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Monday: Abridge 5pm-8pm
Tuesday: Toot Hill 4.30pm-5.15pm; Shelley 5.30pm-8.30pm
Wednesday: Coopersale 4.45pm-8.15pm
Thursday: Theydon Bois 4.45pm-8.30pm
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Saturday: High Ongar 4.45pm-5.30pm and Ongar 5.40pm-9pm
Sunday: Epping Green 4.15pm-5.25pm; Epping 5.30pm-8.30pm.


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Campling Foods

Campling Foods 'Meals on Wheels' service delivers hot, freshly prepared meals daily to the elderly and vulnerable in our community. Developed by our talented team, we offer a choice of comforting and familiar meals that are not only nutritious but delicious too! We also include a tasty homemade desert with every order, all for a total price of £6.99 per day, delivered.
For more details ring or message 07507 763078. 

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2.01pm - February 27

DEBDEN: Licence granted for gaming venue with 40 machines

A licence for an 'Adult Gaming Centre' with some 40 gaming machines has been granted for premises in The Broadway, Debden.

Eight of the machines at 'Slots O Luck' will have maximum payouts of £500 while 27 will have £100 payouts and five will have £8 payouts, according to papers submitted to Epping Forest District Council with a premises licence application.

The premises - at 65 The Broadway (the Come n Play cafe and former Santander branch) - will be open from 10am until 10pm Monday to Friday, 10am to 8pm on Saturdays and 10am to 6pm on Sundays.

David Miller, a former police inspector speaking on behalf of the British Amusement Catering Trade Association (BACTA), stressed to the licensing sub-committee that the venue was for adults only (aged 18 and over) and anyone who appeared to be aged under 25 "will be challenged".

He added no gambling machines would be visible from the frontage of the premises and all members of staff would act as "door supervisors".

Loughton Town Council objected to the application stating "there are already a number of gambling establishments in this street where young people and children pass and congregate."

An objection was also lodged by Loughton Residents Association's plans group on the grounds of "crime and disorder and harm to vulnerable and young children".

Its objection stated: "There are already far too many gambling businesses in this small local shopping parade such as William Hill, Ladbrokes and a new gaming centre which has opened recently opposite the application site."

It added: "We consider young vulnerable adults will be attracted and easily exploited by the glamour and glitz of such a use.

"They will all too easily lose money they can ill afford to lose and this will lead to more crime and anti-social behaviour as young adults who hang around The Broadway will be persuaded or bullied into losing their money by gambling on the slot machines.

"Overall, The Broadway has an over-abundance of gambling and gaming establishments and we must prevent young adults from being exposed to any more."

A local resident also objected to the application which was granted by the licensing sub-committee earlier this month.
6.47pm - February 26

THORNWOOD: Three detained for drug possession as car seized

A man has been arrested and a further man and teenaged boy dealt with for drug-related offences after police found a vehicle believed to be on cloned plates in Thornwood.

Community Safety Team officers were on patrol early yesterday evening (Thursday) when they discovered the Audi A4 unattended.

Four people fled when they saw the officers.

Three people were detained by Community Safety Team, Town Centre Team, Community Policing Team and Special Constabulary officers. 

Following searches of the suspects and the nearby area, an 18-year-old man from Epping was arrested on suspicion of possessing a controlled drug with intent to supply. 

Another man and a teenaged boy were dealt with for possession of a controlled drug outside of custody. The Audi A4 was seized. 

The arrested man has been released from custody under investigation pending further police enquiries.
6.23pm - February 26

THEYDON BOIS: Housing development plan revealed

Plans have been revealed for a development of 28 homes in Theydon Bois. 

The development - proposed by the Anderson Group on a open field at the end of Forest Drive - would comprise six two-bedroom bungalows, four two-bedroom houses, four three-bedroom houses, two four-bedroom houses, one five-bedroom house and one two-bed apartment while the 'affordable housing' element of the development would see eight one-bedroom apartments and two two-bedroom apartments.

A document submitted with the application states: "The key opportunities are the gently falling, largely visually enclosed and broadly regular-shaped parcel of developable land area available, set against a tree lined background to the northern and western boundaries. 

"Such characteristics enable the creation of a residential development which will be relatively self-contained within the wider landscape, with little visual impact upon the existing surrounding areas or residents. 

"The proposals will provide much needed new housing, including affordable housing, which will enable a positive impact upon the character and appearance of the surrounding built form of the village.

"This proposal will successfully 'dovetail' into its immediate surroundings providing a scheme that is responsive and sensitive to the site and its wider context. 

"Each dwelling is carefully designed to enhance the feeling of a natural progression to the Theydon Bois built environment."

The application will be considered by Theydon Bois Parish Council before a decision is taken by Epping Forest District Council.
2.56pm - February 26

LOUGHTON: Food store and "national discount retailer" on the cards for vacant High Road premises

A food store, take-away, health store, hairdressers and "large national discount retailer" outlet are on the cards for the parade of shops in Loughton bought by Epping Forest District Council for almost £20m.

News of the potential new arrivals to the High Road comes as the council revealed a supermarket chain had pulled out of talks to take over FIVE of the retail units.

Confirming the final cost of the council's property purchase, commercial and regulatory services cabinet member Aniket Patel told last night's district council meeting Centric Parade and 202-226 High Road were bought by the council in December 2019.

He said the freehold of 18 retail units, office space and nine flats had been purchased for a net sum of £18.645m, which resulted in a total purchase price of £19.834m when Stamp Duty and land tax, legal and associated fees were included. 

No VAT was payable on the purchase.

Explaining the current situation regarding a number of vacant retail units along the stretch of High Road, Mr Patel confirmed - as exclusively revealed by Everything Epping Forest - that fast food chain McDonald's had pulled out of a move into the former Pak Choi restaurant.

Mr Patel said McDonald's had terminated a lease after deciding that several planning conditions imposed by the council as part of the planning approval were "unacceptable".

Mr Patel said the council had "received back from tenants" the former Clinton's shop, Rush Hair Salon premises, Percy Ingle bakers and Thomas Cook travel agents branch.

He added that both New Look (216 High Road) and Clark's (4 Centric Parade) had entered a Company Voluntary Arrangement which had resulted in the rent charged changing from a set sum to a turnover-based rent which had resulted in a loss of income to the council.

Mr Patel told councillors: "The council employed a city-based surveying firm who had previously been used with great success at our retail park (Epping Forest Shopping Park in Langston Road) to market the vacant premises. 

"Despite Covid there was significant interest from several national retailers in the vacant premises and advanced talks were progressed and Heads of Terms agreed with a national food operator to occupy five units on the High Road. Unfortunately the operator recently pulled out of this transaction. 

"Terms have also been agreed at market rent with a national health and wellbeing operator for the former New Look premises. 

"Under the turnover rent forced on the council by the CVA, New Look were paying less than half the market rent and in the light of this strong offer and another offer from a national retailer the council has served a break notice on New Look to end their tenancy in order to achieve a greater income for the council,

In respect of the other premises, 220 High Road (the former Percy Ingle bakers) is under offer to a local A5 operator who has two other successful premises in the district and on 210 High Road (the former Rush Hair Salon) we are in the final stages of agreeing terms with a local hairdresser who again has other premises within the district."

Mr Patel added: "With regards to 202 and 204 High Road (Pak Choi and Clinton's) we have received an offer from a good covenant to operate a new fresh food based offering and subject to a survey we also hope to receive an offer from a large national food retailer for the premises.  

"220 High Road (Percy Ingle) has only recently been put on the market as this formed part of the abortive food retailer deal and we would expect interest for this small property as it allows the trader to operate from the prime section of Loughton High Road at reasonable rent.

"With regards to the Clark's premises, which are subject to a very low turnover rent due to the CVA, we have interest from a large national discount retailer willing to pay the market rent. 

"In addition, we have agreed terms for a new lease with Holland and Varrett and are in negotiation with both WH Smith and Timpsons for a new lease on their existing premies on the parade."
9.08am - February 26

ONGAR: Final chance to ask questions about Ongar's Neighbourhood Plan

A question and answer session for Ongar's Neighbourhood Plan will be held online on Thursday, March 4, at 7pm.

The meeting, to be held via Zoom, is open to everyone.

The log-in details to access the meeting are: Meeting ID: 836 3345 9142 Passcode: 008668 or
CLICK HERE

The Neighbourhood Plan, which will help shape the future of the town, has been published for consultation, with March 18 the deadline for comments to be made.

The consultation version of the Plan can be viewed
HERE

If you require a hard copy or would like to make representations, ring the Parish Clerk on 01277 365348 or email np@ongartowncouncil.gov.uk

At the end of the consultation period the Plan will be reviewed and submitted to Epping Forest District Council together with all the supporting documentation setting out who has been consulted, how the consultation has been undertaken and how the representations have informed the Plan.

The district council will then invite representations before the plan is subjected to Examination by an Independent Examiner. 

Once any further amendments have been made the Plan will be subject to a local Referendum.

If the Referendum is successful, the Plan will be “Made” by Epping Forest District Council.

Ongar Town Council chairman councillor Kevin Piggott said: "The Neighbourhood Plan is the result of many months of hard work from the Ongar Neighbourhood Plan Community Group who have produced a document which sets out how local people want to see their town develop in the years ahead.

"With the Epping Forest District Council Local Plan earmarking various sites in the Parish for housing, it is vital that Ongar has a Neighbourhood Plan which details how the local community would like to see its community develop over the next ten, 15 or 20 years."

He added: "There is no doubt Ongar will see developments in the years to come and so we need a document that allows us to encourage developers to build what we believe our community needs and requires.

"Such a Plan can also influence where and what kind of development - for businesses as well as housing - should take place."
8.25pm - February 25

DISTRICT: District council approves "real challenge" budget
  
A budget which includes a freeze on the council's share of council tax bills has been approved by Epping Forest District Council.

Finance portfolio holder John Philip told tonight's full council meeting that setting the 2021-22 budget had been "a real challenge" but added: "We have been able to balance our budgets and maintain frontline services without any (council tax) increase."

Spending plans for the coming years highlighted by councillor Philip include £91.5m on the council's ongoing council housebuilding project, £25m for the new leisure centre in Epping, a £1.5m project to create a community hub in Waltham Abbey involving the Epping Forest District Museum and Waltham Abbey Library and the redevelopment of the business units in Cartersfield Road, Waltham Abbey.

Mr Philip said the budget had been achieved by "minimising fees and charges (increases) where possible" with no increase in parking charges.

Council housing rents will increase by 1.5 per cent from April.


Independent councillor Stephen Murray said he was "really glad" the council had been able to freeze its share of council tax bills while maintaining frontline services and said he could support the budget "100 per cent".

Housing and community portfolio holder councillor Holly Whitbread welcomed the zero per cent rise in council tax and highlighted the council's housebuilding project, the council-funded Essex Police officers and earmarked funding for the new Epping Leisure Centre.

She said: "This has really been an extraordinary year. This council has shown why we are here and play a real community role during that time."

 
7.44pm - February 25

LOUGHTON: Council urged to accommodate library in The Broadway

The leader of Epping Forest District Council has promised to "explore the opportunities" which could be available for Debden Library to move from New City College to The Broadway.

