Council 25 September 2018

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The Burton Road fire, proposals for the St Johns Road development, the Epping Forest Shopping Park and the Epping Forest District Local Plan submission were amongst the topics of discussion at Full Council on 25 September 2018.


Burton Road fire

Council Leader, Councillor Chris Whitbread set the record straight in response to questions asked by Councillor Steven Neville relating to the fire at Burton Road on 17 August 2018.

Councillor Whitbread said: “Having read the comparisons with the Grenfell disaster on the front page of the local paper recently, we are concerned that sensational headlines will cause a great deal of unnecessary anxiety for potential tenants. Links with the Grenfell Tower do a disservice to the people involved in that disaster as well as families currently waiting for a new home on our waiting list.

He urged: “Burton Road is a completely different building and it is not yet finished. The fire was caused by a construction related accident, not the materials used. Unlike Grenfell, Burton Road only has four floors. The interior was practically untouched by the fire. Even if it had been possible for such a fire to start once the building was finished and occupied, all the evidence suggests people would have been able to escape unharmed. The building stood up remarkably well to the blaze.”


St Johns Road proposals

Options for a new leisure centre at the St Johns Road development site in Epping are being explored. Proposals are being discussed with the District Council’s current leisure provider Places for People and Epping Town Council.

The new leisure centre could form part of the larger St Johns development and could potentially include the first cinema in the town for decades, new shops, public open space and housing.


Local Plan progress

Planning Portfolio Holder, Councillor John Philip announced that Epping Forest District Council’s Local Plan, a set of policies to manage development within the district up to 2033, has been submitted for approval to the Planning Inspectorate.

The Local Plan’s submission was delayed following a Judicial Review brought by CK Properties in March 2018.


New leisure hub for Waltham Abbey

Council was given an update on the new leisure centre in Waltham Abbey by Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Communities, Councillor Helen Kane. She informed Council that the new health and wellbeing hub is now in the final stages of construction and is on target to achieve its scheduled opening on 17 November 2018.


It’s a ‘Crime Not To Care’

In a bid to combat fly-tipping and increase awareness throughout the district, the Cleaner Essex Group will be ‘recycling’ the Crime not to Care campaign this year to highlight issues caused by fly tipping and how residents can help.

The campaign, due to launch in October, will ask residents and businesses to ‘Check, Challenge and Record’ when handing their waste over for disposal – ensuring waste is kept out of the hands of the rogue traders that fly-tip for profit.


New brands at Shopping Park

Home Bargains and Boots Plc are the last two brands to join the group retailers at the Epping Forest Shopping Park in Loughton.

Home Bargains opened its doors on 1 September 2018 and the lease on the final retail unit has now been agreed with Boots Plc, with completion imminent pending approval of the shop fit out.


Funding granted for inclusion project

Councillors noted a report which referred to the grant of extra funding from Action for Children, for the Epping Forest Inclusion Project. The project provides an important resource, offering a wide range of sport and leisure activities for children and young people with disabilities and their families.

New leisure centre for Epping being explored

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The feasibility of providing a new community leisure centre and swimming pool to be built in Epping is being actively explored. Proposals are being discussed with Places Leisure (the leisure arm of Places for People), the District Council’s current leisure provider and Epping Town Council.

The new centre could form part of the larger St Johns development to potentially include the first cinema in the town for decades, new shops, public open space and housing. The councils have withdrawn from previous plans to sell the area to a private developer, Frontier Estates. Frontier had intended to build a mixed use scheme to include a supermarket, but changes to the retail environment have made the approach less favourable and the Councils are now actively pursuing the new leisure option with Places Leisure.

The proposals include the transfer of the District Council depot to its new headquarters at Oakwood Hill in Loughton, and freeing up the site of the current Epping Sports Centre for housing as set out in the draft Local Plan. New Town Council offices would also be built into the new plans.

Epping Forest District Council remains one of the few councils able to invest in new leisure services. Its property portfolio includes the new shopping park in Loughton, now adding to the Council’s income from other shops, industrial units and commercial properties across the district. Income from these properties allows Epping Forest District Council to set one of the lowest Council Tax rates in Essex while continuing to invest in major new schemes.

