupt them.
Determine a strategy for dealing with this disruption so that your business can continue to deliver key services and products. This should take into account resources such as people, premises, technology, supplies and stakeholders.
Write business continuity plans to implement this strategy.
Test and exercise plans and review these in the run-up to Games time.
Embed business continuity so that its importance is understood at all levels within the organisation.
To download the booklet visit the London 212 Games event planning page.

Business leaders join forces for new charter

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Supporting business

Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses were joined on 15 September by representatives of Epping Forest District Council at the Lee Valley White Water Centre where the London 2012 Olympic canoe slalom takes place less than a year from now.

The ‘state of the art’ white water centre formed a spectacular backdrop as leading members of the Epping Forest business community gathered together.

Business charterLocal business and civic leaders have pledged their support to a new charter for business.

Civic and Business Leaders at the signing of the Epping Forest District Business Charter at the Lee Valley White Water Centre near Waltham Abbey on Thursday 15 September.

Under the terms of the Business Charter pledge, the signatories committed to:

  1. prompt payment – aiming to pay all invoices within ten working days but 20 working days at the latest
  2. buy local – seeking quotes from at least one local business when tendering and looking to purchase goods locally where they are available
  3. consult – and listen through One, the Epping Forest Local Strategic Partnership
    Business Champion support – ensuring support, communication and co-operation between the community, local business and public sector organisations

John Price, Chairman of Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce, introduced a high-powered panel of speakers at the signing; Councillor Lesley Wagland, Leader of Epping Forest District Council and Chairman of One LSP, Heather Thirtle, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Ian Wicks, Chairman of Essex FSB, Councillor Gagan Mohindra, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Economic Development and Epping Forest District Council’s Business Champion and Vance Rowe, manager of Cyclone Commerce Ltd and Vice-Chairman of the West Essex Alliance.

Vance Rowe spoke passionately about his background as a ‘Kiwi’ and his commitment to west Essex. As one of the prime movers behind the successful bid for Enterprise Zone status in Harlow, he spoke forcefully of the opportunities this would open up for Epping Forest.

Mr Rowe believed the Enterprise Zone focused on Harlow’s health and medical technology industries would need a whole range of support services potentially supplied from within Epping Forest. He also argued strongly for the importance of infrastructure ranging from upgraded broadband and transportation to teaching the right skills in schools and universities. In an appeal to the district’s young people he emphasised the wealth of opportunities available.

A key message within the Business Charter is mutual support between local businesses and the public sector. Especially in the current economic climate the importance of prompt payment emphasised by Iain Wickes of the Federation of Small Businesses resonated with attendees at the signing of the Business Charter.

Calling on local businesses to seize the opportunity, he felt there was never a bad time to start a new business. Using local suppliers when the price is right helped the local economy and was good for the environment too, he said.

Heather Thirtle reminded local business people of the track record of the Chamber of Commerce which was founded 62 years ago. Speaking at the White Water Centre, she reminded attendees of the potential for tourism offered by Epping Forest district. She called on members of the Chamber to go forward as ambassadors in the promotion of the district.

Councillor Gagan Mohindra set out his role as the link between business and the public sector. He reminded everyone that the council itself operates major contracts in partnership with the private sector, offering Sita as the council’s waste contractor and SLM, which runs the council’s leisure centres as prime examples.

He offered himself as the contact for local business. His role was to be an advocate for local business within the council and to help local business understand the policies and actions of the council.

Opening and concluding the speeches, Councillor Lesley Wagland repeated that according to the latest analysis, 86 per cent of retail spending by local residents was spent online or outside Epping Forest district. She called on the local business and retail community to go forward with the same constructive passion and drive shown by Vance Rowe and the other members of the panel. She believed that Government support for local areas would increasingly be taken away from traditional funding and replaced with incentives to support local drive and initiative. Epping Forest district needed to be ‘vital and vibrant in its own right’.

Councillor Wagland encouraged local people to heed the ‘Shop Local’ call. Epping Forest district is “A great place to work and live –people want our businesses to be successful and we are successful,” she concluded.

Green light for Harlow Enterprise Zone bid

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Supporting business, Your money

The economy has been given a major boost after the government gave the green light for an Enterprise Zone to be created in Harlow.

Essex County Council has welcomed the announcement by the Government that the Enterprise West Essex @ Harlow site is to become one of the 11 new zones across the country.

The announcement is expected to be marked with a visit by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, to the Enterprise West Essex site.