Councillor Chris Whitbread's comments were in response to a question asked by Independent councillor Stephen Murray at tonight's full district council meeting when Mr Murray said The Broadway was the "rightful place" for Debden Library.

Mr Murray said the library should be relocated into one of the district council's shop units in The Broadway, a move which would "help the library community and increase footfall, and act as an anchor for other shops and businesses in The Broadway".

Councillor Whitbread said he would discuss the matter with the libraries cabinet member at Essex County Council, councillor Susan Barker, and "explore the opportunities you (councillor Murray) have put forward".
7.05pm - February 25

LOUGHTON: Three boys arrested over robbery at station

Three teenaged boys have been arrested following reports of a robbery at Loughton Station.

Police responded at 5.30pm yesterday (Wednesday) to a report of a robbery when threats were alleged to have been made in order to obtain personal items. 

Local police officers were on scene in just over five minutes and located three suspects while a train was held. 

Three teenagers - two from London and one from Billericay - were arrested on suspicion of robbery and taken into custody for questioning. 

They were released today (Thursday) on conditional bail while the British Transport Police officers continue their enquiries. 
UPDATE 1.17pm - February 26

An Essex Police spokesman told Everything Epping Forest: "Officers attended the Cottis Lane car park in Epping on the afternoon of February 24 following notification from Epping Forest District Council of an unauthorised encampment at the location.

"An initial site assessment was conducted by police and individuals engaged with. The Essex Police Rural Engagement Team are aware and working with officers at Epping Forest District Council within the Community Resilience Team to address the situation."


6.18pm - February 25


EPPING: Council seeks possession order over car park travellers

A possession order is being sought by Epping Forest District Council after a number of traveller caravans moved onto the Cottis Lane car park in Epping earlier this week.

A district council spokesman told Everything Epping Forest this afternoon: "So far, the travellers have failed to comply with the legal notices we have already served and we have therefore instructed legal services to seek a possession order from the County Court. 

"We are also seeking advice on obtaining an injunction to prevent the travellers from moving onto other council land within the district."
4.15pm - February 24

LOUGHTON: New City College students prepare for phased return

Students at New City College's Epping Forest campus will be returning to their on-site studies on a phased basis from March 8.

Senior staff are working on a 'safety roadmap' which includes "robust"
Covid testing, the wearing of face masks and a phased return for students.

The college says its online lessons have been very well attended through the latest lockdown, with the college issuing more than 2,000 laptops for remote learning.  

CEO and group principal Gerry McDonald said: “All our students and staff have worked incredibly hard in their remote lessons however it’s now important for students to get back to the practical side of their courses to develop the skills they need to get qualified. 

"We will have our own roadmap to prepare for a safe return for all students and staff.” 

He added: "Whether you’re studying A-Levels, a full-time vocational course or you’re a part-time adult student, we are prioritising your safety in our plans to get you back to campus learning.” 

The college already has a robust model of Covid testing at each of its campuses and is ready to scale this up as necessary. 

Masks will be compulsory at least until Easter in line with Government guidelines. 

Each group of students is being carefully considered in the phased return and will be informed about when they should go back in to college.
3.50pm - February 24

LOUGHTON: Concern over £12.4m library site redevelopment plan

Essex County Council is budgeting almost £12.4m for the redevelopment of the Loughton Library site, budget papers reveal.

However given the quoted estimated £12.369m cost of the scheme, Loughton Residents Association councillor Chris Pond fears more than the "approximately 20 homes" allocated for the site in Epping Forest District Council's Local Plan may have to be "stuffed" into the development to make "extra profit" for the county council.

Economic development cabinet member Tony Ball did not answer a question from councillor Pond at Tuesday's virtual full county council meeting when Mr Pond sought clarification over how many storeys any proposed new development would be.

Mr Pond asked: "If he (councillor Ball) goes ahead with his plan to demolish Loughton Library and replace it with a smaller library under a block of flats, could he please tell us... how many storeys of flats he is anticipating building?"

Councillor Ball replied: "I recognise councillor Pond's emotive language.

"This will go through the planning process and (we) will get the best value and the best quality library that we possibly can for the development and for the benefit of Loughton residents."

Mr Pond can then be heard to shout: "How many storeys?"

Mr Pond later told Everything Epping Forest the budget figure "would make the selling price per flat even to recoup that £600,000, unless they (the county council) want to exceed the 20 flats allocated. 

"The temptation (for Essex County Council) will be to make extra profit by stuffing this with extra development only four minutes walk from the Special Area of Conservation."

He added: "We need to know what they intend. Nobody will say.

"Everyone was assuming two storeys above the new and smaller library, but three or four?

"We don't want the adverse effect on the Special Area of Conservation with extra vehicles on a site so near it, and the flats will have to be taller as they say they need a garage floor underneath the lot."
2.45pm - February 24

CHIGWELL: Woman suffers head injury in collision

A woman suffered a head injury when she was in collision with a vehicle on Manor Road, Chigwell.

Police were called at 4pm yesterday (Tuesday) following a report that a vehicle had been in collision with a pedestrian.

A police spokesman told Everything Epping Forest: "The woman sustained a minor head injury and was taken to hospital for treatment."

The road was shut until 7pm while police dealt with the incident.
7.01pm - February 23

EPPING: No town council objection to nail and beauty salon

A change of use planning application to turn the former La Ruche fashion shop in Epping High Street into a nail / beauty salon has met with no objection from Epping Town Council.

Councillor Barbara Scruton said: "We don't need another nail bar but it's better than an empty shop."

A final decision will be taken by Epping Forest District Council.
1.05pm - February 23

NORTH WEALD: Tree planting scheme will remember former council vice-chairman

Three locations have been identified by North Weald Bassett Parish Council to plant 200 trees - oak, field apple and crab apple - which the council has received from the Woodland Trust.

Two areas at Weald Common, behind North Weald Village Hall - one featuring some 90 trees in an 'orchard-style fashion' - have been decided on by the council's environmental committee along with an area near the Debt of Honour off Hurricane Way.

A plaque will be placed at Weald Common to recognise the council's tree planting scheme with the area named after former parish council vice-chairman and Hastingwood councillor Brian Eldridge who died last year.
1.04pm - February 23

NORTH WEALD: Parish council freezes allotment fees

North Weald Bassett Parish Council has agreed to freeze its fees for allotments for the 2022-23 financial year.

Any changes to allotment fees have to be made with 12 months notice.

The parish council's environmental committee has also agreed to postpone its annual meeting with allotment holders until September.
1.57pm - February 22

DEBDEN: College takeover of Debden Library "no longer an option"

The future of Debden Library remains uncertain after New City College told Everything Epping Forest a proposal for the college to take over the running of the Essex County Council library was "no longer an option".

An online meeting to discuss the future of the library is being held tonight.

In a statement issued to Everything Epping Forest, a New City College spokesman said: "The college has researched and explored options to develop an enhanced library service which meets the changing needs of local people. It is disappointing that the proposed model would not cover bottom line staffing costs. 

"The college is interested in continuing constructive discussions with the council to reach a viable solution but unfortunately the previous proposal is no longer an option."

Epping Forest Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE) has repeatedly opposed the college taking over the running at the library.

A SOLE spokesman said: "We obviously hope this takeover is now at an end. We believe that instead of charity shop libraries housed and run by volunteers, Essex needs a properly funded professional library service with paid and trained staff and dedicated library buildings.

"This seeming collapse of the very first takeover must be an embarrassment for Essex County Council and its strategy for libraries.

"It's time to end this closure plan by stealth, and the years of cuts to opening hours and the book stock - nearly half a million books over the last decade have gone - and more big cuts just short of a million to the library budget this coming financial year. One wonders then just how much heart the college had in our library? 

"With this being the case, it underlines the importance of the library leaving the college and returning to the heart of our community on The Broadway. It will boost both Broadway use and library use. 

"The college could still partner with the library for some of the good ideas they had for linked education activities and of course the library must return as publicly funded, publicly run, and publicly and democratically accountable to the local community. Let this be the end of outsourcing."
1.11pm - February 22

EPPING: Playground fundraisers set £120,000 target

A fundraising target of £120,000 has been set by a parents' charity which wants to refurbish an Epping playground.

The Epping Playground Association is working with Epping Town Council’s playground committee to help improve Epping’s play areas. 

The charity, formed by six local parents in 2019, is initially focusing on Lower Swaines Recreation Ground. 

Trustee Habibah Wise said: "Our first priorities have been to secure an equipment provider and agree plans for the play area. We are excited by the plans although there’s a lot more to do to fund the project."

Early development plans include new playground areas for toddlers to young teens, agreed collaboratively by the Epping Playground Association and the playground committee. 

These areas promise to create a fun and stimulating environment in keeping with the area’s natural beauty.

The initial cost of the playground development is estimated at £120,000, of which about £8,000 has been raised thanks to a £4,000 grant from the Grange Farm Trust, other local grants and the generosity of local residents and businesses.

With limited fundraising opportunities in the immediate future, the charity is seeking backing from local businesses and benefactors.

Trustee Karen Laing said: "This is a project for Epping’s community. Whilst we will be applying for grants we would love for this to be a project backed by Epping’s businesses and residents. 

"We’ve been grateful to have already received offers of time and skills as well as generous donations from local businesses.’

The association is welcoming local businesses be a part of the project by sponsoring equipment (with a plaque). 

Trustee Siobhan Garrett said: "Every family in Epping should have access to high quality play opportunities on their doorstep. Play builds healthy children. Physically, socially and emotionally.

"The effects of the latest series of lockdowns on the health and wellbeing of children has highlighted the need for this project. Our children need a space to connect, develop and grow."

To support the fundraising effort
CLICK HERE
9.49am - February 21

LOUGHTON: Candle starts house fire

A family has been left temporarily homeless while damage is assessed after a candle started a house fire in Connaught Avenue, Loughton.

Firefighters from Loughton and Waltham Abbey were called to the detached property at about 12.05am this morning.

An Essex County Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said a candle which had been thrown out of a first-floor window set fire to decking and the fire spread to the kitchen. 

"A candle had set light to net curtains in a bedroom. The occupant panicked and threw the candle out of the window and, very unluckily, it set fire to cushions on garden furniture. 

"Unfortunately, the cushions were extremely flammable and the fire quickly took hold, breaking the kitchen window and spreading to the kitchen."

The family got out, stayed out and called 999.

"Thankfully, Loughton Fire Station is less than 500 metres from the house and crews were able to deal with the fire really quickly.

"The fire was completely accidental and really unfortunate but it does highlight the dangers of candles. If you are using candles, please make sure they are away from materials that might catch fire and make sure they are completely out when you leave the room or go to bed."

The fire was extinguished by about 1.50am and crews used a fan to clear the smoke. 

The ground floor suffered smoke damage, the decking area was badly damaged and the bedroom window and fascias suffered heat damage, the spokesman added.

The family has been left temporarily homeless while the damage is assessed.
1.40pm - February 20

WALTHAM ABBEY: Driver seriously injured in tree crash

A seriously injured driver was freed from his car by firefighters after the vehicle hit a tree off Woodridden Hill, Waltham Abbey, this morning.

