Stars shine bright at civic awards

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It was a bittersweet Epping Forest District civic awards ceremony at Gilwell Park on Friday 18 March as councillors and guests came together to honour the district’s finest.

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In pictures

Civic Awards 2016

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Citizen of the Year

The evening hosted by the Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Elizabeth Webster, culminated with the announcement of the prestigious Citizen of the Year Award to Thornwood resident and Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator Mick Sheen. Mick passed away suddenly on 30 January. He knew he had been nominated for the award but did not know that he was the winner. Colin Green of Toot Hill was highly commended for his long years of service to Essex Police and volunteer work in and around Ongar.

Chairman Liz Webster paid tributes to all the award winners but particularly Mick Sheen whose family were understandably unable to attend. Mick’s friends Caroline Wiggins and Colin Freeman accepted the award on his family’s behalf.

Chairman Webster said: ‘I hope this recognition will give Mick’s family some small comfort at such a difficult time. Our hearts and wishes are with his wife June, daughters Samantha and Sue and the rest of their family.’

Volunteer Team of the Year

Epping Forest Countrycare received a special Volunteer Team of the Year award. Ray Ellis, Cherry McCredie, Polly Nichols, Jack Welchman, Mary Dodd, Pam Mayes, Abigail Oldham and Kevin Mason received the award on behalf of all the district’s Countrycare volunteers.

Young Citizen of the Year

Molly Gayler from Lambourne End is the Epping Forest District Young Citizen of the Year. Introducing the award, Vice-Chairman of Epping Forest Council, Councillor Jeane Lea described Molly’s wonderful work supporting children with disabilities and her passion for sport. Samantha Burton and Jordan Michaelson, both from Waltham Abbey received commendations in the Young Citizen category. Ellouise Lemon who also received a commendation was unable to attend the ceremony.

Community Service Medals

Councillor Mary Sartin introduced the Community Service Medals awarded to Sub Officer Jonathan Ford of Red Watch, Loughton (Essex Fire and Rescue Service), Collette Howell represented by Stuart Miller (East of England Ambulance Service), and PC Paul Richards (Essex Police).

Youth Council Cup

Epping Forest District Youth Council Cup winners Joseph Pasco, Malachi Fontenelle, Chloe McKendrick and Doncho Atanassov were introduced by Councillor Richard Morgan.

Sports and Creativity Awards

Councillor Richard Morgan also invited Naomi Harryman of Thornwood to receive the Sports Award of £1,000 from the Chairman. Taylor Danson, Allie Munro and Lynne Jefferies of The Shambles Theatre Company received the Creativity Award for £1,500 to support their ground-breaking work holding violence against women up to the spotlight and tackling the issues around mental health for men.

Chairman’s Charity

Master of Ceremonies Ted Prior announced that almost £1,000 had been raised for the Chairman’s Charity, the Royal British Legion, in a raffle during the evening.


Flying the flag for Commonwealth Day

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The Commonwealth flag was raised outside the civic offices in Epping to celebrate Commonwealth Day.

Joining with local authorities throughout the UK on 14 March 2016, this year’s theme An Inclusive Commonwealth celebrates the diversity of the Commonwealth.

Chairman Liz Webster with the Commonwealth flag

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Proud to be part of

Chairman of Council, Councillor Liz Webster said: “The Commonwealth is made up of 2 billion people from 53 countries, of many faiths, races, languages and cultures, we at Epping Forest District Council are proud to be part of this great family.”

An Inclusive Commonwealth

This year’s theme celebrates the diversity of the Commonwealth, which is made up of more than 2 billion people. Every one of them is different, and each of them has something unique to offer.

The Commonwealth Charter asserts that everyone is equal and deserves to be treated fairly, whether they are rich or poor, without regard to their race, age, gender, belief or other identity.

The Commonwealth builds a better world by including and respecting everybody and the richness of their personalities.

Find out more


£900 raised at charity quiz

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The annual Chairman’s quiz night raised over £900 for this years Chairman’s charity, The Royal British Legion on Friday 26 February at Theydon Bois Village Hall.

Chairman's quiz 2016

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Quizmasters Ian Willet and John Gilbert both former council employees along with current members of staff all gave their time for free to ensure the quiz ran smoothly.

Chairman of Council, Councillor Liz Webster presided over the night, with 17 team taking part. In one of the closest completions in many years, the Scrambled Eggheads, led by Councillor Stephen Neville’s, took the lead with longstanding champions the Grand Slammers coming second.

1st place in the fancy dress competition went to the HR Hurricanes. Dressed in sheepskin bomber jackets and fake moustaches, they were paying tribute to the WW2 pilots who flew from North Weald Airfield.

Wonderful way to bring the community together

Chairman Liz Webster said: “We had such a lovely evening. Thanks to the amazing turnout we raised over £900 for my charity, The Royal British Legion. The quiz was a huge success and is a wonderful way to bring the community together and have fun while raising money.”

Epping Forest marks Holocaust Memorial Day

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Holocaust Memorial Day is on 27 January every year, the theme for 2016 is Don’t Stand By #HMD2016.