The Enterprise Zone (EZ) will create a new 126-acre area to support high tech and medical technology companies which could create up to 5,000 new jobs.

Companies setting up in an EZ area will benefit from a simplified planning process, superfast broadband access and in some cases relief from business-rates which could amount to a saving of £275,000 over a five-year period.

The Harlow bid was one of two bids submitted to the government by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), a strategic body focusing on cross-border economic growth in the region.

Essex County Council Leader, Councillor Peter Martin, said: “The government’s backing for an enterprise zone in Harlow is fantastic news. The thousands of jobs this will create both directly and indirectly will be a major boost not just to the economies of Harlow and Essex, but the country as a whole. Essex is a vital cog in the country’s economic motor, and this kind of initiative will ensure that we are in a position to continue to help drive the country forward.”

Councillor Andrew Johnson, leader of Harlow Council, said: “This Government backing is a great boost for Harlow during these difficult times and shows Harlow is most definitely open for business. Harlow already has a great name in technology and is superbly placed between London and Cambridge, with all the road, rail and air links any company could want. We want to attract and retain businesses in Harlow and support them in their growth whilst providing jobs for local people that match their aspiration. The Enterprise Zone status gives us that opportunity.”

Council Leader to meet Essex FSB

Written on . Posted in Business, Democracy, Leader, Local business, Supporting business, Your council

Councillor Lesley WaglandThe new Leader of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Lesley Wagland, is to meet with the Essex FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) on Friday 22 July 2011 for a special two-way briefing.

Essex FSB representative for Epping Forest, Tina Dulieu, said: Essex FSB has a good working relationship with Epping Forest District Council and we wish to see that positive partnership continue with the new Council Leader.

We are delighted that Councillor Wagland has been able to find time in her busy schedule for a meeting with Essex FSB representatives and we have a number of issues where we think by working together we can bring benefits for local businesses.

Among the topics of mutual interest on the agenda, will be initiatives for high speed, reliable broadband to be available across the district and also what encouragement can be given to local communities to make better use of the shopping centres that are at the heart of the communities which make up Epping Forest, including Chigwell, Debden, Epping, Loughton, Ongar and Theydon Bois, and to retailers to provide the service local people want.

We are looking forward to what we are sure will be the start of a good working relationship for the benefit of the Epping Forest economy.

Leader of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Lesley Wagland, said: More than 95 per cent of businesses in Epping Forest District are SMEs providing many hundreds of jobs and generating considerable wealth for the local economy.

“As the UK’s largest business organisation the FSB is a strong voice for such businesses and Essex FSB has a very good reputation for the positive way it works with local councils for the benefit of local businesses.”

“I have sought an early meeting with Essex FSB representatives to discuss the needs of our small businesses as I am sure that by working together we have a much stronger voice which can bring improvements for our area.”

Essex Region of the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) website

The FSB represents more than 200,000 business people across the United Kingdom and is the largest single organisation representing business interests in the country.

The South West Essex Branch of the FSB represents the interest of small businesses in the following postcode areas – CM13 to CM16, SS17, RM1 to RM20, and IG1 to IG11 – which includes Brentwood, Epping Forest, Havering, Redbridge and Thurrock Councils

Epping Forest College Reports Progress

Written on . Posted in Community, Local business, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community

Jeannie Wright, Principal of Epping Forest College spoke to councillors of Overview and Scrutiny Committee at Epping Forest District Council on 11 April. Ms Wright has now been at the college in Loughton for just over two years. Following extensive redevelopment, it has some of the most modern facilities.

Epping Forest College

Student numbers and achievements are both up at the college which offers a range of higher education opportunities and apprenticeships. The majority of students study to level two and level three (A-level equivalent) with many then progressing to university. Business Administration and Law forms the single biggest area of education but Ms Wright said the college offers almost everything except Agriculture. 

Most of the students live within six miles of the college. The college is also home to many local community groups and organisations. Adult education continues to form an important part of college life.

Last month OFSTED said the atmosphere is relaxed but industrious, staff morale is high and attainment is improving. As the reputation of the college improves, the intake of new students increases. The college is also in a stronger financial position as debts have been reduced. Jeannie Wright appealed to councillors to help the college build further links in the local community. 

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While young people will remain the main focus, Jeannie Wright also emphasised the importance of providing opportunities in adult education to help local people meet the challenges of a changing economy.

In response to questions, Ms Wright asked councillors to encourage residents to come into the college and use facilities such as the new library.