Two fire crews - from Waltham Abbey and Chingford - were called out at about 8.15am following the crash which happened near the bottom of the hill, before the Woodbine pub.

Firefighters took about 45 minutes to free the casualty who was taken to hospital with what police described as "serious injuries".

A police spokesman said enquiries were "ongoing" into the circumstances leading up to the crash.

The road was closed until about 11am while the vehicle was recovered.
6.02pm - February 19

ABRIDGE: Car crashes into doctors surgery

Emergency services were called out this afternoon after a car crashed into the doctor's surgery at Abridge Village Hall.

An eyewitness told Everything Epping Forest that police, firefighters and an ambulance were at the hall, off Ongar Road, late this afternoon.

An Essex Police spokesman said no serious injuries have been reported.

The area remains taped off this evening with the car embedded into the front of the building.

Damaged brickwork is clearly visible beneath a front window.
2.36pm - February 19

UPSHIRE: Train carriages to be primary school library and pre-school

Three train carriages are to be used as a pre-school and a library at Upshire Primary School.

The school is raising money and seeking sponsors so it can install a 'platform', book shelves and connect the carriages to the utilities. It is also looking for railway track on which to site the carriages.

A former 'first class' carriage will sit on the playground and be transformed into a library which the children can use at lunchtimes. Most of the seats and tables will remain enabling the carriage to be a luxurious and relaxing place for the children to read and play board games.

The other two carriages will go on the field behind the pre-school. The seats will be removed making them suitable for many purposes. 

The school's finance and personnel manager, Julie Hockley, told Everything Epping Forest: "Initially they will be home to our breakfast and after-school clubs as Covid-19 has made it impossible to use the spaces that have been used historically.  

"Having the extra spaces means we will not have to restrict available places and therefore can go back to ‘business as normal’ for our working parents. Once Covid-19 has gone, we will also use these two carriages to offer additional pre-school places to the local community."

She added: "The children are really excited. This is such an exciting project but it will cost a lot of money. We are looking for sponsors who can in turn share in the publicity surrounding the project.

"We have a fundraising team who are busy planning events to raise as much money as possible.  

"We have not set an overall target, we are instead focusing on each individual event as it comes. We hope this project will be good for the profile of Waltham Abbey and Upshire."
8.52pm - February 18

ONGAR: 'Round table discussion' before decision over Greensted Road homes plan

A "round table discussion" between the developer and local representatives is set to be held before a decision is taken over plans for a 93-home development off Greensted Road, Ongar.

District councillor Paul Keska told Thursday's town council meeting: "The town council has got to put in a strong objection to this.

"This development will go ahead in one form or another because it's in the Local Plan.

"To say 'I don't like it' is not an argument but I have been given a lot of information from the Neighbourhood Plan Group, the town council and residents who say there are a lot of improvements that should go into."

Mr Keska said a "round table discussion" would take place between the developer, district council officer and interested parties before it goes before a district council committee for a decision.

He added the application had been put back until March, but he did not expect the proposals to be considered next month.

Councillor Jane Battersby said a 600-name petition opposing the development will be presented to Epping Forest District Council next week.

The proposed development - 69 houses and 24 flats arranged in the main as semi‐detached and terraced properties - is earmarked for land between Fairfield Road and Chipping Ongar Primary School.

There would be a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom and four-bed properties, 40 per cent of which (37 homes) will be 'affordable'.

Ongar Town Council has already submitted its objections to the plans.
8.35pm - February 18

ONGAR: Three councillors co-opted onto town council

Three councillors have been co-opted onto Ongar Town Council - including former chairman Derek Birch who only resigned a month ago.

Mr Birch is joined by local resident Adam Seffens and chef Jack Bell, who runs The Cock pub and restaurant in Ongar High Street.

Mr Birch, whose resignation was reported to the January meeting after he had been a councillor for six years and chairman for four years, told tonight's council meeting: "When I stood down from the council I left it in good order - in better shape than it had been. It only had one direction it could go in and that was upwards.

"One of the reasons (he resigned) was because there were other interests I wanted to pursue and being chairman was taking up a tremendous amount of my time.

"I've now found that I have the time that I need and I could probably still stay as a councillor. I have the capacity now to probably do it."

Mr Seffens told councillors he had lived in Ongar for nearly 20 years and wanted to "at least assist and help Ongar improve".

He added: "I just really want to make a difference. I want to do something for the community."

Jack Bell said he wanted to "get more involved with the local area and just try to rejuvenate Ongar, and increase the footfall for every business."

Mr Bell, who lives in Sawbridgeworth, told councillors that pre-coronavirus he employed 35 people at The Cock which he has run since July 2019.

"I adore Ongar so just want to put my best foot forward for everybody in the town," he said.

After considering the three applications in private session, council chairman Kevin Piggott said: "The three of you are co-opted onto the council. Welcome on board."
7.31pm - February 18

SEWARDSTONEBURY: Police secure closure order for illegal party house
 
Police have secured a closure order for a property in Sewardstonebury which has hosted four illegal parties since New Year’s Eve.

Most recently, 18 people were fined a total of nearly £15,000 after officers attended an unlawful house party at Knoll House in Bury Road on Saturday, January 30.

That came after police received reports of a number of people having a party at the privately-rented property in a clear and blatant breach of coronavirus regulations.

Police officers had already dispersed illegal gatherings at the property three times, on New Year’s Eve and twice earlier in January.

Now Essex Police has secured the closure order from the courts stating the order was necessary to prevent coronavirus breaches and disorder continuing.

The order means no one can go into the property or live at it.

District Commander Chief Inspector Antony Alcock said: “It has taken a significant amount of work from our local community policing team in order for us to gain these powers which means people cannot go to the property, they cannot reside at it and certainly cannot engage in any further unlicensed music events.

“I am really grateful to people who have reported these events so far. It is a difficult time for everybody and made more difficult by the people who are choosing to ignore the restrictions.

“People who are adhering to the restrictions, please tell Essex Police if you witness breaches.

"We will respond and will take matters seriously and will issue fines where there are clear and blatant breaches.”
3.21pm - February 18

EPPING: Town council backs 100th anniversary event for war memorial
 
Epping Town Council has given its support to a proposed commemoration event to mark the 100th anniversary of the Epping war memorial.

A wreath laying ceremony involving the town council, Royal British Legion and St John's Church is proposed as part of a rededication of the war memorial.

There could also be an exhibition and celebration, possibly including some of the VE Day commemoration activities that had been planned for last May, depending on COVID-19 restrictions at the time.

The war memorial was unveiled on May 8, 1921.

Epping Town Council has received the necessary permission to clean the memorial with the work scheduled for May/June.
3.08pm - February 18

LOUGHTON: Benches at landmark viewpoint to be temporarily removed

Two benches at the top of York Hill in Loughton from where panoramic views over London can be experienced are to be temporarily removed following incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Loughton Residents Association councillor Chris Pond told Everything Epping Forest the decision had been taken by the City of London, which owns the land on which the benches stand.

He said: "The City of London have insisted on the removal of the two benches overlooking the big panorama over London and Kent at the top of York Hill. 

"This is because of incidents of anti-social behaviour and to stop people assembling during lockdown and annoying residents, who have justifiably complained."

He added: "The seats will be put back, we are told, when the anti-social behaviour stops and things quieten down."
8.19pm - February 17

LOUGHTON: Town council eyes up High Road shops if it has to find temporary accommodation

A "decamp" to vacant retail premises along the Centric Parade area of Loughton High Road could be a possibility if Loughton Town Council has to seek temporary premises should the current library site be redeveloped.

It has been reported that Essex County Council has proposed demolishing the existing library at Traps Hill with the site to be redeveloped with flats and a smaller library.

Councillor Chris Pond told tonight's Loughton Town Council meeting that the larger vacant retail units - the former Clinton Cards and New Look stores - would be a "good possibility for a decamp" while any building work was taking place at Traps Hill.

He said any temporary accommodation would be required for about a year.

Mr Pond added the larger vacant retail units - which are owned by Epping Forest District Council - could accommodate the town council, a library and Citizens Advice Bureau.
7.53pm - February 17

LOUGHTON: Murray Hall to be COVID-19 Vaccination Centre

The Murray Hall in Loughton is to be used as an NHS Vaccination Centre from March 3, tonight's Loughton Town Council meeting has been told.

Town clerk Mark Squire told councillors the centre would operate between 8am and 8pm.

He added discussions had taken place with Transport for London (TfL) over the possible re-routing of a bus route to serve the Borders Lane hall, however TfL had said this was not possible because of the number of vaccination centres its routes had to serve across the London area.

Councillor Chris Pond said it was a "great pity" route 397, which serves Debden, could not have been extended.

He said: "We did have a number of discussions about The Murray Hall (being used as a vaccination centre) and (the council) thought it was our clear public duty to make it available."

Councillor Stephen Murray said: "The idea of extending the bus service would have been better but it is good that Loughton people will be able to go to The Murray Hall.

"Buckhurst Hill isn't a million miles away but this is a bonus."

He added: "If we are having lots of people perhaps giong to The Murray Hall for the first time they will see what an excellent venue it is."

* The temporary use of The Murray Hall as an NHS Vaccination Centre means alternative premises are having to be found for a polling station for the local and Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex elections on Thursday, May 6.

Councillor Chris Pond said he had told Epping Forest District Council to approach Essex County Council over possibly using the youth centre adjoining The Murray Hall.

The town council was due to have elections last year but the pandemic meant all elections were postponed.

Councillor Pond said councillors elected in May would serve a three-year term.
3.25pm - February 17

CHIGWELL: Fitness instructor sets running challenge

Fitness instructor Ros Conway, from Chigwell, is challenging herself to run 5km and is holding online fitness sessions for Rare Disease Day on February 28.

Her efforts are raising awareness of aplastic anaemia, which she was diagnosed with almost three years ago, and to raise money for the Aplastic Anaemia Trust.

Aplastic Anaemia is a rare condition that occurs when your body stops producing enough blood cells. 

The condition leaves sufferers fatigued and prone to infections and uncontrolled bleeding. If untreated it can be fatal.

The only cure is a stem cell transplant from a donor although this is not an option for everyone. Some patients are on supportive medication to control the condition.

The Aplastic Anaemia Trust, which relies on donations, supports aplastic anaemia sufferers and their families and raises funds for research into the disease.

For more details
CLICK HERE
3.05pm - February 17

EPPING: Nail and beauty salon plan for High Street

 A change of use planning application has been submitted for a nail / beauty salon in the former La Ruche fashion shop at 156 High Street, Epping.

The application will be considered by Epping Town Council next Tuesday before a decision is taken by Epping Forest District Council.
2.52pm - February 17

NORTH WEALD: New air ambulance base to be operational in summer

The Essex and Herts Air Ambulance has taken possession of its new purpose-built airbase at North Weald Airfield.

The new facility will have space for two helicopters and two of the charity's rapid response vehicles. 

The helipad has underground heating to keep it free of snow and ice while the building will have an interactive visitor centre and areas for training, mentoring, patient liaison and fundraising.

The building has been designed with `green’ issues including charging points for electric cars and photovoltaic roof panels which will generate electricity with any excess supplied to the National Grid. 

There is bicycle parking for staff and as much waste as possible will be recycled. 