Holocaust Memorial Day is a time for everyone to remember the millions of people who have been murdered or whose lives have been changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust and in subsequent genocides throughout the world.

Chairman Liz Webster

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Learn lessons from the past

Chairman Liz Webster said: “We are joining together with hundreds of other organisations up and down the country to mark Holocaust Memorial Day today.”

“Holocaust Memorial Day provides us with an opportunity to learn lessons from the past and apply them to the present day to create a safer, better future. We must strive to ensure that we do not stand by and prevent such horrific events ever happening again.”

HMD Day 2016

HMD Day 2016 will enable people to learn about the ways in which bystanders created cultures in which genocides were able to take place, and about the rescuers and resisters who challenged this.

HMD 2016 will encourage people today to consider the ways in which they can choose not to be bystanders.

This year’s theme is very much about not allowing the same circumstances to arise again in which the Holocaust and other genocides can flourish – to not repeat the same mistakes again.

Holocaust Memorial Day resources

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Volunteer Essex website goes live

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Finding volunteering opportunities in Essex is easier than ever with the launch of the Volunteer Essex website.

The website was simultaneously launched across Essex on 14 January 2016, the Epping Forest launch taking place at Loughton Library. Epping Forest District Council Chairman, Councillor Liz Webster cut a ribbon to mark its launch.

Give volunteering a go

Search for volunteering opportunities throughout Essex by

  • Postcode
  • Interests
  • Activities

Visit the Volunteer Essex website

Volunteer Essex new website launch

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The Volunteer Essex website has a comprehensive directory of volunteering roles that are maintained, managed and quality checked by the Volunteer Centres Essex network. It also has a range of features and information to help people get involved.

One-stop shop for volunteering

“The Volunteer Essex website is a one-stop shop for anyone interested in volunteering” said Chairman Liz Webster.

“It holds details of more than 2,000 unique volunteering roles, available to residents throughout Essex. It also promotes the fabulous work of over 1,000 community groups and charities active in the county.”

“Voluntary Action Epping Forest manages the volunteer centre in the Epping Forest district. It does not just help local people to volunteer – it also offers support to community groups and organisations to develop volunteering roles.”

Chairman Liz Webster ended with: “These are challenging times and as a community we need to work together to ensure a happy and healthy community for all.”

Why volunteer?

People choose to volunteer for many reasons. Some want to make a difference to the people around them and give something back to the community. Others want to develop new skills and knowledge. All find it both challenging and rewarding.

Epping Town Mayor Councillor Michael Wright, Loughton Town Mayor Councillor Judy Jennings, Myrna Gilbert Trustee for Voluntary Action Epping Forest, Maggie Gilchrist Volunteer Centre Coordinator, Sally Panrucker, Marc Balkham Staff at Voluntary Action Epping Forest, Volunteers Alan Oyston, Linda Mays and James Gilchrist all helped to promote the launch.


Chairman’s Christmas message

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The Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Liz Webster would like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.

Christmas message

Hello my name is Councillor Liz Webster,

In May of this year, I was honoured to be elected by my colleagues to the position of Chairman of Epping Forest District Council.

In addition to the important formal duty of chairing the Council meetings, I have had the pleasure of travelling around Epping Forest district.

But, what I have most enjoyed is the opportunity to meet and talk to members of our community, from the very young at play centres, to our oldest residents who live in residential care homes.

Although I have been a councillor for many years and have met many people, it still amazes me to see at first hand, the vast number of ways our local communities work together, to assist and enhance people’s lives.

And so, at this special time of the year, I would like to take the opportunity to convey my thanks to all those people, who do so much for others in our community, especially in the voluntary sector.

Their commitment should be recognised and admired.

Finally, I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.


Helping refuge families at Christmas

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Council staff, Chigwell parishioners and a local resident were all praised by Chairman Liz Webster for their fantastic help in donating gifts for families spending their Christmas in local refuges.

Staff refuge gifts

Pictured from the left are Safer Places Kimberley Bull, Claire Baccarini, Nicola Leach, Chairman Liz Webster, Caroline Wiggins and Lorraine Cordell.

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Local resident Janet Abbott, parishioners at St Winifred’s Church in Chigwell and staff from Epping Forest District Council gave hundreds of presents to Safer Places in Harlow. Safer Places manager Kimberley Bull picked up the presents on 17 December 2015 from the civic offices in Epping.

Organised by Safer Communities Manager Caroline Wiggins the gifts will hopefully make Christmas happier for the families sheltering from domestic abuse in refuges over the festive period.

Help is out there

Chairman Liz Webster said: “Christmas is the time when we think of others and I hope this provides families with encouragement knowing help is out there. Having to spend time away from home can be particularly difficult for families at this time of the year.”

“I would like to thank our local people for their generosity, and my sincere gratitude goes to all our staff who have worked wonders to bring some real festive cheer to those in difficulty.”


Council 15 December 2015

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Tributes to a recently deceased former councillor, an update on the refuse and recycling service, voting registration, councillors allowances and more were discussed at Council on 15 December 2015.

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Former councillor Daphne Borton

Councillors remembered former councillor Daphne Borton at the meeting of Epping Forest District Council on Tuesday 15 December 2015. Chairman of Council, Councillor Liz Webster invited fellow councillors to observe a minutes silence in memory of Daphne Borton who sat on the Council from 2002 to 2007.

