Confident and bold decisions taken at Cabinet

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A series of far-reaching decisions were taken at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet, meeting at the Civic Offices on 10 December.

New home for Council

Councillors have agreed in principle to relocate staff to North Weald. While customer services, civic and democratic functions will remain at the Civic Offices in Epping, new purpose-built offices will provide space for up to 380 staff at Blenheim Way, North Weald within three years.

New partners will join remaining council staff in Epping, ensuring the northern end of the town retains a strong employment focus and economic footfall for High Street shops and businesses.

Demolition of the 1960s Conder Building attached to the Civic Offices will clear the way for a mix of new homes behind the Civic Offices.

St John’s Road Cinema, Homes and Leisure Centre

As the Civic Offices evolve, the Council will also be transforming the southern end of Epping with a new leisure centre, cinema, homes, businesses and parking. Subject to detailed negotiation and agreement, Epping Forest District Council proposes to work in partnership with Epping Town Council and leisure provider Places Leisure (also known as Places for People) to deliver the development.

The existing sports centre in Epping will be redeveloped for housing following completion of the new St John’s facility, allowing the Council Offices, St John’s Road and Hemnall Street to make a substantial contribution to housing demand identified in the emerging Local Plan.

Council staff working from the current housing depot off Epping High Street will move to new facilities already built at Oakwood Hill, Loughton.

Harlow and Gilston Vision and Design

Three strategic housing locations at Water Lane, Latton Priory and East of Harlow have been identified in the Local Plan for large housing developments on the boundaries of Harlow but within Epping Forest District. Councillors approved the vision and design guide – working documents developed by Epping Forest District Council in partnership with Harlow and East Herts District Councils for Harlow and Gilston Garden Town.

£97 million Capital Programme

Ongoing development of new council houses form the major part of the five-year capital programme put before councillors at the start of the New Year budget setting process. Aside from approximately £8 million for the new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre, completed in November 2018, around £80 million is identified for a combination of new council housing and improvements to the Council’s existing stock over five years.

Landmark Building

Councillors approved £140,000 to complete work necessary to let commercial units at the new Landmark Building in the Broadway, Loughton. Once let, rental income of around £250,000 a year will be used to support the Council’s public services.

A forward-thinking council fit for the future

After the meeting, Council Leader Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “This is probably one of the most significant Cabinet meetings in years. The strategic development of council services based in Epping, North Weald and our new depot at Oakwood Hill, Loughton dovetail with our determination to build much need new homes sympathetically and boost economic activity across the district.”

“These are bold decisions. They demonstrate vision, confidence in our council, commitment to our residents and belief in the future of our district.”

Epping Forest Community Champions initiative launched

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Community Champions, a volunteer programme across the towns and villages of Epping Forest district is up and running.

The initiative aims to build on the skills and knowledge of local people to create, happy, friendly and healthy communities. To do this Epping Forest District Council is bringing together like-minded people from local towns and villages to share ideas and experiences from their communities to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.

The initiative was launched in October with nine Champions taking part in an induction morning where they learned about the support and development offered by the Council throughout the programme. They also all became Dementia Friends after taking part in an Information Session.

Community Champions have been recruited in the following towns and parishes:

  • Buckhurst Hill
  • Chigwell
  • Nazeing
  • Ongar
  • Theydon Bois
  • Willingale

What is the role of a Community Champion?

Community Champions can help you to:

  • Get to know what’s going on in the local area
  • Learn more about how to stay healthy and active
  • Access local services you might need
  • Organise community events

There is an ongoing recruitment campaign for volunteers from each of the towns and parishes within the Epping Forest district.

Do you know of a local resident who would be interested in joining us and making a real difference in the community?

We are looking for people who are:

  • Living in the Epping Forest district
  • Aged 18 years or above
  • Passionate about where they live
  • Able to build strong community connections
  • Happy to support and promote fun days and community events
  • Willing to share information about local services in the area
  • Able to promote useful health improvement information within the community

Get involved and make a difference

Councillor Helen Kane, Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder said: “I am extremely proud of our Community Champions for putting themselves forward to volunteer, and I am excited to hear their ideas. The Community Champions programme is a great way to meet new people and develop your skills and knowledge. We would love for you to get involved and make a real difference in your community!’’

More information and how to join

For further information on the Epping Forest Community Champions programme and details on how to join please contact Patrick Arnold, Senior Community Engagement Officer.