The building has been well insulated to retain heat and reduce noise pollution and will make as much use as possible of natural light to save on electricity. 

Work has begun on the internal fit-out with the facilities scheduled to become operational by June.
5.20pm - February 16

DISTRICT: MP joins youth councillors for virtual discussion

A range of issues were raised when Epping Forest MP Dame Eleanor Laing joined Epping Forest Youth Councillors for an online discussion.

Dame Eleanor said: "They are a great bunch of young people representing all the senior schools in the Epping Forest constituency.  

"We discussed everything from vaccinations to campaigning for equality to quantitative easing.  

"I was particularly interested to hear how they are coping with studying online.  

"They were brilliantly upbeat about the challenges they face and told me that their schools have been very understanding about how to structure lessons online, building in breaks and other activities to try to balance their work and plan their days."

Dame Eleanor added: "This generation of young people are having a much more difficult time than any other in recent years but I have every confidence that they will make the best of the challenges they face and will flourish."

Youth councillor Bianca  Nedelcu, who represents Roding Valley High School, said: "Dame Eleanor was glad to hear that our schools are very supportive in these unprecedented times and how they give us necessary breaks.

"It was a pleasure to speak to her about our achievements within the Youth Council. Her answers were very informative and she seems like a wonderful person."

Youth Councillor Martin Prinsloo, who represents Davenant Foundation School, said: "Dame Eleanor Laing reached out and connected with us, she was interested and listened. I am proud to call her our MP as she has a lot of experience and works very hard.

"It was great to talk to our MP about our work at the Youth Council."
1.22pm - February 16

WALTHAM ABBEY: Plans emerge for 425-home development

Initial details have emerged of plans for some 425 homes in Waltham Abbey.

Manor Oak Homes is promoting the proposed development for land north of Parklands.

The scheme is described as "a residential-led development of around 425 market and affordable dwellings" with areas of "publicly accessible open space and associated infrastructure". 

The land forms part of the Waltham Abbey North Masterplan Area earmarked for some 740 homes, a local centre, community facilities, traveller pitches and publicly accessible open space in Epping Forest District Council's emerging Local Plan.

A spokesman told Everything Epping Forest: "Manor Oak Homes are working alongside other site promoters and Epping Forest District Council to bring forward some initial proposals for the Waltham Abbey North Masterplan Area in line with the council’s emerging Local Plan. 

"We hope to be able to share our ideas and seek residents views as part of a consultation exercise later this year.”
12.58pm - February 16

ONGAR: Former town council chairman seeks council return a month after resigning

The former chairman of Ongar Town Council is seeking a return to the council just a month after resigning.

Derek Birch, whose resignation was reported to the January meeting, is one of three candidates who have put themselves forward for co-option at Thursday's meeting.

There are currently six vacancies on the council.

Mr Birch had been a councillor for almost six years, and was chairman for four years.

He has not responded to a request for a comment to explain why he now wants to return.

In a statement issued to Everything Epping Forest following his resignation, Mr Birch said: "I now wish to pursue other interests which I had put on hold, and consider this to be a suitable time to stand down from Ongar Council and as chairman, leaving it in better condition than when I was first elected."

Locum town clerk Mike Letch told Everything Epping Forest on Tuesday morning that he had not received a letter to go before councillors at the meeting explaining Mr Birch's reasons for seeking co-option. 

Councillors will also consider co-option applications from local resident Adam Seffens and chef Jack Bell, who runs the Cock Inn in Ongar High Street.

In his letter to the council, Mr Bell states he is "passionate about the local area of Ongar and regenerating the high street for local businesses and local people".

Mr Seffens, in his letter, states he has lived in Ongar for 19 years and has "always taken a keen interest in our local community and (has been) an active participant in local activities".

He adds: "I now feel this is the perfect time to step away from being a social media keyboard warrior and step up to help make a positive difference.

"I feel I have the particular skill set to become a valuable member of the council to assist in finding ways in which we can rejuvenate Ongar to once again become somewhere our residents want to support as a community."

There are two vacancies in the Marden Ash ward, two in the Chipping Ongar ward and one each in the Greensted and Shelley wards.
9.10am - February 16

CHIGWELL: Six households evacuate homes after flat blaze

Six households had to evacuate their homes when a fire broke out in the kitchen of a flat in Trotwood, Chigwell, last night.

Three fire crews - from Loughton, Waltham Abbey and Hainault - were called out shortly before 8.30pm after the blaze spread out of control after the resident had tried to tackle the fire in the kitchen while cooking. 

An Essex County Fire and Rescue Service spokesman added that the resident got out of the flat, stayed out and called the fire service.

Five other families in the block of flats also evacuated when hearing their neighbour's smoke alarms.

On arrival, fire crews reported that the second-storey flat had flames and smoke coming out of the windows.

They had put out the fire by 9pm.

The flat suffered smoke and water damage.

Firefighters remained at the scene to ventilate the flat and the neighbouring flats.

Watch Manager Mark Lemon, from Loughton Fire Station, said: “Most house fires start in the kitchen so we’d urge the public to be extra careful when cooking. 

"If you discover a fire in your home, get out of the property, stay out and dial 999."
7.12pm - February 15

DISTRICT: More than 1,000 fines issued to forest 'Red Route' drivers

More than 1,000 fines have been issued against vehicles parked on the double red line 'Red Routes' through Epping Forest since the restrictions were introduced last May.

Epping Forest District Council has said North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP) is regularly patrolling daily with additional patrols at weekends and Bank Holidays. 

A report to next week's full council meeting states: "Since the introduction (of the Red Routes) well over 1,000 PCNs (Penalty Charge Notices) have been issued. NEPP are also using the CCTV enforcement car."

In one visit alone some 154 illegally parked cars were logged.
6.52pm - February 15

NORTH WEALD: 'Community sports centre' plan for former gymnastics centre

The former Epping Forest Gymnastics Centre on the edge of North Weald Airfield is set to become a 'community sports centre'.

A report to next week's Epping Forest District Council full council meeting states that the centre, off Merlin Way, is "under offer" to a community sports centre" with the transaction having been approved by the council with the matter now with solicitors "to progress to completion".

​The report adds: "This is now pending submission of the tenant's works/fit-out and thereafter is expected to complete."
6.23pm - February 15

NORTH WEALD: HMRC lorry checkpoint "fully operational" from tomorrow

The HMRC Inland Border Facility on North Weald Airfield - which could be in use for five years - becomes fully operational from tomorrow (Tuesday).

The HGV checkpoint, for lorries heading to and coming from the EU, has been operational since January 1.

The site was closed over the weekend for "essential work".

Now it has emerged that the facility will only be operating at full capacity - which could mean up to 53 HGVs on the site at any one time - from tomorrow.

North Weald Bassett Parish Council has been made are of some parking issues.

Epping Forest District Council, while stating in a report to next week's full council meeting that there has been "very little disruption to the local road network and airfield operations, says some complaints have been received from residents regarding a "small number" od HGVs parking in Vicarage Lane West which is a designated clearway.

The council reports adds: "That said, the facility will not become fully operational until February 16 after which time we will  have a far better idea as to its effect on the local surroundings."
12.52pm - February 15

EXCLUSIVE

LOUGHTON: McDonald's drops High Road branch plans

Fast food chain McDonald's has pulled out of plans to open a branch on Loughton High Road, Everything Epping Forest can reveal.

Meanwhile, an Everything Epping Forest investigation has discovered the premises which it had planned to take over are or have been marketed for an annual rent and rates total in the region of  £112,000, plus a four-figure service charge.

Planning permission for a McDonald's take-away only outlet at the former Pak Choi restaurant was granted by Epping Forest District Council nine months ago - on the casting vote of area planning sub-committee chairman councillor Jo Share-Bernia - after councillors were deadlocked 10-10 over the plans.

The Pak Choi restaurant - previously Chongs Restaurant - is in the parade of shops which was purchased by Epping Forest District Council in a deal costing up to £23.8m more than a year ago. At the time, the council estimated the purchase would generate a gross annual revenue of £1.4m.

However several of the retail units included in the purchase remain empty.

Everything Epping Forest can reveal that the Pak Choi premises are or were being marketed by two agents.

Marketing literature shows that both agents have quoted a rateable value of £52,000 a year, with one stating the figure was for the 2018-19 financial year. 

One of the agents also quoted a rent of £60,000 a year in its literature dated September 2020, and an annual service charge of £2,750.

The same document also features the neighbouring former Clinton Cards shop with a quoted rateable value of £105,000 a year and a service charge of £7,450 a year.

McDonald's has not given a reason for its decision to end its interest in a Loughton branch with a statement issued to Everything Epping Forest, simply stating: "The site in Loughton is not one we’re looking to progress with."  

Last week Epping Forest District Council cabinet member Aniket Patel, the cabinet portfolio holder responsible for commercial properties, told Everything Epping Forest that all of the vacant units along Centric Parade and the further stretch of High Road owned by the council are being marketed with "significant interest" received from various businesses ranging from supermarket retailers to hospitality. 

He added: "Two of the vacant premises are already under offer and I expect that the rest will follow in the next few months."
12.17pm - February 15

EPPING: ITV drama filming at former police station

PICTURES

Filming is underway at the former Epping Police Station as Hat Trick Productions films scenes for a three-part ITV drama based on the murder of London teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Crews are expected to be using the High Street building until into the evening.

Floodlights are shining onto the frontage of the building while filming takes place inside.

The company has taken over the Bakers Lane car park with an array of trucks and equipment filling the long-stay car park.

The drama, 'Stephen', is the sequel to The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, and has a cast which includes Steve Coogan, Hugh Quarshie and Adil Ray. 

The new series follows the original single drama which first aired in 1999. 

Steve Coogan is playing the role of DCI Clive Driscoll who led the investigation into Stephen's murder. 

'Stephen' will portray events from 2006, thirteen years after Stephen’s death on the evening of April 22, 1993, in a racially motivated attack while he was waiting for a bus in Eltham, London.
UPDATE 2.54pm - February 14

Police have told Everything Epping Forest the victim remains in hospital having sustained "one injury" when he was stabbed in the back in an alleyway off Moreton Road, Ongar, last night.

Police have been in the area carrying out house-to-house enquiries.

The crime scene was taped off earlier today.


11.48am - February 14

ONGAR: Police appeal after man stabbed in the back

A 21-year-old man has suffered serious injuries after being stabbed in the back in an alleyway off Moreton Road, Ongar.

The attack happened shortly after 5.30pm yesterday (Saturday).

The victim was treated in hospital for what police have described as "stab injuries to his back".

No arrests have been made and police enquiries are ongoing.

Police are appealing for anyone with any information to ring 101, submit a report online at https://www.essex.police.uk or use the 'Live Chat' button to speak to an online operator between 7am and 11pm.

Information can also be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or at https://crimestoppers-uk.org.
7.51pm - February 12

DISTRICT: District council's council tax freeze is result of "prudent financial management"

A proposed freeze in the district council's share of council tax bills for 2021-22 is a result of "prudent financial management", council leader Chris Whitbread has said.

The proposal - which would see the district council's share of bills for  a band D property remaining at £152.46 - will go before the full council on February 25 for approval.

