Selfless citizens celebrated

Written on . Posted in Arts, Chairman, Civic events, Community, Councillors, Grants, Media, Museum, Older people, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

The district’s most remarkable people had their moment in the spotlight on Friday 17 March 2017 at the Epping Forest District Council Civic Awards ceremony 2017 at the Marriott Hotel, Waltham Abbey.

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Evening in pictures

Civic Awards 2017

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Recognising the efforts of remarkable people

The special evening was hosted by the Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Jeane Lea. The Chairman explained why the Council hold the Civic Awards in her opening speech, she said: ”We hold the Civic Awards to recognise the efforts of the remarkable people that live amongst us, who make a difference and inspire others to do the same. Selfless heroes that strive to make the world a better place, without looking for praise or tribute.”

Diverse, unique and exceptional

”We want to thank those that volunteer with care in our communities. Those who save lives in their everyday work. Those who enrich the lives of others with their artistic flair, who make us proud of their sporting talent and those that give their time and effort to worthy causes. We hold these awards for you. You make our district diverse, unique and exceptional.”

”What strikes me, as I am sure it does others, is that our communities are full of incredible people, far too many to recognise everybody.”

Citizen of the Year 2017

This year, Doreen and Sid Miller, were the joint winners of the prestigious Citizen of the Year award. The pair have been heavily involved in community action in the district for decades. Together, they have helped hundreds of families find a place to live by providing crucial rent guarantees, they also volunteer with Epping Forest Community Transport and the local furniture exchange.

Elizabeth Renny was highly commended for her 35 years service to the second Loughton Girl Guides pack, before her retirement this month.

Team of the Year 2017

The Epping Forest District Museum volunteers received the Team of the Year award, for their outstanding work throughout the successful renovation of the museum and more.

Young Citizen of the Year 2017

Arjun Kuhaendran, a student at West Hatch High School won the very special accolade of Young Citizen of the Year for his dedication to his role of charity ambassador. He has seen money raised for Crisis at Christmas, Macmillan, Water Aid and the International Day of Peace in this past year alone.

Runner-up, David Castleman, received a Special Commendation for his extraordinary bravery.

Community Service Medals

Community service medals were received by Garry Clark and Richard Holt of the East of England Ambulance Service, Sub Officer Dave Horton of the Essex Fire Service and Sergeant Simon Dear of Essex Police.

Youth Council Awards

Epping Forest District Council Youth Council award winners Marley Chick, Lisa Nakimuli, Finlay Jordan and Ashwin Gohil were all commended for their outstanding achievements and dedication to their roles.

Sports and Creativity Awards

Daniel Rowden, an 800m runner from Buckhurst Hill, was the winner of this year’s sports bursary of £1,000. Bethany Joiner won the Creativity award for her photographic talent and charitable work, she received a bursary of £500.

Business Apprentices

Praise was given to Epping Forest District Council’s Business Apprentices; Jay Binks, Emily Gowens, Becky Linford, Sian Pavitt, Becca Yellop and Amber Stewart, who have all achieved their level 2 diplomas and are all now employed by different departments across the council.

Over £10,000 raised for Essex Air Ambulance

A magnificent £1,160 was raised at the Civic Awards for the Chairman’s charity, the Essex Air Ambulance Service and local artist Martyn Royce donated an original work of art to the charity for auction. Chairman Jeane Lea raised an incredible £11,160 for her chosen charity.

Cabinet 9 March 2017

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Epping, Housing, Leader, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Out and about, Parking, Planning, Residents, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your money

The Local Plan, better use of council assets, housing for homeless people, pay and display car parks and the investment of additional fees in the planning service dominated debate at Cabinet on 9 March.

Draft Local Plan consultation

Preliminary findings from the draft Local Plan consultation were presented by Planning Portfolio Holder Councillor John Philip to the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet on 9 March.

Councillor Philip outlined some clear themes coming through for more work on infrastructure and employment sites including the wider area of East Herts and Harlow. New potential sites and changes to previously identified sites are also being reviewed and will be fed into the revisions of the draft plan. A new transport assessment is also being done in conjunction with Essex County Council.

Councillor Philip emphasised that publication of the next draft depended on full analysis and assessment of the additional work programmed in over the next year or so. Councillors noted the initial findings of the consultation, agreed progression of the Local Plan to the next stage and approved the publication of the Council’s updated Local Development Scheme online.

Better use of council buildings

The interests of residents and customers must remain at the heart of council services. Council Leader Chris Whitbread received Cabinet support for proposals to reduce the need for office space at the Civic Offices in Epping.

