Personal Speech by the Chairman

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Civic events, Democracy, Your council

Chairman Penny Smith giving a personal speechA personal speech by Chairman Penny Smith closing the Epping Forest District Council Civic Awards held at Gilwell Park Conference Centre on 18 March 2010.

Let me begin by congratulating you John as our new Citizen of the Year. Yours is richly-deserved recognition. Tony and Dave also deserve great praise, as do all of this evening’s award winners. What a splendid district we have with so many wonderful people.

As councillors, we take pride in knowing our communities. We work with people, take on their problems and try to make things better – all of which is good. But as Chairman I think you see another perspective.

I thought about this after meeting some old friends at Christmas, past chairmen of Epping Forest District Council who agreed to give readings at the Carol service in All Saints` Church. I think we have a bond of common experience because of the people the chairman gets to meet.

Tom Peters recieves the Young Citizen of the Year award from Chairman Penny SmithIt is very refreshing. Our residents are simply getting on with normal daily life. They are the volunteers at Macmillan Coffee mornings. They are our own council staff or mums and dads with their children at a new playground. They are police, fire and ambulance officers, and the countless other people going about their normal business but adding immeasurably to the benefit of our district.

So for us as councillors, I think the Civic Awards is a chance to stop, draw breath and take a fresh look. To see that behind the newspaper headlines, the political battles and debates, the marvellous award winners we have met this evening represent the tip of an ice-berg. A district full of people achieving great things. A district of kind, generous and gentle people, protecting, helping and caring for each other. But there is one group in our community I particularly want to mention before closing.

John Carr recieves the Citizen of the Year award from Chairman Penny SmithI want to tell you briefly about another event I attended. Last week, students and youth councillors converged on the Council from all corners of the district to participate in our latest Epping Forest District Youth Council conference and debate.

Young people are labelled with negative stereotypes and this was highlighted as an issue during the conference.

But the Conference was another remarkable illustration to me of the fine qualities to be found among the younger generations. I would recommend you take a look at the webcast of their debate on reducing the voting age. As personified by our new Young Citizen of the Year, Tom Peters, our youth councillors and in all the young people who came to the Council last week, we have the finest young citizens.

We should be proud and not disparaging of our young people.

The Councillors of Epping Forest District Council represent a community of which we can be truly proud. Tonight we say thank you to some of our brightest and the best, old and young. But we are also saying thank you to every good citizen of our district – formally recognised or not.

It just remains for me to wish you good night. Thank you to you all. I hope you have had a lovely evening and I wish you a safe journey home. Good night and God bless.

Chairman Learns to Eco-drive

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Democracy, Energy efficiency, Media, Your council, Your environment

Epping Forest District Council Chairman Councillor Penny Smith has taken part in a driving lesson provided by the Energy Saving Trust to learn how to become a more economical driver. Her lesson was part of The Smarter Driving Event which took place in Epping High Street on Tuesday 16 February 2010.

The Chairman drove a two lap circuit of Epping Town Centre and managed to improve her fuel efficiency by an astonishing 11 miles per Gallon. On the first lap she was asked by an instructor to drive naturally in the way that she had been taught. This was followed by a second lap in which the instructor gave practical advice to help change some of the common habits that lead to uneconomical driving.

Councillor Penny Smith and Sarah Creiztman with members of the Energy Saving Trust team

Commenting on her lesson Councillor Smith said: “If everyone in the district were to drive in this smarter way, the environmental benefits would be huge. With the effects of the recession still being felt there is, of course, a financial incentive too. Hopefully we will see more and more drivers adopting these changes and I would encourage anyone who owns a car to find out more.”

More information about the Energy Saving Trust and their Smarter Driving Events can be found on the Energy Saving Trust website.

Chairman Quizzed for Charity

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Civic events, Democracy, Media, Your council

In a brain teasing evening for all participants, the annual quiz night in aid of Epping Forest District Council Chairman`s Charity took place at Theydon Bois Village Hall on Friday 19 February 2010.

In a keenly-fought contest, The Grand Slammers won by nine points from their arch rivals Caterpillars, thus gaining revenge for their defeats in the past two years. Butterflies were third with 220 points, whilst the Chairman`s Team achieved a very respectable fourth position with 212 points. Fairies, one of two Epping Forest Youth Council teams, gained some consolation for finishing in the wooden spoon position by winning the fancy dress competition.

Chairman Penny Smith with the winning team

The proceedings were again smoothly conducted by Quizmasters Ian Willett and Ian White, with considerable assistance from their band of Lieutenants, marshalled by Kim Partridge. The Chairman, Councillor Penny Smith, thanked everyone for taking part and announced that the evening had raised in excess of £700 for her chosen charity, the Epping Forest branch of the Alzheimer`s Society.