Epping Forest District Council has not increased its share of the council tax since 2010 - except for a one-off increase in 2018 to fund three Essex Police officers.

Mr Whitbread said: "The council tax freeze comes against a background of financial challenges and restrictions brought about by COVID-19. However prudent financial management, including reserves accumulated over many years, not only means council tax can be frozen but also means the protection and retention of all our frontline services for our residents.

"We are proud to maintain one of the lowest, if not the lowest council tax levels in Essex while continuing to provide the excellent frontline services that our residents value."

The budget was presented to last night's cabinet by finance and economic development portfolio holder John Philip who emphasised the importance of economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: "We have tried to do more than just leave money in people’s pockets with a zero council tax increase. This comes after a huge emergency grant initiative during the pandemic to support local businesses. 

"As we move from emergency to recovery we are now budgeting for major investment in our local economy and town centres, protecting jobs and improving wellbeing.

"The council’s income has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Pay-and-display parking and leisure centre income has been badly affected as well as lower collection rates for council tax and national non-domestic rates compared to normal years.

"However, the council is pledging to maintain the low 20p parking charge in all its council-run car parks until at least June as part of its ongoing support for local high streets."

He added: "This is alongside a programme of town centre studies designed to support high streets to get back on their feet. 

"Investment in Highway Rangers is also paying dividends, carrying out repairs and improvements around the district."

Mr Whitbread said: "Customers tell us that recycling collections, leisure centres and car parking are important to them, and the council’s primary aim is to secure those frontline services. 

"I am excited to see that despite the financial challenges of COVID-19 we still have money secured for a brand-new Epping Leisure Centre including the swimming pool and sports hall residents said they wanted.

"We reduced the charge in our car parks to support our town centres, our waste contractor, Biffa, hardly missed a single collection due to COVID-19 last year and we are one of the few local authorities forging ahead with building new council housing for local people."

The council is continuing to work with Essex Police through its Community Safety Partnership including dedicated funding for additional police officers in the district.

The council policies has also pledged to become carbon neutral, is investing in its current housing stock and building new council housing.
2.39pm - February 12

EPPING: Christmas market switched to Saturday

Epping Town Council has voted to hold this year's Christmas market on a Saturday instead of a Friday.

Traditionally the market has been held on a Friday from noon until into the evening. 

This year the High Street market will be on Saturday, December 4, provisionally between 10am and 4pm, and subject to more detailed planning.

Councillor Hugh Pegrum told Thursday's council meeting: "If we have it on a Friday evening we have to pay for the generator and lights which is quite a big cost which will mean the market costs us money.

"If we run it in the daytime we can do it without it costing anything. I guess it's down to money."

Town clerk Beverley Rumsey told councillors that if the market was moved to a Saturday then the schoolchildren would probably not be available to provide some of the music entertainment.

Deputy Town Mayor Michael Wright, who supported keeping the market on a Friday: "It (last year's market which was held during the day on a Friday) didn't have the same impact as the market does usually.

"With the schoolchildren singing I think it's part and parcel of Christmas. It's a tradition that I think Epping should maintain."

He added: "I think we should aim for the stars and settle for something a little less. The impact on the town is terrific. It's part of the tradition of Epping town. I think it should be on a Friday."

Councillor Mari-Louise Whitbread favoured a Saturday Christmas market.

She said: "On a Saturday it will be an event people look forward to as a family. It's easier than coming out when they (children) are tired after school."

Councillor Christine Burgess said: "I think people would look forward to it and make an effort to come to Epping to see it.

"People like a Christmas market but also like to go during the daytime. Daytime is much better for small children."
2.06pm - February 12

CHIGWELL: Investigation launched into workshop blaze

An investigation has been launched into the cause of a blaze which destroyed several cars and a workshop in Gravel Lane, Chigwell.

Firefighters were called to the workshop at about 4pm yesterday and took two-and-a-half hours to put out the fire.

Crews from Epping and Hainault were first on the scene, with firefighters arriving to find the workshop completely alight.

They requested two additional crews, from Brentwood and Loughton, to assist.

Monitoring Officer Dave Bond said: "With cars and cylinders inside the workshop, and other buildings close by, firefighters worked hard to bring the fire under control and stop it spreading."
1.28pm - February 12

LOUGHTON: What does the future hold for Centric Parade?

A senior district councillor has told Everything Epping Forest that Epping Forest District Council "will do everything" to revitalise Centric Parade and neighbouring shops in Loughton which it bought as part of a deal costing up to £23.8m.

The council bought Centric Parade and other assets just over a year ago estimating the purchase would generate a gross annual revenue of £1.4m.

But today several of the shop units stand empty with shutters down and a 'To Let' sign up.

New Look is the latest retailer to pull out.

Planning permission for a McDonald's at the former Pak Choi, and before that Chongs restaurant, premises was granted eight months ago but the chain is yet to open the take-away only branch.

The council bought a total of 18 retail units, the 40-plus space car park behind Centric Parade, nine flats above the shops and office space covering 202-226 (even) High Road and 200 High Road, Loughton (Centric Parade Nos 1-6).

Today the council told Everything Epping Forest "exceptional" commercial interest is being shown in the vacant units - with approaches having been made by supermarket chains. 

Meanwhile two units are currently 'under offer'.

Councillor Aniket Patel, the cabinet portfolio holder responsible for commercial properties, told Everything Epping Forest: "There have been various social media rumours circulating about vacant shops and the future of Centric Parade. 

"First of all, we would like to reassure local residents that the district council does not have any plans to knock down Centric Parade. Any potential plans to enhance the current buildings may be considered in the future.

"Even though high street economies across the country have been hit hard by the Covid pandemic, our local Epping Forest high streets have stood up remarkably well under the pressure of the lockdowns and provide important income we use to support public services.

“All high streets have a natural level of vacancies as businesses come and go, but the outlook for our commercial rentals is good. 

"All our currently vacant units are being marketed and we have received significant interest from various businesses ranging from supermarket retailers to hospitality. 

"Two of the vacant premises are already under offer and I expect that the rest will follow in the next few months."

He added: "New Look has been struggling during lockdown and we’ve worked hard with them to retain their current lease at Centric Parade but ultimately the decision to stay or go is a commercial decision for New Look management. 

"We understand New Look is under a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA). Covid has hit so many big high street names hard and we would be sad to see New Look close. 

"However, the commercial interest we have received in our Centric Parade vacancies is exceptional.

“I assure our residents that we will do everything we can to not only revitalise Centric Parade, but support all local businesses to get back on their feet. 

"Currently a lot of work is taking place on regeneration studies and proposals to support the economic recovery of our local towns. 

"Two reports on Loughton High Road and Loughton Broadway will be prepared in the next few weeks.

"We want to make our local town centres busy, vibrant places to visit once again.”
9.19am - February 12

EPPING: Blue plaque approved for Brambly Hedge author

Epping Town Council has agreed unanimously to a suggestion for a blue plaque to be put up on the boundary of one of the former Epping homes of the late author Jill Barklem.

Jill is best known for her series of Brambly Hedge books which have been translated into more than 13 languages with more than seven million copies having been sold.

She lived in Theydon Grove and later on Church Hill, where the plaque will be located.

Councillor John Duffell told Thursday's council meeting Mrs Barklem was "just the sort of person" who should be recognised through the blue plaque scheme.

He added: "Her father was one of the best known shopkeepers in the town (as the owner of the one-time Pynes department store, now Wildwood)."

Councillor Christine Burgess said: "I think it's a really good idea."

Councillor Mari-Louise Whitbread said a blue plaque for Mrs Barklem was "much deserved" adding: "My children grew up with Brambly Hedge".
8.27pm - February 11

EPPING: Skateboarders make plea for skate park revamp

Two Epping skateboarders have called on Epping Town Council to revamp and possibly extend the skatepark on the Stonards Hill recreation ground.

Arry West and his friend, George', highlighted the poor condition of the surfacing and suggested a path around the ramps.

They told Thursday's council meeting that updating the facility would bring benefits to the area, and local businesses, including the nearby Julie's At Stonards cafe.

They told councillors they had already attracted 85 signatures on an online petition.

Arry said: "Skateboarding has been added to the 2021 Olympics and young people will be inspired to pick up a board and skate. More people are skateboarding now than they ever have been.

"At the moment with Stonards they don't have that facility to really achieve their full potential."

Arry highlighted Waltham Abbey and Harlow which "both have mega skateparks that have done wonders for their youth".

He added they had identified potential sources of funding - a GoFundMe page, the National Lottery and the Tony Hawk Foundation which donates to skateboarding facilities.

"We are also taking donations and we are prepared to go and stand on the street and raise money.

"We will all do our best to get the funding for it. It's about time the skatepark got a revamp. It's the only thing at Stonards that hasn't had one (a refurb)."

Councillor Barbara Scruton said: "I would vote to support these young people.

"The skatepark does need something done to it and if these young people are willing to work with us we can see a way forward."

The council agreed to visit the other skatepark areas, in Waltham Abbey and Harlow, and discuss the matter at a working group.
3.18pm - February 11

LOUGHTON: Council rejects suggestion to provide computers for schools

Loughton Town Council has rejected a suggestion from a councillor that the council should consider raising money to provide 'Chromebook' computers for secondary schools in the town for students receiving online lessons during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Councillor Phil Beales, who put forward the idea, told Wednesday's resources and general services committee he was concerned some students were having to use small computer screens.

"They are trying to learn advanced topics by looking at tiny screens," he said.

He referred to one Loughton school where 178 students were receiving free school meals and only 100 laptops had been provided.

Councillor Stephen Murray said: "I completely understand the spirit behind this but I don't think on balance this is something the town council should be doing.

"There's the Government initiative which is a pretty generous thought. The secondary schools - Roding Valley, Debden Park and Davenant - will have scores of Chromebooks within their own schools which they will be loaning out. 

"I can't put my hand on my heart and say absolutely, and I don't think Roding Valley (where he teaches) will be any different from Davenant and Debden Park.

"If you need a Chromebook there is one available from the Government scheme or school sources.

"Even if there was a need, I think it can be met through school PTAs and so on. It's a fantastic thing to have brought up but our amount of money won't make a great deal of difference."

Committee vice-chairman councillor Jill Angold-Stephens said: "I don't think the schools need our support right now because there is the facility there from various places within schools."

She added: "I think maybe we are very fortunate in Loughton because we are a fairly affluent town. The PTAs raise a lot of money and they have the facilities that they need.

"Maybe for a lot of kids the real problem is that they don't need a Chromebook but they need a good internet connection."

Mr Murray thanked councillor Beales for bringing the item forward.

Mr Beales said he would "sleep a little easier tonight" having heard councillor Murray's comments.
3.03pm - February 11

LOUGHTON: Town council awards grants

Fifteen local organisations are to receive grant funding from Loughton Town Council totalling £30,600.

