Less crime, fewer victims

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Consultation, Crime and safety, Democracy, Epping, Local business, Loughton, Media, Meetings, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

The newly-elected Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Nick Alston was guest speaker at the meeting of the Safer, Cleaner, Greener Scrutiny Standing Panel on 12 February 2013.

Nick Alston Essex Police and Crime Commissioner
Nick Alston Essex Police and Crime Commissioner

Councillors, Youth Councillors, Parish Councillors and members of the public came along to listen to Commissioner Alston’s priorities and vision for the future. After a short introduction detailing his background, Commissioner Alston outlined what he had been doing during the 11 weeks since his election.

Watch the webcast of Nick Alston

He was very complimentary about Epping Forest Community Safety Partnership, saying it is one of the best and most active in Essex. Many Councillors, including the Leader of Council Councillor Chris Whitbread expressed their gratitude for the recognition of a very successful Community Safety Partnership, of which we are all very proud.

Commissioner Alston then faced some difficult questions, ranging from response times, reporting crimes, environmental crimes, such as fly-tipping and budgets to anti-social behaviour.

Youth Councillors put Commissioner Alston and the senior Police Officers present on the spot by asking some tough questions. Youth Councillor Edward Gokmen outlined problems in the area where he lived at Limes Farm. The Police District Commander accepted an invitation to attend the Limes Farm Youth Action Group so that he can be told what is happening. Community Safety Manager Caroline Wiggins assured everyone that there is a lot of joint working going on at Limes Farm with the police and other agencies and this clearly needs to be communicated to local people.

Commissioner Alston assured everyone that one of his main priorities is tackling youth offending as most people start young. He feels that we must think about our young people and make sure they know of the risks and are encouraged to be responsible. If young people do get caught up in crime, we should intervene early to stop re-offending.

Finally, Councillor Breare-Hall asked Commissioner Alston how he would like us to judge whether he has been successful at the end of his term. Quite simply, Nick said he would like there to be less crime and fewer victims.

For more information about the Police and Crime Commissioner go to www.essex.pcc.police.uk.

Call to build local tourism economy

Written on . Posted in Business, Consultation, Councillors, Leader, Local business, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Supporting business, Travel, Your area, Your council

Businesses have been urged to tap into the tourism market after figures indicate it was worth over £180m in 2010 to the local economy.

The call to everyone associated with local tourism in the Epping Forest district – from visitor attractions, sporting facilities, restaurants, festivals and events was answered on 31 January when more than 80 delegates attended the district’s first-ever tourism workshop.

Representatives from every sector of the industry met with key policy makers from the district and neighbouring local authorities to plan the future of the tourism on offer in Epping Forest.

Visit Epping Forest website

Delegates heard from speakers setting out the current value of this sector to the local economy in terms of income and jobs and forecasts of how this might grow. Individual members of the One Epping Forest Tourism Taskforce including the Corporation of London and Epping Ongar Railway set out what they thought the key opportunities were for the district before all the delegates broke into workshops to come up with the key components of a longer-term development plan.

Chairman of the Epping Forest District Tourism Development Taskforce Councillor Tony Boyce said: “I am really impressed with the large number of colleagues from the business, voluntary and government sector who turned out today for this important event. Clearly Tourism is already a significant contributor to the economy of the district worth over £180m in 2010 but today delegates were clear that we had opportunities to bring in even more. In terms of the future, lots of new ideas were put forward, it was clear that we need a mechanism for enabling all elements of the sector to work better together and to co-ordinate promoting the whole district as well as individual attractions. I think we all know that Epping Forest district is an absolutely lovely place with bags and bags of tourism potential. Our job is to unlock fully that potential.”

Councillor Tony Boyce continued: “The Taskforce’s key emphasis is on ‘doing’. For starters, we have developed www.visiteppingforest.org to promote what the area has to offer. We are also producing a promotional leaflet, collectively promoting ourselves at trade fairs and exploring other joint working opportunities. Going forward we want and need the input of all providers locally. It is clear that our partners believe there is massive untapped potential for inward investment and jobs through greater promotion of tourism across the district.”

