Epping public meeting about the local plan

The Epping Society has organised a public meeting about the Epping Forest draft local plan which will take place on Monday 14 November at 7.30pm in Epping Hall, St John’s Road. Going on past experience the meeting could be quite busy so if you plan to attend it’s worth turning up in good time.

There is free parking in Bakers Lane car park opposite Epping Hall.

Draft local development plan open meeting, first come first served, no reserved seating, Monday 14 November 2016, 7.30 to 9pm, Epping Hall, St John's Road

Epping Forest Local Plan exhibitions

This is exhibition week for the Epping Forest Local Plan. I gather the events that have happened already have been well attended. Epping’s turn is tomorrow at Epping Hall in St John’s Road from 3.30pm until 8pm. Parking is free in Bakers Lane car park opposite after 6pm.

Please come along to discuss the plan with council staff and ask questions. A number of councillors will also be there.



At last some news on the St John’s Road site in Epping

For the first time Epping Forest district council has revealed proposals under discussion for the St John’s Road development site in Epping. (The site comprises the vacant former Epping Junior School site, the Centrepoint building on St John’s Road opposite the library, the Epping Hall site occupied by Epping Town Council and the district council’s housing depot site with access via the slip road to the High Street.)
Speaking at the district council’s Asset Management and Economic Development Cabinet Committee last night Chris Pasterfield, who is the officer who leads work on the council’s land-holdings, reported that proposals currently being discussed with developers Frontier Estates, include
  • a “relatively small” supermarket anchoring the scheme
  • small cinema, “probably three schemes”
  • Town Square
  • restaurants
  • some residential
  • offices (including for the town council replacing its office at Epping Hall)
  • car parking

It is clear there is still a lot of discussion and debate to be had.

Mr Pasterfield said the next stages are for the three councils involved to agree Heads of Terms with Frontier Estates, then negotiate a development agreement and then for the developer to submit a planning application.

There is a report on this going to the district council’s decision making Cabinet next Monday (21 July). It’s currently scheduled to be discussed in private session but Janet Whitehouse and I are asking for the discussion to be moved into public session given the significance of the the decision to the town. Hopefully that will bring more information into the public domain than the slightly sketchy details given above.
You can watch the report to the Asset Management Committee on the council’s webcast archive: the St John’s item is between
53:23 and 55:24 minutes. I was surprised to hear the comment about Epping Town Council as I believe a formal decision about the Heads of Terms has not been taken by the Town Council.
I hope to add more information as it becomes available.

Scams are crimes. Help stop them.


May is Scams Awareness Month (organised by the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Trading Standards Institute.

These are just a few of the scams that the Essex County Council Trading Standards team has come across this month:

  • Emails purporting to be from HMRC in regard to being eligible to a tax return of £288.87 in which the business has to register details. The email address from which the email has been sent is a no-reply and not an HMRC email address.
  • An email to a resident purporting to be from a police force outside Essex.  It stated that his computer had been hacked and used to look at child pornography and copyright infringements.  The email stated that £100 needed to be sent to stop a virus destroying the hard drive of the computer.
  • A business has been contacted about their business rates.  The business was charged for the service but so far nothing has been delivered.  The company offering the service is purported to be operating from Bolton.
  • A resident ticked a box on a health food supplement website for a free sample.   The resident has now been sent a supply of capsules and the company is asking for £64.90 and have stated they will continue to send product at 30 day intervals.  On calling the company the resident was told that they needed to email head office for a refund but the “contact us” button on their website was not working.  The company is purported to be operating from West Lothian in Scotland.
  • A resident received an email purporting to be from HMRC stating that he was a beneficiary of a fund amounting to around $15 million dollars.  In order for the funds to be released a copy of their passport and drivers licence was required.

Spot Scams! Stop Scams!Scams are schemes to con people out of their money. They can be carried out by post, phone, email, online or sometimes via a knock on the door.  Scams take different forms such as fake lotteries, prize draws, bogus health cures, dodgy investment schemes, pyramid selling and phishing.

The best piece of advice is: “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!”

You can check the Action Fraud alerts for common scams and frauds at www.actionfraud.police.uk/news.

It is likely to be a scam if:

  • The call, letter, email or text has come out of the blue
  • You’ve never heard of the lottery or competition they are talking about
  • You didn’t buy a ticket – so you can’t win it!
  • They are asking you to send money in advance
  • They are telling you to respond quickly so you don’t get time to think about it or ask family and friends before you decide
  • They are telling you to keep it a secret
  • They seem to be offering you something for nothing

What should I do with something I think is a scam?

  • Don’t reply to spam mail, texts or emails
  • Say “no thank you” politely and put the phone down if they persist
  • Phone the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06 for advice
  • Check the Action Fraud alerts for common scams/ frauds www.actionfraud.police.uk/news
  • Ask friends, neighbours or family if the offer is likely to be a scam
  • Destroy and throw away mailings.