The funding awards approved by town councillors last night (Wednesday) are:

* Affordable Counselling Epping Forest (counselling sessions) £400
* Alfie James Productions (performance skills workshop) £200
* Epping Forest Re-Use (tools) £200
* Grow - Restore Community Church (mobility path and running costs) £4,000
* Noah’s Ark Play Group - Restore Community Church (crafts, toys and running Costs £2,500
* Oakwood Hill Community Centre - Restore Community Church (operational costs) £3,000
* Oakwood Hill Youth Club - Restore Community Church (supplies and crafts) £2,000
* Willingale Community Garden - Restore Community Church (activities and new shed £2,000
* Loughton Voluntary Care Association (running costs and hyacinth bulbs) £450
* Rotary Club of Loughton - 3Food4u (venue rent) £2,500
* Samaritans - Redbridge branch (running costs) £600
* St Michael and All Angels Church (play area) £2,000
* Tinder Sticks (outreach events) £750
* Voluntary Action Epping Forest (providing benefits advice) £1,500

The 14 grant awards total £22,100. The council has also agreed a separate budget item of a grant of £8,500 to the Citizens Advice Epping Forest towards running costs.
2.47pm - February 11

BUCKHURST HILL: Charity "delighted" donor found for Libby

The chief executive of Anthony Nolan has told Everything Epping Forest everyone at the charity is "delighted" a donor has been found for 12-year-old Buckhurst Hill girl Libby Cotts.

Libby was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia, a serious condition affecting the blood where the bone marrow and stem cells do not produce enough blood cells last October.

A social media campaign to raise aware of her case - and to raise money for the charity, with over £130,000 having already been raised - has been supported by numerous celebrities and sports stars, including West Ham footballers, former England and Chelsea footballer John Terry and snooker ace Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Anthony Nolan chief executive Henny Braund said: "Everybody at Anthony Nolan was delighted to hear a donor has been identified and Libby can now start to prepare for the next stage in her treatment. 

"We’re incredibly thankful to Libby, and her family, for sharing their stories so openly and eloquently. They have used their voices to raise awareness and vital funds at one of the most difficult times a family can face. 

"We wish Libby all the very best as she gets ready for her stem cell transplant; we’ll be there every step of the way."

Libby, an active sports enthusiast, had been due to receive a transplant just before Christmas but the donor became unavailable.

Yesterday it was confirmed two donors had been identified.
1.02pm - February 11

EPPING: ITV drama to be filmed at former police station

Filming for a three-part ITV drama based on the murder of London teenager Stephen Lawrence will be taking place at the former Epping Police Station on Monday.

The drama, 'Stephen', is sequel to The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, and has a cast which includes Steve Coogan, Hugh Quarshie and Adil Ray. 

The new series follows the original single drama which first aired in 1999. 

Steve Coogan is playing the role of DCI Clive Driscoll who led the investigation into Stephen's murder. 

'Stephen' will portray events from 2006, thirteen years after Stephen’s death on the evening of April 22, 1993, in a racially motivated attack while he was waiting for a bus in Eltham, London.
9.11am - February 11

LOUGHTON: Town council weighs up pros and cons of forest car park charges

The pros and cons of car park charges being introduced in more than a dozen car parks in Epping Forest from the spring have been debated by Loughton town councillors.

Concern was expressed that the charges could see forest visitors parking in local roads instead of paying to use the car parks.

The City of London's Epping Forest and Commons Committee is to phase in a cashless charging system with 14 car parks "that currently experience the most parking issues" in the first tranche.

They include Pillow Mounds, Generals Ride and High Beach Visitor Centre with the Epping Forest committee saying this will tackle the over-capacity use of the area.

Loughton Town Council's resources and general services committee vice-chairman Jill Angold-Stephens told Wednesday's meeting: "I'm in a bit of a quandary.

"I can fully appreciate the (Epping Forest and Commons) committee wants to raise some money because of the fact they are in a bit of a financial situation and also they want to stop commuters parking in the car parks and would like people to walk and cycle.

"Those people who walk and cycle (to the forest) will continue to do so. Others will take their cars particularly those with little children."

He added: "I can see why they want to do it (charge). I'm concerned it will mean some people can't afford to park there and some people won't want to pay so will park nearby on the roads, on the pavements, in the forest, wherever they think they can.

"It could end up causing more damage to the forest than parking in the car park."

Councillor Stephen Murray said: "It's quite a balanced issue. If you asked members of the public the blunt statement 'do you want to pay to park' their response is going to be 'no'.

"There are equally quite strong arguments for introducing charges in the minority of the car parks.

"Epping Forest is a charity. It doesn't get any money from the council. It's a wonderful environment that we have on our doorstep, and we don't pay a penny.

"The arguments against charging are fairly obvious. In favour, it might reduce parking in some of the most ancient areas of woodland."

Councillor Stephen Pewsey said he was concerned parking charges would transfer the problem elsewhere with people parking in Loughton streets.

The City of London has said all the income, less the costs of maintaining the scheme, will be reinvested in the forest.

Payment will be by card or mobile phone with the charges reflecting the most common length of time visitors spend in the forest, at one to two hours. Parking for Blue Badge holders and motorbikes will be free.

The town council decided not to make a council response but encouraged councillors and residents to make individual responses to the City of London public consultation which ends on Monday (February 15).
4.05pm - February 10

ONGAR: Firefighters remember colleague

Ongar-based firefighters have held a two-minute silence in honour of firefighter Aston Everett, 54, who died last month after he suffered a brain aneurysm and collapsed while on duty for the Urban Search and Rescue station in Lexden.

Aston had been a firefighter at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service for 16 years serving at Chelmsford Fire Station, Clacton Fire Station, Dovercourt Fire Station and most recently with the Urban Search and Rescue station.

Aston was known for his high standards, principles and dedication.
3.32pm - February 10

EPPING: Lights go out at Civic Offices following refurbishment work

Lights at the Civic Offices in Epping - which have been on overnight during part of the ongoing refurbishment - will now be turned off 'out of hours' now that "testing and commissioning" has been completed.

Work is still taking place on the ground-floor lighting system but that should be completed by the end of the week.

Numerous comments have been posted on social media, and questions put to Everything Epping Forest, regarding why the lights have had to be left on at night.

A council spokesman told Everything Epping Forest: "The lighting system is now fully installed to all floors of the Civic Offices with testing and commissioning complete on the first and second floors. This means lights will switch off out of hours and will only switch on if motion sensors are triggered.

"Testing and commissioning to the ground floor controller is still ongoing but is expected to be fully functioning by Friday of this week at the very latest.”
12.32pm - February 10

EPPING: Weekly market to reopen on Monday

The Epping Market will re-open on Monday (February 15) with essential traders only. 

Government guidelines will be followed and visitors are asked to adhere to
social distancing. 

Epping Town Council expects to see stalls selling fruit and vegetables, bread, household goods, dried fruit and nuts, hardware, cheese, eggs, plants and oils and vinegars.
11.51am - February 9

HMRC airfield checkpoint to be closed this weekend

Police and parking patrols are being requested on roads around North Weald Airfield this weekend while the HMRC Inland Border Facility is closed for "essential works".

The site, which has been operational since January 1 to check the documentation of HGV drivers travelling to and from the EU, will be closed to all freight traffic between 6am on Saturday (February 13) until about 6am next Monday (February 15).

Epping Forest District Council has asked for extra patrols from North Essex Parking Partnership and roads policing officers to deter illegal parking by lorries in the area.
10.08am - February 9

DISTRICT: Clean Air Zone and road charging remains a possibility - unless other ways are found to improve air quality in forest

A Clean Air Zone and possible road charging scheme for some roads through Epping Forest remains a possibility - but could be avoided if Epping Forest District Council can find other ways to improve air quality in Epping Forest.

An extraordinary district council meeting was called by five non-majority group councillors to discuss the cabinet's adoption of an Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy.

Councillors, at the end of Monday's two-hour meeting, voted to form a cross-party portfolio holder advisory group that "could work with council officers to identify where further initiatives not currently in the strategy could be brought forward to advance air quality improvements with the objective of removing the need for a CAZ (Clean Air Zone)".

The group will also provide "democratic oversight" of the development of any CAZ before it goes through the formal decision-making processes and public consultation, if it is deemed a CAZ is still required.

The meeting heard arguments between protecting the forest from further pollution and the impact of new developments, for which planning permission has been in abeyance until the strategy is adopted.

Councillors were warned any delay in adopting the strategy could see the Government impose housing numbers for the district, increasing the number from 11,400 to about 21,000 new homes. 

Councillor Chris Pond said: "The future of one of the finest forests in the country and continent is at stake."

He said "parts of it are dying" as a result of "bad air caused by thousands of cars and gas boilers owned by people who live near the forest".He added the situation "will be made worse by Epping Forest District Council proposing thousands of new homes near the forest".

Mr Pond said: "The Epping Forest area is geographically large but the majority of development has been chosen to go into the southern part (of the district). Houses are built right up to the forest edge and new ones are proposed very near to the forest.

"It is already under stress and it will become under worse stress if Epping Forest District Council's plan to grant planning permission is allowed."

Mr Pond said a solution was not to introduce a CAZ but to delete ten of the sites allocated for housing in the emerging Local Plan - including the Epping South site earmarked for 950 dwellings "only the width of the M25 away from one of the most sensitive sites of the forest".

Epping Liberal Democrat councillor Jon Whitehouse said one result of introducing a Clean Air Zone would be to divert traffic onto residential roads. He said "very real problems" would be caused by a charging zone.

"Any charging scheme would divert traffic to roads in Epping and Theydon Bois with some traffic travelling further to avoid the charges."

He said the end of last year was the best time for an advisory group - as proposed in the late amendment - not now.

"Here we are trying to rush it through, first in December, then January."  

Cabinet member Nigel Bedford, with responsibility for planning, said there was no reason why the Interim Pollution Mitigation Strategy should not be adopted to allow planning permissions, which have been delayed, from going ahead.

He said no design work or charging fee level for a Clean Air Zone had been agreed, and hoped the need for a CAZ could be avoided through other mitigation measures to improve air quality.

He urged councillors to "come together to achieve this".

Mr Bedford said there were 150 planning applications that had not been released - impacting on new homes as well as tradespeople with a knock-on impact on local business.

Councillor Sheree Rackham said that not only were some people NIMBYs but some were 'Bananas' - people who want to "build absolutely nothing anywhere near anybody".

Loughton Residents Association councillor Michael Owen said the forest is "highly vulnerable" and asked how could the council allow the building of hundreds of homes next to a forest that is already under threat.

He said: "All sites of mass development near our beautiful forest must be removed."

Buckhurst Hill Green Party councillor Simon Heap asked: "What can we do now to protect the forest, it is in a bad state? We can move (new) building away (from the forest)."

Cabinet member Holly Whitbread said: "I have no doubt the majority of councillors passionately care about their local community."

She said she opposed a Clean Air Zone adding: "It's something I do not want and I want to avoid, and I hope to be one of the main voices to do everything we can to avoid this (a Clean Air Zone)."

She added: "Without a strategy (an Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy) we lose our voice and control."

North Weald Conservative councillor Jaymey McIvor said the strategy's opponents were looking to "cause as much uncertainty to Epping Forest's economy".

He added the Plan was "oven ready and full of opportunity for the people of Epping Forest".

He said the delay in planning permissions was impacting on "people and lives" adding: "Surely as councillors it is our duty to act in the best interest of residents."

Council leader Chris Whitbread warned councillors any delay in the Local Plan process could see a much higher number of new homes being imposed on the district by the Government.