In partnership with Places Leisure, it has just completed improvements at Ongar and the current Epping centre, built a major extension to Loughton Leisure Centre opened last week, and is due to complete the brand new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre in November.

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council was delighted to make the latest Epping announcement with the Epping Town Mayor, Councillor Nigel Avey.

Councillor Whitbread said: “Today marks a milestone in the history of Epping. These plans can transform the heart of Epping, building on the current success story with an even better town centre. We are creating a wonderful new space to draw in visitors, providing jobs, leisure and housing. It would be a major boost to the local economy and a fantastic enhancement to our town.

Councillor Nigel Avey added: “Our two councils have a joint vision for Epping, our town and our community. It has been a long road, with setbacks, but both the Town and District have stuck to our guns in putting Epping first. With Places for People, we think we could find a private partner that has already demonstrated its local commitment through the provision of fantastic new community facilities across the district. St Johns would be on a larger scale with benefits to match.”

Public consultation on the new plans will take place in the New Year with outline planning permission being sought thereafter.

Background

Epping Forest District Council and Epping Town Council originally went into partnership with Essex County Council and a private developer, Frontier Estates, to redevelop the St Johns area of Epping.

The site comprises the former primary school, town council offices, and district council depot. From the outset the advantages of redeveloping the separate sites as a single holistic project made more sense than piecemeal redevelopment. The District Council took a major step forward when it bought the freehold of St Johns Primary School from Essex County Council as a means of ensuring that vision was followed.

Consultation with residents had previously altered the original design brief. Residents welcomed additional housing, shops and public open space but there was also a strong call for Epping to have its own cinema again, particularly for the benefit of the town’s young people.

Separately, an ongoing debate has been conducted over the future of Epping Sports Centre. Although the District Council has continued to invest in the Centre, its long term future has always been in doubt due to its location and construction. The site was identified for housing in the draft Local Plan, although the Council promised no plans would be made to close it until new facilities had been provided.

The new relationship forged between Places Leisure and Epping Forest District Council at its other leisure facilities around the district, combined with the opportunities at St Johns Road are crystalising into the new plans in partnership with Epping Town Council.

Other potential sites were also considered to replace Epping Sports Centre. Among other sites, a group of sports centre users had suggested an area currently owned by St Margaret’s Hospital and the District Council had also looked at reprovision at North Weald Airfield. Early investigations into the possibility of a joint-use centre with St Johns Secondary School had not passed feasibility discussions.

Apart from concerns over access and location, the cost of the St Margaret’s proposal involving the purchase of the land would have been prohibitive. North Weald Airfield and the largest part of St Johns are already owned by Epping Forest District Council, making each of these options much more affordable.

The previous aspiration to build an additional supermarket in Epping has been dropped.

With public calls for the new centre to be located as close as possible to the heart of Epping and customers not wishing to see a new North Weald facility lead to the closure of Ongar, the proposal to build at St Johns will come as welcome news.

Technical Background

  1. The St John’s Road redevelopment scheme is an important strategic project for the District, because of its ability to deliver both significant community and economic benefits.
  2. The site totals 3.68 acres and is in a prime town centre location. The original land ownership comprises of Essex County Council (former junior school) 2.59 Acres, Epping Forest District Council (Housing Repairs Depot) 0.59 Acres and Epping Town Council (Epping Hall) 0.54 Acres.
  3. The three public bodies have been working in partnership since the Junior School relocated to bring forward an appropriate redevelopment scheme.
  4. In recognition of the profile of the site and the high level of public interest a consultative approach with the local community has always been adopted, including a range of interested parties and stakeholders.
  5. As a result of public consultation the Council adopted a design and development planning brief for the site.
  6. The planning brief was for a mixed use scheme to include a food store (12,000sq ft) cinema, restaurants, ancillary retail use, car parking and up to 34 units of housing.
  7. In order to deliver the redevelopment the three Councils sought a specialist development company with the required expertise. After expressions of interest were received, Frontier Estates were appointed.
  8. After an extensive period of negotiation, which in order to ensure that the desired outcomes of the design and development brief were achieved, involved the purchase of the County Council’s land by Epping Forest District Council, it was anticipated that the final contracts could be entered into in the summer.
  9. However, it has not been possible to reach a final mutually agreeable position between the District Council, Town Council and Frontier Estates. The time taken to conclude negotiations has seen change in the retail market and Frontier Estates development risk increase.
  10. Therefore both the Town Council and District Council are now actively exploring an alternative which still delivers the community and economic briefs they both are keen to achieve for local residents.
  11. It is still the intention to pursue a mixed use scheme in accordance with the sites allocation in the submission version at the District Council’s Local Plan.
  12. However, the District Council is currently accessing the most suitable location for the reprovision at Epping Sports Centre which is ageing and constrained in terms of access. The St John’s site can now form part of this option appraisal.
  13. In the intervening period the District Council will continue to ensure the security of the site and keep residents updated.