    The results:

  1. The Grand Slammers 232 points
  2. Caterpillars 223 points
  3. Butterflies 220 points
  4. The Chairman`s Team 212 points
  5. The Composers 207 points
  6. Pretty Vacant 203 points
  7. Shh IT Happens 183 points
  8. Kay`s Kids 181 points
  9. The Muppets 180 points
  10. Tawney Owls 175 points
  11. Ordinary People 158 points
  12. Super Hero’s 156 points
  13. Hotter & Fuzzier 154 points
  14. Quizee Rascals 151 points
  15. Hot Fuzz 147 points
  16. Fairies 120 points

Jim Axon Plain Old Country Boy Remembered

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Your council

Jim Axon

District Councillors and staff paid tribute and shared fond memories of former Epping Forest District Council Chairman, Jim Axon who passed away in December. Councillors and staff observed a minute`s silence at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Tuesday 19 January 2010 before swapping anecdotes in affectionate recollection.

Councillor Antony Watts led the tributes. Jim Axon was an experienced Councillor when Councillor Watts was first elected in 1987. He was one of a group of Councillors, known collectively as `The Farmers`. Councillor Axon was indeed a farmer at that time and represented the Village of Theydon Bois. Councillor Watts said that he was a man of common sense and few words but forthright when he spoke and a man to turn to for advice. Although very much his own man, Jim Axon was strongly supported by his wife June.

As a Committee Officer, Ian Willett also remembered Jim Axon. He recalled to general mirth in the Council Chamber how Councillor Axon would appear at his office door with the words Ian, I`m just a plain old country boy but ¦ Everyone knew that he was anything but.

Councillors Stephen Murray, Richard Morgan and Roland Frankel made their own tributes. Councillor Murray described Jim Axon as an `independent thinker`, `fair-minded` and `someone who treated everyone with respect`. Councillor Morgan remembered how he spoke his mind. Councillor Frankel knew Jim Axon after he left the Council. He described how Jim Axon missed the Council and how the Council would miss him.

One of life`s characters, Ian Willett would joke with Jim Axon about the one pullover he allegedly wore for 20 years. Councillor Axon would reply that he had another at home `which he kept for best.`

Councillor Penny Smith the current Chairman of Epping Forest District Council thanked everyone for their tributes to a `genial and lovely man`.

Former Chairman Remembered

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Meetings, Your council

Jim Axon

Jim Axon, former councillor and Chairman of Epping Forest District Council from 1991 to 1992 passed away in December.

Christened Walter but known to all as Jim, he represented the residents of Theydon Bois on the District Council from 1979 until 1996. He also chaired Plans Sub-committee B.

Jim Axon was well known within Theydon Bois. In addition to representing the area on the Council he was a local farmer who spent many active years in the community.

The Memorial Service is to be held from 2pm at Theydon Garnon Church on Wednesday 6 January 2010. Jim leaves his wife June and their children.

Councillors will observe a minute`s silence in honour of his memory at the next meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 19 January 2010.

No Gypsy and Traveller Discussion at Council Tonight

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Councillors, Democracy, Gypsy and traveller, Leader, Meetings, Your council

The Council is unable to consider the agenda item concerning the Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan Document at the Council meeting tonight. This is following the postponement of last night’s Cabinet meeting, on Monday 21 December 2009, due to severe weather conditions.

Agreement has been given by the Leader of the Council to hold the rescheduled Cabinet meeting on Monday 4 January 2010. An extraordinary meeting of the Council will probably take place on Tuesday 19 January 2010, subject to the agreement of the Chairman of the Council.

Chairman Opens Nazeing Play Area

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Democracy, Media, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

Local children celebrated the launch of a second refurbished playground in Nazeing on Tuesday 3 November 2009.

Councillor Penny Smith opens the play area

Picture caption – Chairman of Council, Councillor Penny Smith cuts the ribbon and opens the play area in Nazeing with local councillors, local children and Council staff.

The new play facilities at Elizabeth Close were funded via the BIG Lottery Children`s Play Programme to the value of £49,000. Funding was secured by Epping Forest District Council`s Community Development Team, who subsequently worked closely with the landowners Nazeing Parish Council, to bring about the much- needed playground improvement scheme.

Councillors and local children on the new play equipment

Picture caption – Councillors, local children, parents and Council staff on the new play equipment.

The new facility was opened by the Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Penny Smith, who congratulated everyone involved in the project including local children, parents and Council staff from Community Development.

Councillors and local children by the new play equipment

Picture caption – Councillors, local children, parents and Council staff by the entrance to the new play area.

Nominate Your Citizen of the Year

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Civic events, Community, Councillors, Media, Out and about, Residents, Volunteering opportunities, Your area, Your community, Your council

Do you know someone who has shown outstanding courage, or has done something of great benefit to you or your community? Perhaps someone who has shown extraordinary commitment, energy and effort in their particular field or towards achieving a particular goal?