What can I do to tackle scams?

  1. Report scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk
  2. Get advice from Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06. It can provide advice and pass details on to Trading Standards
  3. Tell someone. Tip off a friend, neighbour or relative about any scams you become aware of
  4. Down load and read the My Scams Checklist leaflet at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/sam13-checklist [PDF]

How can I protect myself?

  1. Never give out contact details like your name, phone number or address to strangers or to people who should have this information already.
  2. Never give financial information or details of your identity, bank accounts or credit card to strangers or to the businesses that already hold your details.
  3. Shred anything with your personal or bank details on – don’t just throw it away.


Developers try again at Wintry Wood Service Station site

Every Friday Epping Forest District Council publishes a list of recently submitted planning applications. The first thing I do is to look for anything that affects Epping before I scan the file for any significant applications elsewhere.

Wintry Wood Service Station

The most interesting local application this week is yet another attempt to develop the old Wintry Wood service station site on the Thornwood Road. There can be no doubt that in principle the site is suitable for redevelopment. It is previously developed land which is not in the Green Belt. However earlier attempts to build flats have not found favour with the local planning committee (on which I sit) for various reasons – including the bulk of earlier designs and the impact on neighbours.

The revised application proposes twelve flats (10 x two-bedrooms, 2 x 3-bedrooms) and the plans can be viewed on the district council’s website.

The site is not as straightforward to develop as might initially be supposed because of its relationship to existing houses along Thornwood Road, its proximity to the Lower Forest and the fact it is pretty much the first bit of Epping that people see if they are entering the town from the north (from Harlow / Thornwood). This makes it a sensitive so-called ‘gateway’ site.

As a member of the planning committee I won’t take a final view until I have taken account of any representations submitted by neighbours, Epping Town Council and other interested people and considered the report which council officers will prepare. But I would be interested to know what other people think.

59-65 St John’s Road

There is a much smaller scale application which also caught my eye. An applicant in St John’s Road is seeking to install cast iron railings apparently very similar to the original walls in place of the existing mixture of boundary treatments. Again, I will need to reserve final judgement until I see any representations but at first sight it looks a positive move.

It’s especially interesting to see someone going against the common trend to demolish boundaries and pave over front gardens (in order to provide off-street parking).

Do you use non-emergency patient or passenger transport in Essex?

If you use non-emergency patient or passenger transport (such as for attending hospital or clinic appointments) the NHS in Essex would like to hear from you.

The five Essex Primary Care Trusts, Essex County Council, Southend Borough Council and Thurrock Council are looking at the provision of non-emergency transport for health and social care across Essex.  An important part of this project is gathering feedback from existing users of the services, so that this can be used to develop services for the future.

This team is interested in your experience and suggestions about anything that could have been done better.  Please send your feedback, including details of the area in which you live, to Karen.Hepworth@see-pct.nhs.uk by Wednesday 22nd December.

Information from Voluntary Action Epping Forest and Essex and Southend Link

EFDC sets budget but rejects Lib Dem council tax freeze

Epping Forest district council set its budget last night (meeting papers available here). When I last wrote about the budget I said I hoped there would be an opportunity to reduce the planned council tax increase below the 1.5 per cent rise discussed at the cabinet sub-committee meeting.

Thanks to a bit of work by council officers, which was shared with all groups, we were able to confirm that a council freeze this year would not put the council’s medium term financial strategy or its financial stability at risk. After a close look at the latest figures – especially by Ongar councillor Derek Jacobs and me – the Liberal Democrats were able to put forward a budget amendment incorporating a council tax freeze: i.e. a district council tax rise of 0%.

There is often an assumption in local government that council tax should always increase, but the Lib Dem group felt strongly that Epping Forest residents deserved a break from relentless council tax rises. Yesterday’s inflation figures highlighted how much household budgets are under pressure at the moment because of VAT and fuel increases. Thanks to the millions of pounds that the council has stashed away in its reserves, we were able to propose the freeze without cutting into services

Unfortunately the Conservatives (and the other groups) were determined to stick to their council tax increase so our council tax freeze was voted down. It may be some consolation to residents that the 1.5 increase agreed is still less than the 2.5 per cent increase proposed at the start of the budget process.

Epping Parking Review timetable

The timetable for the Epping Parking Review has slipped again. I now understand that the Traffic Regulation Orders (official notices from the county council advertising the formal proposals) will probably be published in early February. As Janet and I reported in the most recent Epping Focus leaflet, the main way residents will know about this is from notices attached to lamposts.

Residents will be able to inspect the full proposals by looking at Essex County Council’s website or at Epping Library.

The links on the left of this page give outline details of what we expect to happen.