Councillor Richard Bassett who succeeded Mrs Borton as ward councillor for Nazeing led tributes. Mrs Borton served the residents of Nazeing for more than 22 years on the Parish and District Councils. Councillors Richard Morgan, Caroline Pond, John Knapman and Brian Surtees gave further praise and offered sympathy for her husband Ed. Councillors also sent the good wishes to fellow councillor Stephen Murray who recent suffered a broken leg in a car accident.

Investment strategy

A series of questions by Councillors Chris Pond and Steven Neville provided Finance Portfolio Holder Syd Stavrou with the opportunity to update fellow councillors on the council’s investment strategy and training opportunities available to all councillors in the New Year. Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Council updated fellow councillors about the potential devolution of services from central to local government and meetings with neighbouring councils. He assured colleagues of his intention to protect the best interests of Epping Forest District Council residents.

Refuse and recycling

Difficult decisions and timely responses back in the summer have led to a stabilised refuse and recycling contract with no further additional expenditure about £13,000 allocated at the time. Environment Portfolio Holder congratulated council staff on the successful turn-around in fortunes for the refuse and recycling service.


Planning Portfolio Holder Richard Bassett reported on recent Central Government guidance on future planning for starter homes and affordable housing as well as possible relaxation of Green Belt policy and use of Brown-Field sites.


The number of people registered to vote in Epping Forest has increased. Portfolio Holder for electoral registration Councillor Jon Philip said that the Council has achieved returns of its Household Enquiry Forms of 98.1% at 1 December 2015.

23,641 (43%) of households used online technology to confirm their registration. A further 2,800 people used the system to confirm personal changes online. This saved taxpayers money on postage and time for staff in back office processing. As a result of the canvass, the electorate will grow from 99,575 to 100,862 for this year, a gain of 1,287 people. Less than 200 non-responders from last year’s canvass will be removed from the register.

Councillors allowances

5 reports by the Cabinet covering the Housing Repairs and Maintenance Hub, Local Plan budget, Calendar of Council meetings, Capital Review and Local Council Tax Support Scheme were all agreed by Full Council.

Councillors voted to agree the report of the independent remuneration panel which sets the level of councillors allowances. Historically councillors have only given themselves 80% of the recommended allowance. This equates to a payment of £3,435 per year.

The report of the panel was presented by Mr Stephen Lye. Comparisons with other councils showed the levels of remuneration to be far lower at Epping Forest. Councillors decided the reduction of 20% on the basic allowance had become unsustainable and agreed a bid for full implementation of £4,300 subject to final approval at the setting of the council budget in February.

Councillors also agreed that responsibility for setting the level of special responsibility allowance paid to the Vice-Chairman and Chairman should be transferred to the Remuneration Panel.


Christmas gifts for refuge families

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Families staying in refuges this Christmas will have a happier festive season thanks to the amazing generosity of customers and staff at the Waltham Abbey branch of Tesco.

Vice-chairman Jeane Lea and Safer Communities Manager Caroline Wiggins collected trollies full of presents for women and children of all ages on Tuesday 15 December 2015 from Michele Moore, Tescos Community Champion.

Vice-chairman Jeane Lea

All the gifts were given to a refuge in Harlow.

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Overwhelmed by generosity 

Vice-chairman Jeane Lea said: “I’m completely overwhelmed by peoples generosity and kindness. My sincere thanks go to Tesco Community Champion Michele Moore who organised the collection, and to all the people who visit Tesco at Waltham Abbey for their support.”

“Christmas and New Year can be an extremely hard time for families in refuges. I hope these gifts will make them smile and feel hopeful for the future.”


Candlelit Christmas celebration

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People across the District gathered for a candlelit Christmas Carol service hosted by the Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Liz Webster and Town Mayor of Waltham Abbey, Councillor Helen Kane at the beautiful medieval church of Waltham Abbey on Tuesday evening 8 December 2015.

Civic Carol Service Waltham Abbey

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Christmas is a time for sharing

The evening was especially moving for Councillor Webster who remembered a previous Civic Carol Service held at Waltham Abbey by her late husband Don Spinks when he was Chairman of Epping Forest District Council 23 years before.

Councillor Webster went on to welcome everyone. She said: “Christmas is a time for sharing, so what could be better than sharing this service with the Town Council. I am delighted that Helen and I have the joint honour to host tonight’s ‘Celebration of Christmas by Candlelight’  in this beautiful historical church. For me Christmas really starts today – so I hope you will sing loudly but donate silently!”

Reverend Peter Smith, Team Rector for Waltham Abbey provided a warm welcome as councillors and their families gathered with local residents for the special Civic Service. The Waltham Abbey Choir was led by Jonathan Lilley and the readings were given by Dr Joyce Smith, Kathryn Richmond, Derek Macnab and Councillors Liz Webster, Antony Watts, Sam Kane and Helen Kane.

The service was also attended by Lord Petre, Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Vincent Thompson, the High Sheriff of Essex, and Norman Hume, the Chairman of Essex County Council.