Bus News: Route 19 (Epping Station to Harlow) extended to Ongar

From Monday 18 January the SM19 service from Epping Station to Harlow via Thornwood will also run on Saturdays along a route which has been extended to Ongar. [Information from Essex County Council’s Bus Passenger News.]

You can find out more about local bus services here and at Traveline (tel: 0871 200 2233). I’ve also found this independent website useful for Epping to Harlow journeys.

Bus News: H1 replacement bus services

Imperial Buses’ D261 (N261 PJR), a Dennis Dart/Plaxton Pointer, at the 2009 Cobham bus rally at Wisley Airfield from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Imperial_Buses_D261.JPGThere has been some local concern about the withdrawal of the H1 bus service from 19 December. County councillor Janet Whitehouse and others raised concerns about what bus services would be available over the Christmas period before the launch of the revised Service 55 on 4 January.

The latest Bus Passenger News reports that:

From 19 December 2009, Essex County Council will fund a Saturday service operating to the current H1 Saturday route and timetable. This service will be numbered Service H1 and will be operated by Regal Busways.

Between 21 – 24 December and 29 – 31 December Essex County Council will fund a temporary replacement service on Service 55 operated by Travel With Hunny (for a timetable leaflet contact the Essex Traffic Control Centre on 0845 6000 110). Please note that this service will operate to a different route in Loughton to the current service H1. Contact Travel With Hunny on 01708 732604 for full details.

From 4 January 2010 Service 55 will be operated commercially Mondays to Fridays by Travel with Hunny to a revised route and timetable serving Loughton.

Timetable details should be available via this link in due course. This newspaper article gives some background details.

We are lucky to have The Box for young people

I spent an inspiring evening last Thursday at The Box in Epping High Street. Most people in Epping will have passed the premises many times and perhaps peered through the windows and wondered what goes on inside. The Supporters’ Evening was a marvellous opportunity to find out.

The Box describes itself as “a social space, information point and education centre for young people” but it was clear that activity goes far beyond this. As well as providing open drop-in sessions, The Box enables young people to access specialist counselling, health and advice services.

Trustee Alison Dolan explains the success of the Alternative Education scheme

It also delivers alternative education sessions to pupils who are unable to complete their studies successfully at school. I was  impressed to hear how many of these pupils enter college or begin paid employment thanks to the team’s work and the much valued support of some local employers.

A wide range of organisations work in partnership with The Box to help local children and young people including Connexions, Theatre Resource, East 15, Concept Fitness, Epping Sports Centre, West Essex Primary Care Trust and Essex County Council’s TASCC team (“Team Around the School, Child and the Community”).

What shone out most of all was the sheer commitment of the trustees, staff and volunteers. We are very fortunate to have in Epping such an energetic group of people dedicated to meeting the needs of local young people. And there are exciting plans for future expansion too.

The Box is currently running a Christmas fundraising campaign. Details of how to donate are at www.theboxepping.org.uk/donate.htm.

Dragonfly artwork produced by The Box Alternative Education project for the Swaines Green Lantern Festival in September 2009

Essex County Council delivers some of the poorest children’s services in England

I woke this morning to the news that Essex County Council has, for the second year running, been rated as delivering some of the worst children’s services in England. Nine councils are rated as poor, including Essex [PDF report here] and the London Borough of Haringey, which faced massive criticism because of the way it handled the awful Baby P case.

It seems extraordinary that the Conservative councillors who run Essex County Council allowed children’s services to deteriorate so much, especially given the number of high profile child abuse cases that have featured in the national news in recent years. Effective work to protect children is difficult, expensive and unglamorous. Nevertheless it is one of the most important functions that the county council is responsible for.

Read the rest of this entry.

Allnutts Post Office re-opens at last!

This morning I attended the long-awaited re-opening of Allnutts Post Office in Epping. Even before the ribbon was cut, the first customers had arrived with Christmas cards to send abroad and parcels to post. Local residents no longer need to to trek up the steep hill and will also benefit from the excellent service provided by Shanhaz Javid and her team.

Post Office opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 9am until 1pm.

(Of course the rest of the store will continue to be open in the afternoons as well.)

Shanhaz Javid, Janet Whitehouse and Jon Whitehouse celebrate the re-opening of Allnutts Post Office
The store has been completely overhauled with a new shop-front and layout. It is a convenient stop-off for all sorts of provisions as well as for around 170 Post Office products and services. (Allnutts will provide almost all the services apart from car tax renewal. You can even order next-day delivery of foreign currency.

The re-opening is a result of much campaigning by residents and councillors, followed by meetings at the county council attended by Shanhaz and Janet Whitehouse, followed by more meetings and liaison between county council officers and Post Office managers, followed by much hard work to get ready for the opening. The official opening was performed by Colchester County Councillor Kevin Bentley (Deputy to the Leader of the County Council) with Epping and Theydon Bois county councillor Janet Whitehouse and was well attended by county councillors from Loughton, Chigwell, and North Weald as well as MP Eleanor Laing.

It was a big mistake of the Post Office to close Allnutts Post Office in the first place. The branch has been really missed since February 2008. I am sure it will now go from strength to strength.

Essex County Council Election Results in Epping Forest

All the results are now in. The Liberal Democrat highlight in Epping Forest is a victory in Epping & Theydon Bois, where Janet Whitehouse overturned the Conservative majority

  • Janet Whitehouse, Liberal Democrat: 2,481 (42%)
  • James Surguy, Conservative: 2,080 (36%)
  • Andrew Smith, UKIP: 581 (10%)
  • Tony Frankland, BNP: 306 (5%)
  • Daniel Kieve, Green Party: 219 (4%)
  • Simon Bullough, Labour: 192 (3%)

Total number of votes cast: 5,859
Turnout: 45%
Majority: 401

Read the rest of this entry.

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who voted for the Liberal Democrats in Epping Forest yesterday. The votes will be counted at Theydon Bois Village Hall today and you can check the results on the Essex County Council website here.

Some districts, including Chelmsford where the Liberal Democrats won five seats and Brentwood where the Liberal Democrats gained two seats from the Conservatives, have already counted. Full results here.

Allnutts Post Office: re-opening preparations underway

Along with Janet Whitehouse I was calling round on people in Bower Hill and Allnutts Road on Sunday morning. We were delighted to see that preparations for the re-opening of Allnutts Post Office are already well  underway. One of the conditions imposed by Essex County Council is that Allnutts Stores should have a new shop front, so on Sunday the old one came down and a new framework went in.

Work underway on the new Allnutts Stores shop front

It’s clear from talking to residents in the area that people appreciate the hard work that Janet put into getting the post office re-opened.