"A CAZ is not yet set out. We have not set out how it would be designed, what vehicles would be included and any charging strategy".

And he added any CAZ would not be implemented until 2025 "if at all if I had it my way".

Loughton Residents Association councillor David Wixley voiced concern over any road charging, including the impact it would have on tradesmen who would have to pass on the charge to their customers. He said there was no indication on how much the charge would be.

He was also concerned about the prospect of people avoiding the charging zone and taking other routes and polluting other areas, particularly if the alternative routes took them past schools.
 
Councllor Bob Jennings called on the council to "stop and reconsider" so we can all go forward "as one council together".

A report to the meeting stated: "The council can only grant planning applications that comply with the Habitat Regulations. 

The Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy, as adopted, enables the council to properly approve any planning application that it can demonstrate will have no adverse effect on Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation. This means the council meets the requirements of the Habitat Regulations.

The council has worked hard to develop a strategy that meets the requirements of the Habitat Regulations and Natural England has advised that it considers the Interim Strategy would provide a sound basis for avoiding or mitigating the air quality impacts that result from plan led development. 

Natural England will only confirm that the Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy meets the requirements if it includes reference to a Clean Air Zone. It should be noted there is already a range of other mitigation measures in the strategy which are sufficient to mitigate the impacts of growth up to at least 2025.

"Adoption of this Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy allows for the immediate release of withheld planning decisions. 

"The specialist legal advice received by the council is that once the Interim Strategy has been adopted there is no legal reason why the council must wait for the examination of the emerging Local Plan before it can release withheld planning decisions.

"In the face of this specialist advice, a decision by the council to delay the release of planning decisions once the Interim Mitigation Strategy has been adopted places the council at significant risk of legal challenge by delayed applicants and runs the risk of significant awards of costs against the council.

Epping Forest District Council says it has to ensure all development, including housing and employment use, is "measured and sustainable" as well as "providing for commensurate improvements in infrastructure such as schools, hospital, public transport, and the environment in general".

It adds the heritage of Epping Forest needs to be protected however the forest habitats are already suffering from vehicle emissions and, even without any further development, the council needs to address the issue and make sure any development does not add to the concerns around the forest's future.

The council has worked with Natural England to prepare a series of actions to address air quality issues in the forest.

One action is a Clean Air Zone which may or may not be required subject to continued environmental measurement and the detailed work-up of all schemes on the list.

The council says that to make sure the Local Plan can be "found sound" it needs an Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy to allow measured development which will enable the council to be able to determine planning applications and support the emerging Local Plan.

If the council does not properly plan to meet its housing requirement then the Government Planning Inspector can find the Local Plan unsound. 

The Government has imposed deadlines for the adoption of the Local Plan and if the council does not meet these the Government can remove the council’s planning powers and decide itself where it wants development to take place.

The Local Plan details sites for 11,400 homes in the district. If the council has to stop the Local Plan process and start again, this target will increase to nearly 21,000 homes, the council says.

When the council submitted its draft Local Plan, Natural England raised concerns about the cumulative air quality impact on the forest of current and new development proposed within it. 

The Inspector said more information was needed to understand the issues. This "created a pause" which meant the council could not issue planning permission for new development that may adversely affect the forest.

This will remain the position until the council agrees a strategy that limits the increase in air pollution from any new development.

The council has worked with Natural England to develop an Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy that sets out how the council would mitigate the impact of new developments on the air quality in the forest in a way that did not make the current position worse.

The strategy sets out actions the council will take to facilitate housing, employment and other development to meet the identified needs of the district without causing an adverse impact on the forest. 

The council stresses that most of the housing sites in the emerging Local Plan are well away from the forest. 

The council adds that a Clean Air Zone, which could include road charging for certain roads through the forest, cannot be ruled out absolutely but says there are a number of reasons that may mean it would not be necessary. 

These include the Government's commitment to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol engine vehicles from 2030, and changing working patterns which would reduce vehicle journeys.

"Prior to any implementation there are many checks and balances which would need to be worked through... This would include a full consultation exercise with everyone affected," the council said.

Until the Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy is adopted, the council cannot issue planning permission for any new development that results in an increase in the amount of traffic using roads in Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation or in close proximity to the EFSAC. 
4.19pm - February 8

BUCKHURST HILL: Man remanded in custody over pub blaze

A 48-year-old man charged over Saturday's blaze at the Three Colts pub in Buckhurst Hill has been remanded in custody until next month.

Spiros Schulz, of Eleven Acre Rise, Loughton, appeared before Chelmsford magistrates today charged with arson with recklessness as to whether life was endangered, arson with intent to endanger life and breaching a restraining order.
3.48pm - February 8

Chance to nominate a Young Townsperson of the Year

Epping Town Council is seeking nominations for its new Young
Townsperson of the Year award.

Nominations can be made for a young person up to the age of 25, as long as they live or work in Epping and have made a real difference to the community life of the town. 
This could be because of the contribution they have made to a local club or organisation, work they have done for charity or for a long-standing commitment they have made to the interests of the town and its people.

Nominations should be submitted before April 1. 

Nominees will be asked to present their achievements to a group of councillors.

The winner will be chosen by the council and will receive their presented award from the Town Mayor.

Nomination forms are available by ringing Epping Town Council on 01992 579444 or by e-mailing info@eppingtowncouncil.gov.uk

Completed forms should be returned by email to info@eppingtowncouncil.gov.uk or sent to Epping Town Council, Epping Hall, St Johns Road, Epping, Essex, CM16 5JU.
UPDATE 5.59pm - February 7

Man charged over pub blaze

A 48-year-old man is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court tomorrow (Monday) having been charged this afternoon over last night's fire at the Three Colts pub in Buckhurst Hill.

Spiros Schulz, of Eleven Acre Rise, Loughton, charged with arson with recklessness as to whether life was endangered, arson with intent to endanger life and breaching a restraining order.


UPDATE 2.12pm - February 7

Police give update on arrested man

Police have told Everything Epping Forest the man arrested on suspicion of arson following last night's blaze at the Three Colts pub, Buckhurst Hill, is aged 48 and from Loughton.

He remains in custody.


UPDATE 9.33am - February 7

Publican vows to reopen fire-hit pub - "we will return, maybe just longer than we thought"

Three Colts publican Adam Brooks has vowed to return to business following last night's fire which is being treated as arson.

Five fire crews were called to the pub in Princes Road, Buckhurst Hill, at about 4.50pm.

A man was arrested in Loughton on suspicion of arson about an hour later.

Adam Brooks, writing on Twitter, said: "Everyone is safe, we will return, maybe just longer than we thought."

He also thanked the "brave" firefighters from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, London Fire Brigade, and also Essex Police for their efforts in dealing with the incident.

Adam added: "Everyone is safe my end, it is what it is. A resident above (the pub) was lucky to escape this and is terribly shaken and upset. My family is also shaken. Money can be replaced, lives can’t."

A full investigation into the cause of the fire is due to take place.

The man arrested over the blaze remained in police custody last night.


UPDATE 6.54pm - February 6

Man arrested on suspicion of arson

A man has been arrested on suspicion of arson about an hour after firefighters were alerted to a blaze at the Three Colts pub in Buckhurst Hill.

An Essex Police spokesman said emergency services were called to the pub at about 4.50pm today. It is not believed anyone has been been hurt.

The spokesman added that a man was arrested on suspicion of arson in Loughton shortly before 6pm. He is currently in custody.

Anyone who saw anything suspicious, has any CCTV or dash cam footage or any other information about the incident is asked to ring 101 quoting incident 858 of February 6 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


6.31pm - February 6

EXCLUSIVE: Former EastEnders star speaks of her shock at news of blaze at her "favourite local pub"

Former EastEnders star Danniella Westbrook has spoken of her shock at tonight's fire at the Buckhurst Hill pub she describes as her "favourite place in Essex".

Five fire crews remain on the scene.

Firefighters are on the scene of a fire at the Three Colts pub in Princes Road, Buckhurst Hill.

Video footage shared on social media shows flames inside the premises - behind a bay window to left of the building.

Danniella said: "I was both shocked and saddened when Everything Epping Forest contacted me with the pictures and news that my favorite local pub was on fire."

She added: "My heart goes out to Adam Brooks and his family who  have worked so hard
to make that pub the success it is and such a huge part of the Buckhurst Hill community. 

"I hope that the damage is minimal and that no one was hurt and that the Three Colts will be open again soon."

A woman, who did not want to be named, told Everything Epping Forest, there had been "black billowing smoke" before firefighters put the blaze out "very quickly".

Princes Road, a one-way street, is currently closed to traffic.
1.39pm - February 6

DISTRICT: Prepare for 'Storm Darcy'

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is warning people to be prepared for heavy snow and ice for the next few days. 

The warning comes after Met Office UK issued weather yellow and amber snow and ice warnings from 11pm tonight (Saturday) through to midday next Wednesday.

Storm Darcy, named by the Dutch Met Service KNMI, is also set to bring plummeting temperatures and strong winds.

Dan Bailey, Community Development and Safeguarding Team, said: “With the weather feeling exceptionally cold, people will probably be looking for ways to keep their home warm. 

“If you're using electric heaters make sure you turn them off when you leave a room, keep them away from anything flammable and don't cover them with anything.

“If you're using an open fire ideally you should have had it swept recently, but also make sure you use a fireguard, you don't stack it too high, keep anything flammable away from it and you let it burn down completely before you go to bed.”

During times like this, ECFRS’s priorities are continuing to respond to incidents and, wherever possible, supporting partners.

ECFRS takes steps to make sure it can maintain a consistent operational response, including using Ranger vehicles where needed, which are designed to overcome adverse conditions.

Despite Essex gritters working throughout the county, salt becomes ineffective in low temperatures and icy conditions so residents are being warned to stay at home if possible, and if they must go out, to follow important road safety advice. 

Mr Bailey added: "Weather conditions can play a part in the number of accidents on the road. Consider if your journey really necessary and in very bad conditions, please avoid driving completely. 

“If you do have to drive, please make sure your car is roadworthy – your tyre condition is good, lights are clean and working, your windscreen is clear and blades are working. Make sure the washer bottle is full with screen wash, and you have an ice scraper in your vehicle.

“Slow right down, and only travel at speeds at which you can stop within the distance you can see.” 

Current forecasts predict snow and ice easing from Wednesday, but with the ground already saturated, it is likely to leave areas of localised flooding in its wake.
1.19pm - February 6

BUCKHURST HILL: Parish council considers initial ideas for new community hall

Preliminary ideas for a new community hall on the site of Roding Valley Hall in Station Way, Buckhurst Hill, have been considered by Buckhurst Hill Parish Council.

Initial possibilities for a new two-storey building include a main hall, Parish Office, kitchen, communal hub / cafe and a library or quiet space on the ground floor.

The first-floor could accommodate additional office space and a main meeting room with a viewing area down into the main hall.

Thursday's parish council accommodation committee was told detailed sketches will now be prepared while consultants will develop a business case and funding proposals for the project.

The council will also consult with local organisations and residents when COVID-19 restrictions allow.