Reports show flexible working by staff including home and remote working, and use of other council buildings could allow the Council to move out of the older part of the Civic Offices known as the Conder Building. Councillor Whitbread described the proposals as part of the wider transformation programme to improve services.

Pay and Display set to save £58,000

Final preparations have been agreed for the transfer of the council’s off-street parking management from the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) to NSL.

Portfolio Holder Gary Waller reminded fellow councillors of the improvements the change of contract will bring to residents and the Council. The Council will save £58,600 under the new arrangements even though Councillor Waller said that NSL did not submit the cheapest bid. They did submit the best quality bid. Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) rates remain the same.

Housing for Homeless People

Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor Syd Stavrou received approval to progress plans for a small pilot scheme of three ‘Pods’ to accommodate people at Norway House in North Weald. The pods containing individual living accommodation and shared kitchens are manufactured by a North Weald based company. Subject to planning approval, the Council plans to help homeless people who would otherwise find themselves in Bed and Breakfast.

Increased planning application fees

Cabinet accepted an offer by the Department of Communities and Local Government to increase planning fees. Governance Portfolio Holder Richard Bassett confirmed that any extra income would be reinvested in planning services.

Mental health outreach for local schools

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MiLife, an innovative mental health project developed by Epping Forest District Youth Council is touring local schools.

1 in 4 school age children experience mental health problems before the age of 18.

MiLife Roadshow

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Addressing mental health

Delivered by a local theatre group, the latest MiLife performance helped Year 7 and Year 8 students at the Ongar Academy think about their mental welfare and that of their friends.

Using electronic voting handsets, students were asked what they would do in a series of different scenarios. The results of their choices were then played out by the actors.

Bringing the subject out into the open

MiLife was the innovation of Epping Forest District Youth Council. It evolved from the annual district-wide youth conference and was produced with the support of Epping Forest District Council.

Epping Forest Youth Councillor Adam Freeman said: “There tends to be quite a bit of focus on adult mental health at the moment but people can forget your school years can be some of the most stressful. There could be many different reasons for poor mental health.”

“By bringing the subject out into the open and talking about it, we hope to give young people the knowledge and skills they need to look after themselves and each other.”

A marvellous programme

Leisure and Communities Portfolio Holder Councillor Helen Kane supports the scheme. She said: “This is a fantastic  initiative. The issues around mental health are often misunderstood or worse ignored. Perhaps we tend to dismiss it as part of growing up.”

“However, there are many reasons why a young person might not have good mental health and I congratulate our Youth Council for developing such a marvellous programme.”

MiLife is touring schools and colleges throughout the district.

Find out more

To find out more about MiLife please visit

Celebration of grant aid success

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Saying thank you to our local community and voluntary groups for their hard work was the focus of our first grant aid celebration event on Friday 3 March 2017 in Epping.

Grant aid celebration

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Grant aid celebration

The groups all received grant aid to spend on equipment for community projects that benefited residents. The money was used for a wide range of items ranging from tents to specialist beds and from uniforms to bee keeping equipment.

Presentations by the Chigwell Disabled Group, Ongar & Villages Voluntary Care and Lambourne End Centre showed how the money they received in grant aid helped their groups to operate or buy specialised equipment.

Keep up the great work

Chairman Jeane Lea said: “On behalf of the people of the Epping Forest district I’d like to say a big thank you to all the groups for their hard work and dedication. Without their wonderful contributions our district would be a much poorer place to live. keep up the great work!”

Help you to help your community

Councillor Helen Kane, Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder said: “This year we have £83,450 grant aid to spend. You can apply for grant aid up to £5,000 if your group needs help to buy a new, or replace an old item of equipment. Get in touch and let us help you to help your community.”

“We want to support, enhance and develop the contribution that local community and voluntary groups make to improve the wellbeing of people in the Epping Forest district.”

Want to know more?

Pub to replace Nu Bar

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Councillors, Crime and safety, Democracy, Licensing, Local business, Loughton, Media, Meetings, Our activities, Out and about, Regulations, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

As part of a crackdown on crime and disorder in Loughton, Essex Police asked Epping Forest District Council for a summary licence review after a serious assault at Nu Bar in February 2017.

Licensing noticeCCTV evidence

The review hearing took place on 7 March 2017.  The police evidence referred to CCTV footage, which showed that Nu Bar had not only failed to manage the incident effectively, but that management had been operating outside the permitted hours of their licence.

Illegal activity

Patrons were seen leaving more than 3 hours later than the licence allowed, via the back exit, in an attempt to conceal the illegal activity.

At the hearing the premises licence owners, Greene King, informed the licensing sub-committee that it had taken steps to change management.

