Reaping the rewards of recycling

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A scheme that rewards local residents for recycling, and boosts local charities has been operating in Epping Forest for over a year.

This week money raised through the scheme was shared out between Epping Forest Community Transport, Chigwell Riding trust, Epping Forest Food Bank, Safer Places.

Epping Forest Recycling Rewards focuses on blocks of flats in the district where contamination in recycling has been high. The scheme helps to incentivise residents to sort their recycling and cut down on contamination.

Around 100 blocks have been taking part with almost a third of residents earning ‘Green Points’. Each month the six residents who’ve collected the most points receive a £25 voucher to spend at M&S, iTunes, Love2shop, and Local leisure centres or to donate to one of the charities supported by the scheme.

Between July 2017 and July 2018 contamination rates across the blocks taking part dropped dramatically over the life of the project.

‘’We knew recycling rates in flats were below where they should be so this scheme is a wonderful opportunity for residents involved, to improve their recycling rates and get rewarded for doing so,’’ said Cllr Nigel Avey, portfolio holder for the environment.

“We monitor the quality of recycling being produced by flats in Epping Forest and reward residents for recycling more of the right things. The blocks earn ‘Green Points’ depending on how they are performing and can also earn extra points for things like reporting fly-tipping and using recycling centres for household waste.”

Local businesses have signed up to the scheme to offer discounts to participating residents.

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 The councils have withdrawn from previous plans to sell the area to a private developer, Frontier Estates.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/

Council homes to be proud of

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An extra £2 billion for council housing announced by the Government, has been welcomed by Epping Forest District Council. The Council is already building new homes to supplement its stock of around 6,500 properties. There are currently more than 1,500 people waiting for a home on the District’s Housing Register.

Image – John Scott Court, opened in October 2017. Phase One of the Council’s House-building Programme, providing 23 new affordable rented homes in Waltham Abbey

£58m commitment

The Council has committed around £58 million for new housing since it restarted its council house building programme in 2014. 28 new homes have been completed so far in Waltham Abbey, North Weald and Epping, with more in the pipeline. It has also bought eight brand new homes off-plan from a developer in Roydon and a further six open market properties for renovation.

Burton Road development, Loughton

Fifty one new houses and flats are nearing completion in Burton Road, Loughton. The site was the scene of a construction related fire a few weeks ago. However, despite flames and a spectacular plume of smoke that could be seen for miles, damage to the block involved was relatively light and largely confined to the roof. The building stood up to the fire extremely well which put back the completion schedule by only a few weeks. The first new tenants should be moving into Burton Road before Christmas.

Next phase

Thirty four new homes are planned in the next phase of construction. Utilising eight small parcels of land already owned by the Council, it is building these homes in Epping, North Weald and Coopersale. Under future phases, more new properties will be built in Loughton, Buckhurst Hill, Ongar and Waltham Abbey, with planning permission already granted for an additional 74 homes.

All the Council’s new homes are energy-efficient and safe, built to the Government’s Decent Homes Standard and Lifetime Homes Standards.

“More than bricks and mortar”

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council is proud of the work done so far and very keen to draw some of the extra money announced by the Government into the District. He said: “We provide very high quality council housing but it is more than just bricks and mortar. We take pride when our tenants tell us how much they appreciate the good level of service we provide throughout from lettings to management and maintenance.”

He continued: “The biggest problem with our stock is that we don’t have enough of it. We are committed to building more local council houses for local families, and we will be sure to do all we can to get hold of some of the £2 billion announced by the Government to build more.”

“Council housing second to none”

Delivering Epping Forest District Council’s house building programme is Councillor Syd Stavrou, Portfolio Holder for Housing. She added her support, saying: “Council housing in Epping Forest is second to none. I also welcome the Government comments around removing the ‘stigma’ of social housing.

“We are four years into our ten year council house-building programme. The quality of our homes is as good as any private sector equivalent and we are determined to continue in that way. It’s not enough to just build the homes though, our focus is very much on continuing to manage and maintain all our homes in partnership with our tenants to the highest possible standard”.

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 District Council wins Local Plan challenge

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The High Court has dismissed the legal challenge to the Epping Forest District Council’s Local Plan Submission Version 2017 paving the way for the Council to submit the Local Plan to the Secretary of State for Independent Examination. The Court rejected all four grounds of challenge brought by property development company CK Properties (Theydon Bois) Ltd, endorsing the lawfulness of the Council decision to approve the Local Plan for 11,400 new homes over the Plan period up to 2033.

Updated 22 August 2018

However the Council cannot currently submit the plan for examination due to an injunction placed by Mrs Justice Lang in the High Court on 21 March 2018 restraining the Council from submitting the Local Plan until final determination of the legal proceedings.  The claimants made an application for permission to appeal to the High Court which was refused on 13 July 2018.  The order made by Mr Justice Supperstone accepted that final determination of the legal proceedings included any application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.  The claimants have now submitted an application to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal.  We are currently waiting for that application to be determined by the Court of Appeal.  We understand it is being expedited but we do not currently have a timeline for the decision.