Grant Aid for local groups in Epping Forest

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Local groups across Epping Forest District have been awarded a share of nearly £50,000 from Epping Forest District Council’s Grant Aid Scheme for 2018/19.

The grants, awarded on a one-off basis, have gone to:

  • The Bridge Club XL Youth
  • Epping Town Football Club
  • CanalAbility
  • Open Door
  • The Lopping Endowment
  • Ongar United Reformed Church
  • Epping Forest Sunflower Group
  • Ongar & District Twinning Association
  • Loughton Methodist Church
  • Voluntary Action Epping Forest
  • Youth Employment Services Partnership
  • Spark
  • Loughton Voluntary Care
  • Epping Forest Neighbourhood Watch
  • Epping Forest Singers
  • Leonard Cheshire Disability
  • Hastingwood Village Hall
  • Cunningham Can Do
  • Nazeing Litter Pickers

Apply again next year

Cllr Helen Kane, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Community Services said: “We considered grant applications from lots of worthy organisations across the district so it was a difficult task making the final decisions.

“I would urge any groups who were unsuccessful this year not to be disheartened, but to apply again next year.”

To apply online visit www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/index.php/out-and-about/our-activities/grants-for-sports-arts-leisure-and-community-groups

Community gathered to celebrate opening of Waltham Abbey leisure centre

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Local children created a splash in the pool at the new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre when it opened to the public on Saturday.

On time and on budget

The £10m centre – which has been delivered on time and within budget – was formally opened by Councillor Richard Bassett, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, and Dave Jolliffe, Area Manager, from Places Leisure which operates the Council’s four leisure centres.

The day was one of celebration for the centre which has been built from scratch on a new site at Hillhouse, Waltham Abbey. Staff showed visitors around the new facilities and there were free taster sessions including public swimming, indoor cycling classes and junior activities.

Great for the area

Councillor Helen Kane, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Community Services at Epping Forest District Council said: “It was such a pleasure to be at the opening of the new centre. It will be a great asset for the area and will help improve the health and wellbeing of our community.”

Active places for healthy people

Dave Jolliffe from Places Leisure said: “It was a fantastic day and we were delighted to welcome so many members of our community to their new leisure home on our first official day of opening! As a social enterprise it’s our mission to create active places and healthy people and we hope that the new venue and facilities will inspire even more of our community to come along and try a new sport or activity or just pop in to socialise with their friends and family. There really is something for everyone from parent and baby classes to indoor cycling, aqua aerobics and mindfulness sessions.”

Centenary Celebration at Epping Forest District Museum

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On Saturday 10 November, Epping Forest District Museum came to life with a special dance event commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War and the armed forces.

An audience of 80 people saw the galleries transformed into stages as Essex Youth Dance Company’s, Dance Station and Re:Generation’s Forever Young, (both part of The Dance Network Association) perform The Great War Centenary dance piece choreographed especially for 2018.

Poetry recital

One of the older performers, Frances Maynard, recited a poem called ‘Never Forget’, that she had specifically written for the Great War commemorations.

Councillor Helen Kane Leisure and Community Services Portfolio Holder attended the event and said: “This was a really special event for our museum to host.  I went  to support  the officers , the organisers and the performers but I was soon engrossed by this brilliant concept. I was very pleased to be briefed about the thoughts behind this project and I must say I was not disappointed. This dance  showcase is one of the many projects the museum has been organising to mark the centenary of the end of World War I and I felt it was a lovely way of bringing  together younger and older  generations as well as inviting the wider community to commemorate the occasion.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the centenary dance and thought the specially written poem for the event was very moving. I was very pleased to see many people attending and enjoying and being moved by the performance. I can only commend and congratulate everyone involved and I hope we see more of these events in the future”.

Gemma Wright, The Dance Network Association Artistic Director, said: “This will definitely be a performance to remember for our dancers, as it was an unusual location where they may not get the opportunity to perform in such a historical building and as part of a larger exhibition.

We really enjoyed being part of the event and I feel for our dancers were particularly inspired and proud to perform to the community of Epping Forest.”

This project was part of The Dance Network Association’s ‘Keeping Dance Alive’ annual en masse performance at events all over Essex.

Exhibition

The Walter Spradbery, Artist in War and Peace, exhibition is on display at Epping Forest District Museum, Waltham Abbey, until Saturday 22 December 2018. It focuses on the artist’s time in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War, and the paintings he made for the first Imperial War Museum displays.