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council and Chairman of One Epping Forest was delighted with the response to the tourism summit. Having lived in the Epping area all his life, Chris said: “It always surprises me how much Epping Forest district has to offer. From rafting at the Lee Valley White Water Centre in Waltham Abbey to our historic towns and of course the green open spaces of our beautiful Forest and the Lea Valley Regional Park, there is so much on offer for visitors to our district.”

He added: “Tourism is very important to our area. We need to build upon the Olympic legacy, the opportunities of the Tour de France coming to our area in 2014 and the canoeing world championships at the White Water Centre in 2015. We look forward to welcoming more and more visitors to our local area.”

Mobile website launched

Written on . Posted in Arts, Business, Consultation, Councillors, Emergencies, Environmental health, Health, Media, Meetings, Museum, North Weald Airfield, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Playschemes, Residents, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

If you’re visiting our website from your smartphone you can now choose to use Mobile EFDC - our optimised, cross platform mobile friendly version for news, events, meetings and to report problems when out and about.

Mobile EFDCGo and try it out at http://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/mobile

Mobile EFDC is simpler, clearer, faster - designed to access information when you are out and about,  focusing on our most popular online services.

A third of our users access information using a mobile device, Mobile EFDC makes it easier to navigate on small screens.

By adding a browser bookmark, or adding a shortcut on your phone homepage you can easily interact or contact us with the press of a button.

Embracing the new Government’s digital by default strategy, Mobile EFDC is part of the ongoing project to improve digital services. The update of the council website in-house using Joomla and WordPress open source software saved the council at least £75,000 in development costs and reduced its annual costs by £20,000.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up-to-date with the latest news.

New Chief Executive endorses Youth Council work

Written on . Posted in Community, Consultation, Democracy, Media, Meetings, Our performance, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

The new Chief Executive endorses the work of Epping Forest Youth Council and says “Be the voice of young people. Hold the main council to account.”

It was back down to business for the Epping Forest Youth Council last night, as they held their first full meeting since the Christmas break. On the agenda for the first time was a presentation from Epping Forest District Council`s new Chief Executive, Glen Chipp, followed by a question and answer session.
Youth councillors with new Chief Executive Glen Chipp

Mr Chipp shared his views with the Youth Councillors on what he perceived the council’s strengths and weaknesses are, and set out the changes that would need to be made in the future.

Youth councillors Edward Gokmen and Olivier TinkerMr Chipp went on to tell the Youth Council how impressed he was with the work they have been doing, and offered some encouraging advice. When asked by Natasha Miller “Do you think the Council consults enough with the Youth Council?”, Mr Chipp responded “Don’t wait for us to come to you … bang on our door, about what you think is important”. Equally, when asked by Carina Sander “What advice would you give us, so we are not used as a tick box exercise?” he said “I’m not interested in ticking boxes. I want young people to challenge, as you are doing now”.

Other issues raised by the Youth Council included making information that Council department’s produce, such as the Local Plan consultation, easier for young people to understand. Mr Chipp agreed whole heartedly, telling the Youth Council that it isn’t just young people that struggle to understand it!

Finally, the good news continued when Edward Gokmen, Chair for the meeting, asked Glen Chipp if he would support the Youth Council’s plan to hold a youth conference at the civic offices this summer. Mr Chipp gave his consent, so all that remains to say is – watch this space!

Watch the webcast

New dog control orders start today

Written on . Posted in Animal welfare, Business, Consultation, Countryside and wildlife, Crime and safety, Our countryside, Out and about, Prosecutions, Regulations, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

From Monday 14 January 2013, 3 new Dog Control Orders come into force for all publicly-accessible land in the Epping Forest district. The new orders are being adopted under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

Dog control orders

It is now an offence for a person in charge of a dog to

  1. fail to remove any dog fouling on publicly-accessible land in the Epping Forest district, including Epping Forest which is owned by the City of London Corporation
  2. fail to put a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer, on any public land within the district
  3. fail to limit the number of dogs which a person may take onto public land within the district to 4 dogs

Councillor Will Breare-Hall, Portfolio Holder for the Environment, said: “These Dog Control Orders received support from the vast majority of respondents to the public consultation. On behalf of all our residents, it’s important that the council uses the powers available to it to deal with the small number of irresponsible dog owners who still fail to control and clear up after their dogs, despite the recognised health risks.“

More information, including a copy of the orders and maps identifying the land where the orders apply (the whole of the Epping Forest district) are on the Dog Control Orders page or by calling 01992 564608 for advice.