Last orders 11pm

District councillors reduced the licencing hours, with last orders at 11pm Monday to Sunday and applied the stringent conditions agreed between Essex Police and Greene King.

Domestic abuse support reaches across Essex

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

Domestic abuse victims do not need to suffer in silence as the J9 domestic abuse support network expands further into Essex.

Shops and businesses displaying a pink J9 heart sticker shows the public they are at a safe contact point should they need information, support and use of a telephone.

Trula Hall, Emergency Department receptionist, presented with her J9 lanyard and badge

All the job centres in Essex, together with local councils including Tendring, Harlow, Uttlesford and Castle Point, and many local businesses and organisations have already joined the scheme. Colchester Borough Council and Basildon and Thurrock Hospitals NHS Trust are looking to join and train staff.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow recently joined the list of J9 contact places. 40 staff members had J9 training and are now able to signpost and support victims of domestic abuse using the directory provided.

About J9

J9 is named after Janine Mundy. Janine was killed by her estranged husband while on police bail.

The J9 support network provides safe and discreet contact points for victims of domestic abuse to access support and advice. Staff at J9 contact points have been trained to signpost advice and spot the signs of domestic abuse. Each contact point has a safe place where victims can access information and use a phone.

Contact points display pink J9 heart stickers in their windows.

Supporting our local community

The Burnt Mill Academy Trust in Harlow reported 4 occasions when women have asked for further information on J9.

Tracy Taylor from the Burnt Mill Academy Trust said: “I’m in no doubt these women would not have come forward had it not been for the J9 project. No records or conversations took place and we merely signposted them using the directory provided.”

“Supporting our local community is reward enough in itself and we will continue supporting this invaluable project.”

Help hidden victims of domestic abuse

Councillor Gary Waller, Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder said: “We’ve built up a fantastic J9 support network locally and we want to expand this support into all of Essex. J9 is an ongoing project and we want to train as many people as possible to help those hidden victims of domestic abuse.”

Councillor Waller urged: “Any business and organisation who wants to sign up please call 01992 564608 or email – let’s make sure the victims of domestic abuse get the help and support they need.”

Find out more

Overview and Scrutiny 28 February 2017

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The newly-appointed principal of Epping Forest College, Saboohi Famili came before councillors at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 28 February to discuss the damning recent OFSTED report.

Principal sets out college improvement plans

Ms Famili joined the college a matter of weeks before the inspection and is addressing the wide range of short-comings identified in the report. She was joined in Overview and Scrutiny by Councillor Gagan Mohindra in his capacity as the newly-appointed chairman of governors.

A new senior leadership team is in place. Ms Famili confirmed that recruitment of the next level of high-quality leadership and management was already underway. Action plans monitored and assessed on a monthly basis are being introduced. The Board of Governors led by Councillor Mohindra are undertaking regular scrutiny. Ms Famili also confirmed OFSTED will be making frequent repeat inspections to ensure changes are implemented. Councillor Mohindra confirmed that the board of governors would be ‘robust’.

OFSTED carried out its inspection during November 2016. Councillor Stephen Murray suggested the problems were deeply ingrained and asked Ms Famili how she felt these issues had come about. Ms Famili described a previous culture of ‘blame and fear’. This resulted in a tendency to hide problems. Ms Famili said the new culture could be characterised as ‘Proud to share and not afraid to ask’. By bringing issues into the open and recognising the problems she believed the cultural was changing.

Councillors applauded the accessible approach being adopted Ms Famili.

Highways, rail and health scrutiny

Councillors also noted the latest responses of Transport for London, Essex County Council Highways and Princess Alexandra Hospital to previous scrutiny enquiries.

TFL reported on the evolving organisational structure and engagement with non-Greater London councils. It supplied further information on the provision of Oyster cards and improvements to the line between Epping and Loughton.

Councillors noted difficulties in resolving issues with highways and disappointment with the County Council’s reluctance to attend a meeting of Overview and Scrutiny. In the absence of the County Portfolio Holder, councillors supported the formation of a delegation to attend County Hall in order to put the district’s concerns in person.

Councillor Ricky Gadsby updated fellow councillors regarding the concerns of the Care Quality Commission on the performance of Princess Alexandra Hospital. Councillors noted the commitment of the Chairman and Chief Executive of Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust to attend Overview and Scrutiny on 6 June 2017.

Chairman’s quiz reaches new heights

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17 teams raised a record £1,032 for local life-saving charity the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance at the Chairman`s annual charity quiz on Friday 24 February 2017.