The Dance Network Association

The Dance Network Association is an Essex based organisation passionate about offering dance and dance education to local community. For more information, visit https://www.dancenetworkassociation.org.uk/

An audience of 80 people saw the galleries transformed into stages as Essex Youth Dance Company’s, Dance Station and Re:Generation’s Forever Young, (both part of The Dance Network Association) perform The Great War Centenary dance, a piece choreographed especially for 2018.

Nominations open for Sports Award 2019

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Epping Forest Young Sports Awards 2019 is open for nominations until 23 November 2018.

The awards support young athletes between the ages of 13 – 25 to develop in their chosen sports.

£100 – £1,000 awards

Awards can range from between £100 to £1000 and nominations are open until 23 November.

To be eligible nominees must:

  • Be aged 13-25 (inclusive) on the closing date for applications
  • Live in the Epping Forest District (or if at Collage/University return ‘home’ to Epping Forest District during the holidays)
  • Competing at county, regional or national level in a nationally governed sport

Last year’s winner Christianna Vitanova has used her award to help her pay for specialist coaching in her discipline Rhythmic Gymnastics, and attend training camps. This coaching and extra support has allowed further improve in her chosen discipline and continue on the Olympic Pathway I her sport.

Previous winners

Previous award winners have included Athlete Daniel Rowden, heptathlete and now GB American football star Naomi Harryman, GB Ice Hockey player Glenn Billing.

Further information

To apply please visit the Epping Forest District Council Website or call Fabrizio on 01992 564567.

Cabinet 8 November 2018

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Extra investment to support improvements to 20 Council owned car parks, a council owned gymnastic centre in North Weald and to fund two Epping Forest Citizens Advice Bureau Debt Advisors, was agreed at Cabinet on 8 November 2018.

Improvements to Council car parks

Following the decision to change parking tariffs in September, Councillors have now agreed to reinvest some of the extra income into the improvement of 20 car parks across the district.

The plans to improve CCTV systems and upgrade to LED lighting were supported by Cabinet members. A study will also be commissioned to look into the viability of installing electricity charging points in council car parks.

Revamp for Gymnastic Centre

The Council owned Gymnastic Centre in North Weald is in need of investment and refurbishment. When it was built in 1986, it was seen as a centre of excellence, and for many years generated international level gymnasts and operated an intensive beginners programme.

Gymnastics continues to have a high profile within the district with a demand for good quality training facilities and the Council is committed to investing in leisure for residents.

£240,000 will be spent to bring the centre back to its former glory. Plans boast brand new equipment and apparatus, as well as essential building works and repairs.

The current lease for the facility is up for renewal at the end of December.

Council funds Debt Advisors

For three years, the Council has funded two Epping Forest Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Debt Advisors to assist residents in the district with their personal budgeting. Last night, Councillors decided to keep funding these advisors for a further year.

Councillor Syd Stavrou, Housing Portfolio Holder spoke passionately about how important the Epping Forest CAB is to residents of the district and to the Council itself – in keeping rent arrears low and preventing homelessness.

Council grant funds Loughton Junior Parkrun

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65 young people turned out for the Junior Parkrun at Roding Valley Recreation Ground on Sunday 28 October, funded by the Epping Forest Public Health Grant.

Junior Parkrun launched on Sunday 14 October at Roding Valley Recreational ground.

“Parkrun is free to take part, participants must register before their first run but it’s only necessary to register once. The aim of Junior Parkrun is to have fun, it’s not about competing,” said Cllr Helen Kane, Portfolio Holder for Leisure. “So please come along and join in whatever your pace!”

Councillor Kane was there to send the runners on their way and support them through the 2km course, alongside Ronnie ‘The Rocket’ O’Sullivan five time snooker World Champion, and seven times snooker Masters champion there as a volunteer.

£4,000 grant

Epping Forest District Council awarded Parkrun UK £4,000 from its Public health Grant to set up the junior version of the popular adult event.

The Junior Park run follows on from the amazing success of the Adult park run which runs every Saturday morning at 9am and receives over 50 participants a week. The success of both Park Runs is down to the great work done by Loughton Town Council in managing the Roding Valley Recreation Ground and in developing partnerships and funding bits with external partners to bring an array of community focused activities to the site.

Event details

Further information

For more information or to register for the junior park run please visit http://www.parkrun.org.uk/rodingvalley-juniors/

Council 1 November 2018

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Reports to Council on 1 November 2018 included updates on the newly completed Leisure Centre in Waltham Abbey, an Essex-wide fly-tipping campaign, additional Council homes built and an announcement about free weekend parking in Council run car parks in December.