Housing Allocations Scheme review and new Tenancy Policy consultation

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Consultation, Epping, Housing, Housing repairs, Loughton, Ongar, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your community, Your home

The council is seeking views on its draft revised Housing Allocations Scheme and new draft Tenancy Policy.

Housing Allocations Scheme

The council operates a housing register. This is a list of ‘homeseekers’ who are waiting to be offered a council or housing association property. We are required by law to have a Housing Allocations Scheme for

  • deciding priorities and the procedure to be followed in selecting homeseekers for council accommodation, or
  • nominating homeseekers for housing association accommodation

The council’s current scheme has not been reviewed since its introduction in December 2010 (although it was amended in September 2012 to take account of new Armed Forces Regulations). This was due to new Government guidance that we were waiting for. The guidance was issued in July 2012 and it gives councils the power to decide how accommodation should be allocated, based on local priorities. Allocations can now be made in any way the council sees fit, but the scheme must be both legal and rational.

Tenancy Policy

Social housing providers (such as councils and housing associations) must now publish clear and accessible tenancy policies. They must outline their approach to tenancy management, including actions to sustain tenancies, prevent unnecessary evictions and tackle tenancy fraud. The policy should explain how the needs of vulnerable people are taken into account, and how advice and assistance will be provided.

Our draft Tenancy Policy also sets out

  • the lengths and types of tenancies, and the circumstances under which a particular type will be granted
  • how applicants or tenants can appeal against decisions that we make
  • discretionary rights to succeed to a tenancy

The Council’s Housing Scrutiny Member Panel has considered both documents and our Tenants and Leaseholders Federation is being consulted. The final draft documents will be considered by the cabinet on 15 April 2013. If you would like to comment on the draft revised Housing Allocations Scheme, or the draft Tenancy Policy, please write to:

The Assistant Director of Housing (Operations), Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping, Essex CM16 4BZ.

You can also phone our housing consultation hotline 01992 564762 (24 hour answerphone) or email housinginfo@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.

Information

The information you need can be found in the following documents

Responses are needed by Thursday 14 March 2013. The Council’s Cabinet and Housing Portfolio Holder will then consider the results of this consultation. When approved, the new scheme and policy will come into force on 1 July 2013.

Local Council Tax support scheme adopted

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Community, Consultation, Council tax, Councillors, Democracy, Housing, Meetings, Older people, Private housing, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

Epping Forest District Council’s Local Council Tax Support Scheme has been agreed and adopted by Full Council at its meeting on 18 December. From 1 April 2013 Council Tax Benefit will be replaced by the Local Council Tax Support Scheme (LCTS) as a consequence of the Welfare Reform Act.

From April 2013 people of working age who pay no Council Tax may have to pay some, and those who currently pay some may have to pay more. Key elements of the new scheme are:

  • The calculation of support based on 80% of the Council Tax bill, rather than 100% at present
  • Anyone of working age who lives in a higher Council Tax band, will have their support calculated as if their property was a Band D
  • Inclusion of child maintenance in the calculation (excluding the first £15 per week per family)
  • The capital limit (personal savings) will be reduced from the current level of £16,000 to £6,000
  • Second adult rebate will not be included in the scheme for people of working age
  • A minimum award of £0.50 per week. This is in line with the minimum award in housing benefit
  • The inclusion of an Exceptional Hardship Fund to help the most vulnerable customers affected by the changes

Pension age people are protected from any reduction to their benefit payments under the new scheme although they may need to pay more if Council Tax increases.