Epping Forest District Council Local Plan submitted

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The Local Plan, a set of policies to manage development within Epping Forest District up to 2033, has been submitted for approval to the Planning Inspectorate by Epping Forest District Council. The news was announced by Planning Portfolio Holder John Philip at the meeting of the Full Council on Tuesday 25 September 2019.

EFDC local plan logos

Submission followed the end of a legal challenge by property developer CK Properties (Theydon Bois) Ltd after its application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal was refused. CK Properties had already lost its case following a High Court hearing.

Although the Council was successful on all four grounds in the judgment given by Mr Justice Supperstone on 29 June 2018, an injunction continued to prevent the Council from submitting the Local Plan to the Secretary of State for examination until the conclusion of the legal proceedings – this included the subsequent applications for leave to appeal made by the claimants.

11,400 homes by 2033

Councillor John Philip reminded fellow councillors of the key aims of the Plan which includes the delivery of 11,400 new homes over the plan period up to 2033. He congratulated the Council’s planning policy officers.

Councillor Philip said: “I am sorry for the uncertainty this unnecessary delay brought by a property developer has caused to our residents. From the very outset, this Council followed the best legal and technical advice. We were always completely confident of our case. Our approach was vindicated on all grounds at the High Court and again by the Court of Appeal last week.

“Now, at last, we can let the Planning Inspectorate do its job. The Plan will be properly scrutinised in the right forum of an independent examination, where the Planning Inspector will listen to all opinions and come to a proper objective assessment. The District can move forward with a Plan that acknowledges the need for change and growth while protecting the most precious things we love about our district and makes it the place in which we wish to live.”

Modifications expected

Councillor Philip expects modifications to the Plan following its Independent Examination. He said: “The Local Plan is without doubt the most complex project we have ever undertaken. Even with the years of care, consultation and diligent hard work put in by so many people including councillors, staff and residents, there are likely to be small amendments required following examination to take account of changing circumstances.

“I will keep an open mind and I urge fellow councillors and residents to do likewise. We can all welcome that process and look forward to engaging with the inspectorate in the most positive and constructive way. We have taken a major step forward and it is long overdue but the end is now in sight and I look forward to it with relish.”

Background

Planning applications for development are considered within the context of policies and regulations. Overall, councillors must have due regard to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which has a presumption in favour of granting planning applications unless there is good reason to do otherwise.

Councils can supplement this national guidance with a set of local policies tailored to the unique local circumstances of each town, district and borough. These policies are enshrined within a Local Plan.

The production of Local Plans must take account of national as well as local priorities for such things as the provision of new housing, employment, health care and leisure for a growing and changing population. Local Plans must show how infrastructure including roads, public transport and utilities including gas, water and electricity are to be provided.

Before a Local Plan can be adopted and used as a basis for making decisions on planning applications, it must be scrutinised and approved by an independently appointed planning inspector working on behalf of the Government. The Inspector will be looking to ensure the Plan is legally sound and meets all the requirements for national and local policies in a fair and consistent way.

This process is conducted in a transparent manner through Independent Examination. The Planning Inspector will scrutinise all the policies and supporting documents before hearing submissions and taking further evidence from interested people.

Inspectors rarely approve a Local Plan without any modifications. This is usually achieved in consultation with the authority to produce a final version for adoption by the Council.

Once adopted, the Local Plan becomes one of the most important means by which councillors can regulate and ensure appropriate development.