Leisure Centre open ahead of schedule

It’s good news for Waltham Abbey, with the new Leisure Centre set to open ahead of schedule on Saturday 17 November 2018.

The new health and wellbeing hub boasts a six lane 25m pool along with a 15m learner pool with floor that is adjustable between 0m and 1.2m, virtual cycling classes and state of the art equipment.

Leisure partners Places for People are offering memberships with no joining fee until 14 November 2018.

Crime not to Care

The Council has been promoting the Essex-wide fly-tipping campaign, ‘Crime not to Care’.

Designed to educate residents about their duty of care when disposing of their waste, the campaign informs residents that they can be fined and prosecuted if their waste is fly-tipped by rogue traders.

In his report, Councillor Nigel Avey, Environment Portfolio Holder, informed members of the Councils most recent prosecution. The case of Loughton resident, Mr Tjoluskins, was heard by Magistrates on 13 September. He handed his waste to a scammer who fly-tipped in a bin store in Oakley Court in Loughton. The resident was fined £600 and ordered to pay the Councils prosecution costs of £900.

The campaigns message is simple – before handing over your waste to somebody else, always check, consider and record to protect yourself and reduce fly-tipping by rogue traders.

Universal Credit

In his report to members, Councillor Mohindra, Finance Portfolio Holder, presented an update about Universal Credit.

From 5 December, the Job Centre Plus in Loughton will roll out Universal Credit. Meaning that anyone of working age that needs help with their rent and is not already receiving Housing Benefit, will need to apply for Universal Credit instead of Housing Benefit.

Visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit for further information.

Council house-building programme

Councillor Syd Stavrou’s report informed members of the handover of four new Council homes in Coopersale, Epping on Wednesday 10 October. The two new 2 bedroom houses and two 1 bedroom flats will be let to applicants on the Councils housing register. A further seven new Council homes will be ready to handover in early November.

The Council has committed around £58 million for new housing since it restarted its council house building programme in 2014. So far, new homes have been built in Waltham Abbey, North Weald and Epping, with more in the pipeline.

Free parking in December

Councillor Sam Kane announced the Councils plan to relax parking fees in Council owned car parks on weekends throughout December 2018 ‘to help local traders’ and support our high streets this Christmas.

Parking will be free on Saturdays and Sundays throughout December in all of the Council owned car parks.

Council progress report to Scrutiny

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Council Leader Chris Whitbread set out progress on a number of key Council initiatives for Overview and Scrutiny on Monday 29 October. Major steps forward include internal reorganisation of the Council’s top management structure, new homes for local people through the council house building programme and the culmination of a year of major investment in leisure facilities with the imminent opening of the brand new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre.

Thanks to prudent financial planning, effective management and maximisation of assets, Epping Forest District Council is in a stronger financial position than many councils. Councillors of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee received the latest progress report on services from Council Leader Chris Whitbread.

£2.5m savings

The Council has a savings target of £2.5m over the next three years as government grants are phased out while protecting frontline services and keeping Council Tax low.

The first new council houses have been completed with many more now in the pipeline.

Restructure

Senior management has been restructured with two Strategic Directors and eight Service leads tasked with focusing on the customer and driving efficiency through bringing business support functions together.

Councillor Whitbread said that the Council is committed to promoting ‘flexible smarter working’ for staff and redeveloping the rear of the Civic Office site. While listing has delayed changes to the Civic Offices, options are to be discussed by December Cabinet.

Good progress on ICT is supporting customer access to Council services and allowing staff to work in flexible more efficient ways.

Epping Forest District Local Plan

The Local Plan is back on track.   Judicial Review caused frustrating delay and uncertainty but the plan is now submitted for examination next year.

Leisure in the district

The Council’s partnership with Places for People has delivered £12 million of improvements including the opening of the new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre in a few weeks’ time. Council assets are helping to deliver community and economic benefits.  Epping Forest Shopping Park is trading well and the Council is now in position to take forward St John’s Road, Epping potentially including another new leisure centre.

Finance

Whilst Council Tax was frozen for many years, an increase of 2.5% this year to fund extra police officers dedicated to the district is proving very successful.

Preparation of the 2019/20 budget starts in earnest shortly with positive bids for extra services such as investment in public car parks being looked at by Cabinet and Overview and Scrutiny in January.