Residents who are currently in receipt of Council Tax Benefit will be contacted in the New Year with details of the impact of these changes. Residents are being advised to go online in advance of this communication to find out whether they will be affected by the introduction of LCTS at www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/index.php/residents/council-tax

Councillor Syd Stavrou, Finance Portfolio Holder said: “Councils across Essex have worked together to implement schemes that limit the impact of the central government grant cuts on our most vulnerable residents. The district is losing approximately £1 million a year compared with the old scheme. Pensioners are protected and people in some of the other most vulnerable groups. We have had to make some difficult decisions about who gets help and how much but we feel that the proposals are as fair as possible to the majority of people within the resources available.”

Funding allocated to Councils for LCTS has been cut by 10% and is frozen at 2011 levels; this results in a drop of £1m for Epping Forest District.

 

Proposed dog control orders update

Written on . Posted in Animal welfare, Consultation, Crime and safety, Out and about, Residents, Your area, Your community

Following public consultation, we are proposing to introduce 3 Dog Control Orders (DCO) using powers under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

If adopted it will be an offence for a person in charge of a dog to

  1. fail to remove dog faeces deposited on any public land within the district
  2. fail to put a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer, on any public land within the district
  3. fail to limit the number of dogs which a person may take onto public land within the district to 4 dogs

We consulted residents on the proposed orders for a 2 month period between 2 August and 2 October 2012. The findings will be reported to the council’s cabinet meeting on 3 December 2012, with the recommendation that the council adopts the 3 dog control orders as proposed.

Results of the survey

Comment on potential changes to planning permission for extensions

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Business rates, Commercial properties, Conservation and listed buildings, Consultation, Gypsy and traveller, Housing, Housing repairs, Licensing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has issued a consultation document for 6 weeks seeking comments on possible temporary changes to permitted development rights on extensions.

Among its proposed course of action is to allow homeowners and businesses to make larger extensions to their homes and business premises without needing to submit a planning application. For example, this could allow a maximum 8 metre depth for a single storey rear extension to a detached house and 6 metre depth for any other type of house, without needing planning permission. If approved, this would be a temporary measure for 3 years.

You can comment on this consultation direct to the DCLG, which ends on 24 December 2012, on a downloadable response form by following the link below. This form also includes details of the proposals.

Comment on the DCLG consultation document

First reflections on the Local Plan consultation

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Consultation, Councillors, Gypsy and traveller, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Anyone who wants to know what local residents and stakeholders said during the recent ‘Community Choices’ public consultation can find out in our latest video update.

Councillor Richard Bassett, Planning Portfolio Holder has chosen Chipping Ongar as the location for his second Local Plan blog. He gives an initial assessment of the evidence submitted to Epping Forest District Council on the issues and options facing the district as it continues to prepare a Local Plan covering the next 20 years.

More than 5,500 responses were made in response to the Council’s appeal for evidence and opinions. It will be several months before detailed analysis is completed.

In addition to online consultation documents and a questionnaire, the Council organised a number of evening drop-in sessions throughout the district at which local people discussed the issues and options with councillors and staff face to face. Presentations were made to Town and Parish Councils, several of whom invited district council representatives to talk about the consultation at their public meetings. The district council received letters and emails as well as several petitions, all of which are being incorporated into the body of evidence.

Councillor Bassett said: “We received a great deal of interest and I would like to thank everyone who participated in the consultation. The new Local Plan will be our district’s best defence against inappropriate development as well as enabling us to provide homes and employment opportunities for our children. The evidence and opinions provided by our residents are vital in making it as strong and robust as possible.”

The next stage in the public consultation process will be the publication of a ‘preferred options’ document containing draft policies based on evidence from ‘Community Choices’ and forecasts of population growth and housing need. Eventually this will lead to a ‘submission’ Local Plan for further scrutiny by a government-appointed inspector at an ‘Examination in Public’. Only by successfully passing all these stages will the final Local Plan be adopted as the blueprint for appropriate development over the next 20 years.