EFDC local plan logos

The Council’s Planning Portfolio Holder, Councillor John Philip described the Court’s decision as “good news” and the positive outcome is also seen as vindication of the Council’s approach by its Leader, Councillor Chris Whitbread.

John Philip expressed his gratitude to the Court saying: “The production of the Local Plan is possibly the most difficult thing the Council has ever had to do. The issues involved in planning for growth in the District are very sensitive and, inevitably, emotions often run high, but the Court has endorsed the Council’s approach having scrutinised the decision-making process.”

Chris Whitbread was also pleased. He said: “As Councillors we take a balanced view between the protection of the character of the District we love and the need to provide decent homes for local people. We burnt a great deal of ‘midnight oil’ to understand and balance complex issues while collectively studying and guiding the evolution of the Plan through workshops, meetings and engagement before making some really difficult decisions.”

Councillor Philip continued: “I hope CK Properties will see the sense of the Court’s judgment, and pursue their arguments through the Local Plan Examination process, which has always been the proper place to air their concerns, and spare Council Tax payers any additional expense by resorting to the legal appeal process.”

Annual Council 24 May 2018

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Councillor Richard Bassett is the new Chairman of Epping Forest District Council.

His appointment follows the retirement of David Stallan. Councillor Ricki Gadsby is the Council’s new Vice-Chairman. Following the retirement of Will Breare-Hall at the local elections, Council Leader Chris Whitbread has added Councillor Nigel Avey to his Cabinet.

Chairman Cllr Richard Bassett

Click on an image below to start the slideshow

Cabinet appointments

  • Leader – Councillor Chris Whitbread
  • Assets & Economic Development – Councillor Anne Grigg
  • Environment – Councillor Nigel Avey
  • Finance – Councillor Gagan Mohindra
  • Planning & Governance – Councillor John Philip
  • Housing and Deputy Leader of Council – Councillor Syd Stavrou
  • Leisure & Community Services – Councillor Helen Kane
  • Safer, Greener & Transport – Councillor Sam Kane
  • Technology & Support Services – Councillor Alan Lion

‘What a year and what an experience’

In his closing speech to councillors, David Stallan said that he would not have missed his year as chairman for the world! Among the ‘standout’ moments of his year, Dave listed teeing off at Chairman’s Charity Golf Day, his ‘visit’ to the gym, a steam train footplate, aircraft simulator, sports events the Petanque trophy wrestled back – all in fun – two Chinese delegations, the Ongar Festival, many arts events and working with the Youth Council. As Chairman, Dave learned that a few hundred pounds can make a massive difference. Through generosity of others he raised £5,500 for local charities and Diabetes UK.

It was Dave’s sad duty to announce the passing of 11 current and former councillors during his year. Concluding with thanks to his family he noted not only ‘two great women behind me – daughter Amy and wife Sue, but also a third Pat Seager, the Chairman’s Secretary.

Praise for David Stallan

Chris Whitbread led thanks to David Stallan. During a tough year including meetings on the Local Plan, Councillor Whitbread described Dave Stallan as first class, handling himself so well as he travelled across the district by being himself and being such a ‘nice guy’.

Councillor Whitbread said: “A good chairman brings the whole council together – you had a brilliant year – thank you”.

Councillors Stephen Murray, Caroline Pond, Anne Grigg, Jon Whitehouse and Stephen Neville echoed Chris Whitbread’s words – thanking David Stallan for a brilliant year.

Communities Director Alan Hall thanked Dave Stallan on behalf of the staff recalling their years working closely together on council housing and Dave’s support for council staff.

In one of his first presentations as Chairman, Councillor Richard Bassett also had great please in presenting Dave Stallan with a long service medal for 19 years representing the residents of North Weald.

New Chairman

Richard Bassett’s nomination for Chairman was proposed by Councillor Mary Sartin. Councillor Bassett took on his first cabinet role in 2010 before accepting the role of vice-chairman last year. As a former Chairman, councillor Sartin assured Councillor Bassett that he would meet many wonderful people over the coming year.

Thanking fellow councillors for bestowing the honour of Chairman on him, Councillor Bassett particularly singled out Dave Stallan for his support over the year. Councillor Bassett is making small business his theme for the year. He will undertake to get out and meet as many businesses as possible.

As a trustee of Epping Forest Community Transport, Councillor Bassett also wants to raise its profile along with young people’s sports groups during his year as Chairman.

Key appointments

Other key appointments at Annual Council included:

  • Chairman Plans Sub Committee East– Councillor Paul Keska
  • Chairman Plans Sub Committee West– Councillor Liz Webster
  • Chairman Plans Sub Committee South – Councillor Darshan Sunger
  • Chairman District Development Management Committee – Councillor Brian Sandler
  • Chairman Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Councillor Mary Sartin

Council remembers Elizabeth Downes

Tributes were paid to former Nazeing ward councillor Elizabeth Downes who passed away on 7 May. As a fellow councillor from Nazeing, Richard Bassett shared some thoughts on his predecessor, remembered by local residents as a lovely lady.

