Water supply discoloured?

Since Wednesday a few dozen residents from Coopersale, Epping and Theydon Bois have reported discoloured water coming out of their taps.

Glass of Water

This seems to be related to mains cleaning work that Affinity Water is carrying out on their distribution network. The discoloured water problem is related to manganese deposits in the water distribution system which have been disturbed by on-going mains cleaning works.

The company now thinks it has mitigated much of the problem but in some areas there are still small pockets of discoloured water. Affinity Water will continue to carry out “passive flushing” of the mains in the affected areas.

Epping Forest District Council’s water quality officer advises that the water is not unsafe to use. However residents have been advised by Affinity Water to flush all affected taps/pipework, where discolouration is evident.

Concerned residents should contact Affinity Water if they need further advice or information. The phone number is 0845 782 3333.

More Epping Forest snow news

I was able to make time on Friday afternoon to go for a good tramp around Epping and Coopersale’s frozen streets (and to drop off a final few Focus leaflets).

Trees along Bury Lane, taken from Bolt Cellar Lane

The effects of the snow are showing up in the form of at least one broken street sign and rapidly deteriorating road surfaces (it would have helped if those particular potholes had been repaired when they first appeared many weeks ago), which I have now reported.

I also did a circuit around Swaines Green and then later walked across the fields along the Essex Way to Coopersale. Wrapped up warmly and with the sun out it was a great feeling – which I appreciate is absolutely no consolation to anyone unable to venture out and therefore shivering at home.

Brickfield Road snowmanThe most impressive snowman I found lurked in Brickfield Road, complete with clementine nose and eyes of coal. More worrying were the two doors elsewhere that I knocked on to tell the inhabitants they had left their keys in their outside locks. Perhaps they had been rushing inside to get out of the cold.

Thankfully, despite predictions, there has been very little snowfall over Friday and Saturday, so the busy roads have been clear of snow. It’s a different story on the side streets.

Recycling and waste collection

The slight change in weather meant the refuse and recycling crews were able to make some collections on Friday but there are still roads that the 20 tonne trucks can’t safely manouvre down and some big piles of sacks awaiting collection as a result. Here’s hoping any snow we get today (Sunday) won’t settle.

The district council’s advice remains to put your rubbish out as normal and it will be collected eventually. Snow update information from the district council is here and should be updated on Monday.


It isn’t clear yet whether the county council will be able to do a full gritting run before the start of the new working week. Updates should appear on the county council’s website here.

Club 195 Update

I’ve spoken to a member of the Licensing Committee who has told me that after a very long meeting and hearing evidence from both sides the committee today upheld the original decision to suspend Club 195’s licence. So the club will remain closed at least until a full hearing later this month.

As I mentioned below, local residents are entitled to submit their views to the committee but should do so by 13 October (next Tuesday).

Caffè Nero gets another chance

There weren’t many council meetings last week but the regular planning sub-committee took place on Wednesday . The most high profile agenda item [PDF] was about Caffè Nero  in Epping High Street: the latest installment of a long saga which dates back to July 2006.

The coffee shop has been trading in defiance of planning law for the last few years but, judging from the emails and comments I have received, it has built up a loyal group of customers in that time. Councillors were asked whether Caffè Nero’s owners should have the opportunity to submit a new planning application which could take account of changed circumstances since the original planning application was submitted in 2006.

I argued that councillors should have the chance to consider a planning application and I’m pleased that other members thought the same. Caffè Nero now has just under four weeks to submit a planning application which councillors will consider in public at a future planning committee meeting.

Allnutts Post Office: re-opening campaign succeeds!

If some of the worst news this week was contained in Alastair Darling’s statement of doom, the best news for me was the news that Allnutts Post Office is to re-open. On Tuesday my fellow Liberal Democrat councillor Janet Whitehouse rang to tell me that she had just come out of a meeting with Shanhaz Javid from Allnutts Stores and the county council. At the end of the meeting a contract had been signed to re-open the post office in about 20 weeks time!

Cllr Janet Whitehouse, Shanhaz Javid and local residents show off the petition signatures calling for the re-opening of Allnutts Post Office

It was a tremendous blow for local people when the post office shut in February 2008 as part of the Labour government’s Post Office closure plan. Hopes were raised when Essex County Council announced, in a blaze of publicity, plans to re-open some of the offices. My fellow ward councillor Janet Whitehouse received positive indications from county council officers. But so far only three post offices in Essex have actually started serving customers again. So when county council officials visited Allnutts Stores in February this year to say that the post office would remain shut it was disappointing, but not an enormous surprise .

Thankfully neither Shanhaz, who provides such an excellent service to her customers, nor Janet gave up. Janet pressed the county council for a meeting. She and Shanhaz travelled to County Hall in Chelmsford to put their case. The county council thought again and agreed to continue discussions. Local people expressed their support for the re-opening and described the problems they had experienced without a local post office. More meetings were held. The county council required Shanhaz to make changes such as a new shop front and changes to the internal layout of the store. At last, thanks to Shanhaz, Janet and the county council all working together, a deal was done and a contract signed.

As Janet said in a letter to local residents who supported her petition:

I am delighted that by working together we have achieved this fantastic outcome. It is now up to all of us to support Shanhaz and Allnutts Stores and to use the Post Office regularly when it re-opens in Autumn.

New bus shelters for Epping High Street

I’m looking forward to seeing new bus shelters on Epping High Street. My town council colleague, Rob Macrae, has been pressing this issue as the current shelters outside St John’s Church and on the other side of the road are well past their sell-by date.

I’m told the new shelters will be much more in keeping with Epping. Hopefully installation will be some time during Autumn.

Railway embankment works

Central Line site visitJanet Whitehouse and I are trying to persuade Metronet to reduce the impact of the works they plan to do along the Central Line embankment. Many residents are understandably concerned about plans to remove trees and other vegetation from the railway line between Brook Road and Epping Station. It’s clear that the planned works will have a devastating effect on the outlook over the railway line, particularly from homes in Sunnyside Road and Crossing Road.

Along with town councillor Olive Dunseath we attended a meeting with residents and representatives of Metronet at Epping Hall in August. Metronet explained that London Underground needs to improve the stability of the embankments but we are concerned the construction works will be disruptive and the removal of the trees will spoil many residents’ outlook

Since the meeting we have been in regular contact with Metronet and met a represetative from Metronet and Murphys on site on 29 August. We are working with the district council’s tree officer, who has been particularly helpful and has suggested how Murphys could change working methods to save some of the trees near Brook Road. We are also pushing for a proper replanting scheme. We need them to do much better than they managed on the Sunnyside Road side of the embankment last time works took place.

Murphys were on site earlier this week doing some preparatory work.