The Planning Inspectorate will schedule the Independent Examination of Epping Forest District Council’s Plan among ongoing examinations of other councils’ local plans. Once submitted, councils may have to wait several months before an examination takes place.

More information can be found at http://www.efdclocalplan.org/

Search on for Young Citizen of the Year 2019

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Nominations are now open for the Epping Forest Young Citizen of the Year Award 2019. If you know of a young person that deserves recognition, nominate them before Friday 30 November 2018.

Make a nomination now

The award, presented annually, recognises young people’s exceptional contributions to the Epping Forest District. This can be in terms of outstanding courage, service to the community or showing extraordinary commitment, energy and effort in a particular cause or achieving a particular goal.

11-18 year-olds living in Epping Forest district are eligible for nomination.

Awards evening

The finalists will be invited to the District Council`s Civic Awards in March 2019 where the winner will be announced and will receive £300 and a certificate of achievement.

Making positive contributions

Chairman of the Council, Councillor Richard Bassett said: “The Young Citizen of the Year Award highlights the positive contributions that young people make throughout our district in so many different ways. Many of these young people are unsung heroes and we want to recognise the tremendous contributions they make to their communities. So if someone springs to mind, now is the time to nominate them for this prestigious award.”

Make a nomination

To nominate a young person for the Young Citizen of the Year award either:

The closing date for nominations is Friday 30th November 2018.

Further information

Contact Paula Dunley, Youth Engagement Assistant

Epping Forest Civic Awards nominations open

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The search is on for Citizen of the Year 2019!

If you know someone that deserves recognition for the positive impact they’ve had within their community or a team that work hard to make a difference – nominate them before Friday 23 November 2018.

Prestigious award

Epping Forest District Council’s Chairman, Councillor Richard Bassett is hoping for a number of excellent candidates to choose from this year, he said: “The Citizen of the Year Award is such a prestigious award and I’m looking forward to seeing all of the nominations flood in!

“The Citizen of the Year awards highlights all of the positive work that happens throughout the district. There are people amongst us that go above and beyond to make others’ lives better and this is our opportunity to recognise their important contribution to our local communities.

“If you know an individual or a group of people that are worthy of either the Citizen of the Year or Team of the Year Award 2019, we want to hear from you! Please make your nominations before Friday 23 November 2018, stating your case for your nominee!”

Candidates need to be over 18 years old.

Further information

Contact Pat Seager for further information

£14.5m leisure investment for EFDC residents

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Loughton Leisure Centre’s £3m refurbishment was formally unveiled on Saturday 8 September 2018 by Cllr Richard Bassett, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council. The centre is one of three in Epping Forest that is undergoing refurbishment, alongside a complete new build at Waltham Abbey.

Over £14m investment

Investment in the district’s leisure centres tops £14m and has been completed in partnership with Places Leisure, Epping Forest District Council’s leisure activity and wellness partner.

Before cutting the ribbon and leading a tour of Loughton’s new facilities, Cllr Bassett paid tribute to the centre management and staff for keeping as much of the centre operational during the building works, and thanked users for their patience during the disruption.

New state-of-the-art facilities

The refurb brings new split-level gym facilities and multi-function movement studio spaces, a virtual spinning room, upgraded changing villages with new lockers, flooring and vanity units as well as better air conditioning.

The bulk of the project has been completed in 20 weeks with further work planned to the reception areas and heating and power units.

Councillor Helen Kane, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Community Services, EFDC Acting Chief Executive Derek McNab and Mayor of Loughton, Stephen Murray also attended the opening.

Health and wellbeing hub

“All of our leisure centres needed a makeover to keep them up to date and offering a welcoming environment for users. But in Waltham Abbey we had a wonderful opportunity to create a health and wellbeing hub in a new setting and I am really looking forward to seeing the finished project,” said Councillor Helen Kane.

Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre is being completely rebuilt on the old community centre site in Ninefields, as part of a major health and wellbeing initiative between Epping Forest District Council and Places Leisure, It is scheduled for completion in November.

Mathew Nicholson, Contract Manager for Places Leisure said “It’s an exciting time for leisure within our community, following the recent investment at Loughton and across our facilities. With the brand-new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre due to be completed in November we are excited to be able to offer an enhanced leisure provision within the area and more opportunities for our community to get active.”