Council Tax is set for 2018/19

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At a meeting of Council on 22 February 2018, Epping Forest District Councillors made the decision to increase Council Tax for the first time since 2010, following the inclusion of law and order initiatives to improve anti-social issues in the district.

Tax levels may be set higher still as Essex County Council, Essex Police, Essex Fire and Rescue and some Town and Parish Council’s have confirmed increases their Council Tax share too.

An average Band D property will pay an extra £3.69 a year for their District Council Tax contribution.

 

Council Tax

Epping Forest District Councillors agreed the 2.48% increase in the District Council’s portion of Council Tax to absorb the cost of 3 extra police officers employed to work closely with the Community Safety Team. The decision was taken as residents call for more visible policing to deter and deal with cases of anti-social behaviour in local towns and villages.

Finance Portfolio Holder, Councillor Gagan Mohindra said: “This budget is a significant departure from our policy in recent years as it proposes the first increase in Council Tax since 2010/11. This change is necessary to provide additional funds to combat the scourge of anti-social behaviour. Earlier we discussed the problems being faced by our residents on a daily basis and it is vital that we act to address these. We hope that over the 3 year trial period we are providing funding for, the police will be in a better place than they are now and that it will be possible to withdraw our support.”

“This is the first time for eight years that we are increasing the Council Tax but it is for a specific reason and for a limited time period, to provide the public with additional services they have said they want.”

Derek Macnab – Chief Executive

Following the announcement that Epping Forest District Council’s Chief Executive Glen Chipp, is leaving to become Chief Executive of Horsham District Council, Council agreed the recommendation to appointment Derek Macnab as acting Chief Executive and Head of Paid Services with immediate effect.

Council Leader, Councillor Chris Whitbread, thanked Glen Chipp for his service to Epping Forest District Council and its residents before welcoming the appointment of Derek Macnab.

He said: “Derek Macnab’s brief is to maintain the momentum of our modernisation and organisational development of the Council. No doubt he will bring his own personal style and approach to the process, but the drivers for change remain. We are a strong, well-managed Council moving towards a position of financial independence as central government funding ends.”

A minute for reflection

A minute’s silence was observed by Council in memory of Councillor Brian Surtees and former Council Leader Di Collins, who both passed away earlier this month.

A heartfelt speech was first given by Council Leader Chris Whitbread, offering sincere condolences to the friends and family of both former Councillors. An abundance of tributes from Councillors from all parties followed, praising and sharing kind words in memory of both Councillor Brian Surtees and Di Collins.

Elections 2018

Simon Hill has been appointed as Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer for Epping Forest District Council in advance of this year’s elections, on 3 May 2018.

Mr Hill was also appointed Monitoring Officer for the Council, a role which is responsible for the governance of Council officers and elected Councillors.

Former Council Leader Di Collins passes away

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Di Collins, Epping Forest District Council’s former Conservative leader and District Councillor for a total of 19 years, passed away on 13 February 2018.

Di Collins

We offer our heartfelt condolences to Di’s family and friends at this most sad time. The District Council flag in Epping High Street has been lowered today as a mark of respect for the former leader of Council.

Our sincerest condolences

Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor David Stallan said: “My deepest condolences as Chairman of the council go out to her family for their sad loss. It was an absolute pleasure and an honour to serve in Di’s cabinet as Housing Portfolio holder. She was well respected politically across the chamber and for her charitable work across the district.

We will be inviting full Council to stand for a minute’s silence on 22 February in tribute to Di’s memory. Her passing is awful news and she will be sorely missed across large parts of the community in Epping Forest.”

Di shaped the Council

Leader of the Council, Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “I’m saddened to learn of Di’s passing. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this very sad time. As leader, she was instrumental in shaping the Council in to what it is today and we are indebted to her for this.

She was dedicated to the people of Epping Forest and as the Chairman has said, Di will be greatly missed not only by her colleagues but for the work she has done for the people across the district.”

Political career

Di first became a District Councillor in 1991 and was elected to represent the Epping Hemnall ward, which she did until 1999. In 2001 she was elected to represent the Passingford ward and served her constituents until she retired in 2012.

She became Leader of the Conservative Group in 2004 and furthered her political success by becoming Leader of Epping Forest District Council in 2006, a role she undertook for 6 years.

She was a member of many committees and panels, she also represented the Council on many outside organisations such as, Epping Forest Local Strategic Partnership, the East of England Regional Assembly, the Corporation Board of Epping Forest College and the East of England Local Government Association.

Compassionate fundraiser

She was known to the Council as a dedicated and compassionate fundraiser. Di supported an incredible number of local charities and community groups. Di was Chairman of the Epping Forest Primary Care Trust, where she supervised the construction of a new building at St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping.

She also held positions such as; Chairman of the Board of Governors of Epping Forest College, Chairman and later President of the Epping Forest Conservative Association and Governor of Epping Junior School.

Citizen of the Year 2013

She was a major fundraiser for national and local charities including the RNLI, Abbeyfield Society, St Clare’s Hospice and the League of Friends of St Margaret’s Hospital. So much so that in 2013 one year after she retired from her role as Councillor, she was awarded the accolade of Citizen of the Year for her commitment to the district, its people and to the Council.