* Roof repairs to the Woollard Centre, Buckhurst Hill, are to be carried out shortly by the parish council. External lighting is also to be installed and the water boiler replaced.
12.41pm - February 6

EPPING: Author's daughter delighted at blue plaque idea

The daughter of the late author Jill Barklem, best known for her 'Brambly Hedge' series of books, has expressed her delight that a historic blue plaque has been suggested for her former Epping home.

Jill lived in Theydon Grove, and latterly in Church Hill, Epping.

A proposal has been put to Epping Town Council for a plaque to be put up at the boundary of the Church Hill property.

Jill's daughter, Lizzie, first became aware of the idea when she read Thursday's Everything Epping Forest article which stated that town councillors will consider the request on Thursday.

Lizzie told Everything Epping Forest: "It was lovely to see the little article in the news about the proposed blue plaque for my late mother, Jill Barklem. 

"She had an extraordinary talent and left an amazing legacy for others to enjoy and learn from.

"Together with my brother, Pete, we are so delighted that her contribution may be recognised and highlighted to others."
10.10am - February 6

EPPING: Special award to long-serving firefighter

Epping Fire Station Watch Manager Derek Whitbread received a Special Award at the service's awards presentation to recognise his 45 years service.
10.08am - February 6

LOUGHTON: HSBC branch to close

The HSBC bank branch in Loughton High Road is to close in August - one of 82 branches in the UK to shut between April and September.
8.38am - February 5

EPPING: Town war memorial - 100 years old

Epping Town Council, at its meeting on Tuesday, will decide whether to support a commemoration event to mark the 100th anniversary of the town's war memorial which was unveiled on May 8, 1921.

The town council has received the necessary permission to clean the memorial with the work scheduled for May/June.
5.48pm - February 4

ONGAR: Man arrested after High Street pursuit

A man remains in police custody after he was arrested at the end of a police pursuit through Ongar High Street this morning.

The pursuit began after a man driving a silver-coloured Seat car failed to stop for police officers in the High Street. It ended in Longfields.

A local resident told Everything Epping Forest the driver was seen to run off when the vehicle stopped across the junction with Cloverley Road.

The suspect was seen to run back along Longfields towards Coopers Hill and then into Cripsey Brook before he was arrested "wet and muddy" near Ongar Bridge.

The Seat car was seen to have two tyres down to the rims.

A police spokesman told Everything Epping Forest: "A man failed to stop for officers along High Street, Ongar, at about 9am today (Thursday).

"Following a brief pursuit, the suspect decamped the vehicle but was shortly arrested by officers on suspicion of failing to stop, dangerous driving and theft of a motor vehicle. He remains in custody."
5.18pm - February 4

EPPING: Town council to consider blue plaque request for author

Epping Town Council has received a request for a historic blue plaque to be put up at the former Epping home of author Jill Barklem.

The children's author, well known for her 'Brambly Hedge' books, lived in Theydon Grove and latterly on Church Hill.

The idea is for a plaque to be placed on the boundary of the Church Hill property.
5.04pm - February 4

DISTRICT: Could virtual council meetings be coming to an end?

Local councils will return to "physical meetings" for council business after May 7 - unless the Government extends legislation which allows for virtual meetings to continue.

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has told local authorities "the government is not currently planning to extend the remote meeting regulations beyond May 7".

NALC and other local government bodies are continuing to press for an extension. 

Meanwhile, the NALC is "preparing guidance for local councils on preparing for and managing the return to physical meetings in May and beyond”.
1.12pm - February 3

WALTHAM ABBEY: Police appeal for collision witnesses

Police are appealing for information following a collision involving a black Ford Fiesta and a blue Volkswagen Polo at the Sewardstone Road-Avey Lane junction near Waltham Abbey.

A woman was taken to hospital with what were believed to be minor injuries following the collision which happened at 2.35pm on Thursday, January 28.

Anyone who saw what happened or has dash cam footage is asked to contact Chigwell Roads Policing Unit quoting incident 679 of January 28.

Information can also be reported online at https://www.essex.police.uk or via the 'Live Chat' button to speak to an online operator between 7am and 11pm. Alternatively, you can ring 101.
12.51pm - February 3

NORTH WEALD: Parish council seeking premises for High Road office

North Weald Bassett Parish Council is looking for suitable premises in High Road, North Weald, which could be used as a parish council office.
2.48pm - February 2

NORTH WEALD: Parish council considering providing each councillor with a council-owned tablet or laptop

North Weald Bassett Parish Council is considering providing each councillor with a laptop or tablet to ensure that the council meets data protection legislation.

Principal financial officer Adriana Jones told Monday's parish council meeting the matter was a way of protecting councillors and the council, and members of the public, with regard to data protection and the issue of managing council-related business on a personal computer.

No decision was taken on the proposal for councillors to decide between two options which would enable each councillor to have a device that they can use solely for parish council-related business.

Both proposals would see an additional monthly charge in relation to necessary subscriptions.

Councillor Sheila Jackman questioned the cost, and asked why laptops - which she said were easier to type on than a tablet - were not being proposed.

She told the meeting: "North Weald is a parish council and does not warrant such expenditure. No other town or parish council has gone down this path."

She added she felt parishioners would be "angered" if such expenditure was approved "and, I feel, justifiably so".

Mrs Jones said there were numerous councils across the country which were now using such a system.

Parish clerk Sue deLuca said there would be an option for councillors to opt for a laptop instead.

Councillor Terry Blanks said: "It does seem quite a lot of money. Some people might think it could be better spent."

Several councillors spoke in favour of the proposal stating that they did not want to have parish council correspondence on their personal computers.

* Councillors voted 12-0, with one abstention, that all members should be allocated a parish council email address.
1.15pm - February 2

DISTRICT: Housing rents and district council share of council tax set to rise

A £5 per household increase in the district council's share of council tax bills for the next financial year is a possibility in the council's 2021-22 budget.

The figure - thought to refer to band D equivalent households - was referred to in a council committee meeting when councillors were told such a rise would generate £270,000 for the council in the next financial year. 

Council cabinet papers also refer to a proposed 3 per cent increase in trade waste charges - and a freeze in car parking charges.

Housing rents are facing a 1.5 per cent increase which complies with the legal Rent Standard that registered providers of social housing must comply with, the report states.
9.12am - February 2

NAZEING: Mass COVID-19 testing follows confirmation of South African variant

Residents living on the Nazeing-Broxbourne border are being urged to get a COVID-19 test, whether they have symptoms or not, following confirmation that a case of the South African variant has been confirmed in the local area.

All adult residents in the EN10 area of Broxbourne - which includes Old Nazeing Road, Nazeing New Road -  are being encouraged to get a COVID-19 test over the next two weeks.

Testing is being increased in the area to find any other cases and help to suppress this new variant from spreading any further in the local community.

From today, residents aged over 18 who live in the EN10 postcode area will be provided with a leaflet through their letterboxes to explain how they can get tested.

Extra mobile testing capacity has been set up at Broxbourne Lido site and Paradise Wildlife Park (in EN10, Broxbourne) while home testing kits will be available to pick up from Wormley Community Centre and Hoddesdon Library.

From Thursday (February 4) all households will be directly contacted on their doorstep and will be provided with a home testing kit from a public health or licensed officer (with hi-visibility uniform or valid ID). 

Jim McManus, Director of Public Health at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “It is vitally important that we test as many adults as we can in this local area, whether showing symptoms or not. This is an important step in containing this new South African variant of COVID-19 from spreading further in our local communities.

“Although this new variant of COVID-19 is thought to be more easily transmitted, there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe illness, or that the regulated vaccine would not protect against it.”

Broxbourne Council leader Lewis Cocking,said: “Testing plays an important role in stopping the spread of the virus. Testing, even when you do not have symptoms, helps identify people with the virus so that they can isolate and avoid spreading it to others in the community. 

“I don’t want people to be alarmed at this new development. It is an isolated case but I am urging all members of the public that live in the EN10 postcode area, who are not showing symptoms, to either book an appointment online or use a home testing kit.”

For more details go to www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/en10
8.11pm - February 1

NORTH WEALD: Church car park "trashed" by HGVs using airfield Brexit checkpoint

Issues regarding HGV parking have arisen since the HMRC Inland Border Facility opened on North Weald Airfield on January 1, North Weald Bassett Parish Council has said.

Monday's parish council meeting heard that council chairman Alan Buckley and clerk Sue DeLuca would be meeting with Epping Forest District Council to discuss issues relating to parking and signage which had arisen since the facility had opened.

The parish council is to ask for fortnightly rather than monthly meetings with the district council over the checkpoint after being advised by residents that severe damage had been caused to the church car park opposite St Andrew's Church.


Councillor Buckley said the car park had been "completely trashed" with 10ins to 12ins ruts left in the surface.
6.16pm - February 1

EPPING: Epping Weather Station shows influence of Global Warming in 2020

Epping’s own automatic weather station, run by Epping Town Council, has completed its first year of operation, and already is showing that global warming is affecting Epping.

As there was a weather station in Epping from 1979 until 2013, there is now 35 years of data for comparison, and 2020 emerges as the warmest yet, with a mean annual temperature of 11.5°C, approximately 1.1°C above the average.

A number of new records were registered through last year. 

January and May were the warmest of those months in our records. 
2020 saw the third warmest April and November, the fourth warmest February and June, the our hottest July day (36.0°C) and hottest September day (31.2°C).

Last year also saw the wettest October on record, and probably the wettest August, except that the storms on the afternoon of August 16 flooded the Stonards Hill base and knocked out the power supply so data was missed for three very wet days. 

It was the sixth wettest year overall, despite a very dry April and May.

Epping Weather Station's data is streamed live to the website’s front page at www.eppingweather.org.uk, so if you want to know the current temperature, wind, rain, air pressure and more, it is just a click away on your computer or smartphone. 

There is also the past seven days, month-to-date and last month data
online. 

The full analysis of 2020’s weather is available on the website where we  monthly reviews of weather data are published as ‘weather news’.

All data can be provided to anyone who needs it; schools are particularly welcome to use the data and to help write monthly weather summaries or provide photographs. Contact us through the website.
5.37pm - February 1

DISTRICT: Cost of Civic Offices refurbishment now over £7.5m

The cost of refurbishing the Civic Offices in Epping to create a community hub with rentable office space for local businesses, a public cafe and a possible new home for Epping Library - is now put at over £7.5m, an overspend of some £273,000.

Latest costings are detailed in district council cabinet papers which describe the work as "the largest General Fund project in 2020-21".

The "core project budget" figure is reported as £7.242m, excluding IT costs. 

The report adds: "As at December 31, 2020, just over 60 per cent of the allocated budget had been spent, and the new facility is expected to be available for occupation in March 2021 (subject to Covid-19 restrictions)."

The document adds: "The core budget consists of contracted works, which are currently expected to underspend, and additional costs for furniture and equipment.

"The overall forecast out-turn at this stage is £7.515m, which would result in a small overspend of £273,000; this is attributable to consultancy and contractor costs required to deliver the project, which could not be provided by in-house staff, and was not included in the original business case.

"There is an additional budget allocation of £0.907m for IT costs, which form a major part of the fit-out stage of the project. 

"A marginal underspend of £7,000 is currently forecast on IT costs."
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