If that person is a resident of the district, why not show your appreciation and nominate them for Epping Forest District Council`s accolade, a Citizen of the Year Award?

The closing date for nominations for the Epping Forest District Council Citizen of the Year 2010 is fast approaching. Forms should reach the Council no later than Friday 27 November 2009. The Citizen of the Year 2010 will receive their award at the Annual Civic Reception in March 2010.

The Council is asking people to nominate a person they feel fits the criteria and deserves recognition. There is no lower or upper age limit but employees of Epping Forest District Council and current serving Councillors are not eligible.

If you know someone who fits the bill and deserves to be recognised, fill in a nomination form. The forms can be obtained at Council Information Desks at Epping, Loughton or Waltham Abbey and Buckhurst Hill Parish Council Information Centre.

New Youth Councillors Welcomed

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Meetings, Young people, Your community, Your council

The newly-elected Epping Forest Youth Council has been formally welcomed. On Monday 19 October 2009, a special event was held at the Civic offices, Epping to introduce the elected Youth Councillors to each other and to the current District Councillors.

The new Councillors were asked to say why they wanted to join the Youth Council and here’s what they had to say …

23 new youth councillors with Council representatives

Chairman of Epping Forest District Council Councillor Penny Smith made a speech to welcome and congratulate the new Youth Councillors on their successful election campaigns. She said: I recommend joining in as much as you can. I hope very much you will take great interest learning about how local democracy actually happens.

Councillor Smith went on to say: Enjoy taking part – your experiences over the next two years will certainly improve the quality of your own personal development as you convene in this Chamber.

Councillor Penny Smith talks with Harrison Jardine and Haris DuherichCouncillor Penny Smith with new youth councillor Abigail Endean

Councillor Penny Smith shows Duncan Haslam and Connor Lattimer The Forester

In the last few months The Community Development Team and the Democratic Services Team from the District Council have supported five schools across the district to organise elections. The number of seats on the Youth Council has been increased from 17 to 23.

The 23 Epping Forest Youth Councillors

Many of the Council`s Portfolio Holders and Senior Officers were also in attendance at the welcome evening. Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Wellbeing Councillor Brian Rolfe said: The Youth Council has developed a number of successful projects over the last two years and has become a platform in which young people across the district can voice their opinions on issues important to them. I and the other Councillors look forward to working alongside the new Youth Council and seeing what can be achieved in the next two years.

Chairman Welcomes Guests to Copped Hall

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Civic events, Councillors, Democracy, Leader, Your council

Mayors and Chairman from Councils across Essex were able to see the latest renovation works to Copped Hall Mansion at a reception hosted by Epping Forest District Council Chairman, Councillor Penny Smith. The dignitaries were treated to a tour of the mansion which was gutted by fire in 1917, before viewing the gardens on a bright early autumn day in October.

Councillor Penny Smith and guests in front of Copped Hall

Picture caption – Councillor Penny Smith, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council and guests in front of Copped Hall.

Councillor Penny Smith with the Chairmans Escort Ian Hull in the Copped Hall gardenFrom being an empty shell open to the elements, members of the Copped Hall Trust have now made the mansion weather-proof. New floors and staircases are gradually being constructed as the Trustees open up the building for visitors. The gardens and many of the associated buildings have now been restored to something approaching their former glory. Historical artefacts and photographs form part of an exhibition in some of the newly-restored rooms.

Copped Hall is being opened up to cultural and community events ranging from music recitals to the now annual Rotary fun-run through the Estate.

Picture caption – Councillor Penny Smith, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council with the Chairmans Escort Ian Hull in the Copped Hall garden.

Councillor Penny Smith said: “Copped Hall is part of our district’s heritage. The current mansion was built in the grounds of a previous Tudor house where the first performance of ‘A Mid-summer Night’s Dream’ is reputed to have taken place. With the help of many volunteers, the Trustees have done a tremendous amount of work. Copped Hall is now open for advertised guided tours and the reception provided the perfect opportunity for us to spread the news about Copped Hall across Essex.”

Guests shown around the Copped Hall walled garden

Picture caption – guests shown around the Copped Hall walled garden.

“There is still much work to be done but the mansion retains a special atmosphere. As floors are laid, fireplaces are restored and the Trustees add furniture to some of the rooms, you begin to get a sense of how the house must have felt in its heyday. From the cellars and kitchens up to the main rooms and bedrooms, Copped Hall and its estate accommodated a rich and diverse community of people. It was a focal point for the people of Epping and Upshire. As the restoration continues, it is once again becoming a major asset to our district.”

Alan Cox of the Copped Hall Trust shows guests the renovation works

Picture caption – Alan Cox of the Copped Hall Trust shows guests the renovation works.

Councillor Smith’s guests enjoyed a light lunch in one of the newly-restored rooms, resplendent with a blazing logfire in a magnificently restored fireplace.