Chairman charity quiz 2017


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Fun filled evening

Chairman Jeane Lea hosted the quiz at Waltham Abbey Town Hall. Teams came dressed as cowboys, indians, angels and Jeane’s Jeanies. A team made up of councillors from Waltham Abbey won the best dressed team award dressed as cowboys and indians.

`Scrambled Egg Heads’ were the quiz winners. The team from Buckhurst Hill was led by Councillor Steven Neville. This was the second win on a row for the Scrambled Egg Heads.

Digging deep for the Air Ambulance

Chairman Jeane Lea said: “Wow what an evening! Everyone who took part really had to dig deep for some of the answers but a good time was certainly had by all.”

“I’m delighted with the amount raised for my charity. So thank you to everyone who took part.

Nature Reserve wins Bags of Help

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Countrycare, Media, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Thanks to the Tesco Bags of Help scheme we’ve improved the landscaping for both visitors and wildlife at Nazeing Triangle Local Nature Reserve (LNR).

Construction of the new dipping platform

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Nazeing Triangle LNR received £8,000 from Tesco and Groundworks for a community project. It was to improve the habitat for local wildlife and provide better access for visitors. The money was raised by the 5p carrier bag charge which is to be used for grants to improve local parks, hold community events, support sports groups and more.

The first stage is complete

The community project is run by our Countrycare team who were thrilled to receive the grant. Assistant Countryside Manager Nicola Ceconi said: “This exciting project has just begun. We’ve installed a new dipping platform, similar to a jetty, giving wildlife lovers safe access to the waterside.”

“Next, we will plant native aquatic pond plants around the pond edges using preplanted coir matting. This will improve the habitat for amphibians and invertebrates, providing an important refuge and food source. The plants should then grow and spread around the pond.”

Pond experience

“We want visitors to get the most out of their pond experience. A panel showing the different species living in the nature reserve will boost their knowledge and appreciation of pond life. The final stage is to let nature take its course. I’m hoping the natural colonisation by plants and wildlife will occur surprisingly quickly.”

Thanks to the funding from Tesco

“The old dipping platform had become rotten and unsafe” said Councillor Gary Waller, Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder. “This new platform will be wheelchair accessible, allowing people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the pond.”

“The habitat for invertebrates and amphibians will improve with time, and this will encourage a greater biodiversity in the pond, all thanks to the funding from Tesco Bags of Help and Groundworks.”

Full Council 21 February 2017

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A council meeting dominated by budgets and finances took time out to remember one of its finest public servants and wish another a speedy recovery from illness.

Ron Barnes OBE

Council Chairman Jeane Lea invited councillors and staff to join her in a minute’s silence as Epping Forest District Council remembered former chairman Ron Barnes OBE. Tributes were led by Council Leader Chris Whitbread who remembered Ron as a most decent man as well as an excellent councillor.

Councillor Liz Webster said he was admired by all while Councillor Richard Morgan recalled Ron as a great friend to everyone and offered the council’s condolences to his wife Felicity. Councillor Caroline Pond spoke of the opening of Barnes Court in Cripsey Avenue, named after Ron Barnes and the anecdotes of his many friends.

Councillor Brian Surtees reminded colleagues of his strength of character and his ability to endure, as a young man on the Atlantic convoys but also towards the end of his life as illness took hold.

Ron Barnes represented the people of Ongar through the Shelley ward from 1979 to 2003.

Councillor Tony Boyce

Councillors were delighted to learn of the continuing recovery of Councillor Tony Boyce who was taken ill in October. Councillors agreed unanimously to grant an extension to his leave of absence until August 2017.

Epping Forest Youth Council

Among the announcements by Councillor Jeane Lea was a recommendation of fellow councillors to follow the example of the district’s youth council currently supporting the MiLife mental health initiative.

Budget 2017/18

Epping Forest District councillors confirmed Cabinet recommendations not to increase the council’s share of Council Tax. Setting another low budget, councillors extended the freeze on Council Tax for a 7th year.

Councillors then noted the Council Tax precepts for Essex County Council, Essex Police, Essex Fire and Rescue and local town and parish councils for 2017/18. Residents will pay the new rates from April.

Good outcomes

Safer Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder Gary Waller reported with satisfaction on excellent progress in tackling anti-social behaviour in Epping. He reported on the joint work with Essex Police using CCTV images of young people to persuade their parents to take action.

He was also happy to report plans for electric vehicle charging points at the new Epping Forest Shopping Park.

Councillor Chris Whitbread was also happy to report progress following the purchase of former St John’s Road school site in Epping as well as good news on the council’s latest treasury management financial strategy reports.