Special opening offers

Check out the website for special opening offers at Loughton Leisure Centre www.placesleisure.org/centres/loughton-leisure-centre/centre-activities/gym/

Statement – Fire at Burton Road, Loughton

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Updated Information – 13.15pm on 17 August 2018

Essex Fire and Rescue Service have announced that the fire is now out.

We cannot speculate on the cause of the fire at the moment, that will come out following an official investigation.

The photo below shows the building now that the fire is out and demonstrates how remarkably well the structure has stood up to the fire.

Council Leader, Chris Whitbread said: “You can always rebuild bricks and mortar, the important thing is that everyone appears to be safe and the fire is now out.”

Original statement made – 12:00pm 17 August 2018

A development of new flats in Burton Road, Loughton has caught fire and the fire service are in attendance.

This is a development of new council housing being built for Epping Forest District Council. A £10 million design and build mixed tenure residential development of 51 affordable rent units, comprising of 17 homes and 34 apartments.

Councillor Chris Whitbread Leader of Epping Forest District Council is at Burton Road.

He said: “Our first concern is for the safety and welfare of all concerned. It looks like everyone is safe. Essex Fire and Rescue is on the scene and it is under control. These flats are still being built. This is a construction site and there are no tenants living here. However we are obviously concerned about everyone working on the site at the time the fire started.

“The development is being built for us by Mulalley – a large construction company with a long and successful track record of building major projects. It is too early to say what caused the fire but it is clearly large. Essex Fire and Rescue has cordoned the site off.

“Our first priority is to ensure people are safe. Neighbouring residents are being asked to stay in their homes. This is bound to cause some travel disruption and people are being asked to avoid the area if they can.

“The council has several roles: we are the client and this is a serious setback for us and all those people we are building these new homes for. More importantly in the short term we have a supporting role to the emergency services and would be in a position to set up rest centres nearby if required for neighbouring residents. At this stage our staff are on standby if rest centres are needed. We also employ specialist building control officers who will be at the disposal of Essex Fire and Rescue to assess the damage and ensure the buildings are made safe once the fire is out.

“In the longer term we will recover. Bricks and mortar can always be replaced and we will rebuild these much needed homes for local people. For now, our thoughts are focused on the safety of everyone living and working in the area.

Please visit the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service website for reliable advice and up to date information about the incident http://www.essex-fire.gov.uk/incidents/i7458/

 

Respond to the Annual Canvass by 21 August

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There are still 27,000 properties in the Epping Forest District yet to respond to the annual canvass. If you are one of those properties, respond online, by text or by phone before 21 August 2018.

Annual Canvass 2018

A couple of weeks ago, all homes in the Epping Forest District were sent a Household Enquiry Form through the post. Households are legally required to respond even if none of the details have changed.

You could be fined

Don’t ignore the form – if you do you may face a fine of up to £1,000. Please respond immediately if you have not already done so.

Complete your form by 21 August 2018 at the very latest.

Reminders are costly

Simon Hill, Electoral Registration Officer said: “Last year 60% of households used one of the automated response options but many more could have done, particularly if there are no changes to the details. Using them saves time and money.

“There are still 27,000 properties yet to respond. Please respond now to save us having to send out a reminder form which is costly.”

How to respond

Using the 2 part security code on your household enquiry form you can choose one of the following options:

If there are changes

  • Amend the information online easily and quickly online
  • Amend the form and return it in the prepaid envelope – please make sure you give a contact phone number or email address in case of queries.

Additions to your household?

  • Stage 1 is responding to the Household Enquiry Form
  • Stage 2 is completing the registration process for new electors at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Epping Forest Community Safety Hub opening

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A new joint District Community Safety Hub bringing Epping Forest District Council and Essex Police closer together in the fight against local crime was officially launched on 20 July 2018.

Community Hub opening

(L-R) Council Leader Chris Whitbread, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Community Safety Sam Kane, Epping Forest District Council Chairman Richard Bassett, Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet, Essex Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst, and Dame Eleanor Laing MP, at the official launch of the new Epping Forest Community Safety Hub.

The Council and Essex Police joined forces, together with other agencies, to create the Hub, at the Civic Offices in Epping.

Guests, including Rt. Hon. Dame Eleanor Laing MP, Roger Hirst (Essex Police Fire and Crime Commissioner), Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet, Council Chairman Richard Bassett, and local councillors, joined Council and Police officers to open the Hub which has been in operation since the end of June 2018.

Stronger partnerships

The launch marks an even stronger partnership between Epping Forest District Council and Essex Police. The Hub comprises the Council’s Community Safety Team, a Police Sergeant and two experienced Police Constables all funded and tasked by the Council. The team is already working together with other partners involved with crime prevention and community safety.

Coordinated approach

The Council’s Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, Councillor Sam Kane, hosted the Launch and said: “Over recent years there has been a sustained demand for councils to increase the use of their powers to deal with anti-social behaviour, disorder and environmental crime. At the same time, the Government has introduced significant new legislation giving police and councils effective new powers to deal with these issues. Epping Forest District Council is already making use of the new powers but enforcement is often the main responsibility of the Police, which can lead to a disjointed approach. Better coordination through the creation of this unique Community Safety Hub will prove to be revolutionary for the District.”

Brilliant initiative

Rt. Hon. Dame Eleanor Laing unveiled the plaque for the Launch and said: “This is a brilliant initiative. I am genuinely delighted to unveil the plaque to mark the launch of the Epping Forest Community Safety Hub. There is in our area increasing fear of a rise in crime and I am pleased to be able to tell people that Epping Forest District Council in conjunction with Essex Police and our local community are doing something about it.

“I would like thank the district council, Essex Police and everyone who has been involved in making this ground-breaking initiative come together.”

First initiative of its kind

Councillor Sam Kane said: “I believe this is the first initiative of a district council both funding and tasking police officers anywhere in the country. I am confident it will become a flagship for others to follow. The Council and Essex Police are proud of the close links that we already have. The new Community Safety Hub is a powerful demonstration of our continuing and innovative partnership working.”

Chief Inspector Lewis Basford, District Commander for Epping Forest and Brentwood added: “This commitment is a fantastic demonstration of what local partnerships can do. It means more police, more problems solved, better engagement and ultimately safer communities.”

Epping Forest District Council will review its commitment to fund the three police officers after three years.

Further information

Annual elections canvass forms arriving soon

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Household Enquiry Forms will be dropping through letterboxes over the next few weeks and it is essential that every home within the Epping Forest District responds by 21 August 2018.

Annual canvass

Legal requirement

If you live at an address in the district, you are legally required to respond and we are urging local residents to do it as soon as the form arrives, to help cut down the £20,000 cost of reminders last year.

The form also ensures that Epping Forest can keep the electoral register up to date and that you are able to vote should there be an unexpected election.

Online – saves time and money

Simon Hill, Electoral Registration Officer said: “It’s important that residents respond immediately to the form online, by phone or by text, so we can make sure we have the right details on the electoral register for every address in Epping Forest.”

“Last year 60% of households used one of the automated response options but many more could have done, particularly if there are no changes to the details. Using them saves time and money.”

Register and respond to canvass form

If you’re not currently registered, your name will not appear on the form. If you want to register, the easiest way is online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote or call the Electoral Services office on 01992 564411.

At the same time as registering you must also respond to the canvass form.

People who have moved address recently are particularly encouraged to keep an eye out for the form and check the details. Research by the independent Electoral Commission indicates that recent home movers are far less likely to be registered than those that have lived at the same address for a long time.

Do it online, by phone or by text now

It’s easiest and quickest to confirm your details online, by phone or by text. You can also let us know of any changes online. By using one of the automated response options you are helping to keep our costs down.

Make sure you can vote

“People think that they are automatically added to the register of electors because they are paying Council Tax, but that’s not the case,” said Simon Hill. “The annual canvass happens every year and even if nothing in your household has changed, you still need to confirm your details.”

It can affect your credit rating

It is important to remember that not being on the register can affect your ability to open a bank account, get a loan, credit, a mortgage or even a mobile phone, because it can affect your credit rating.

Respond by 21 August

Don’t ignore the form. By law you must confirm your details, or you may face a fine of up to £1,000. Please respond immediately if you have not already done so, please complete your form by 21 August 2018 at the very latest.