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6.24pm - July 30

DISTRICT: Councillor highlights low take-up of COVID-19 jab among younger adults

The low take-up of the COVID-19 vaccination among younger adults has been highlighted by North Weald district councillor Jaymey McIvor.

Speaking at Thursday's full district council meeting, councillor McIvor asked community and regulatory services cabinet member Aniket Patel what the district council was doing to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Councillor McIvor said: "With the UK's vaccination programme proving to be such a huge success across our district and our county and the country, does the portfolio holder agree with my concerns, and indeed the concerns of national government, at the lack of take-up of the vaccination with the under-30s in particular?

"This may be due to large amounts of incorrect and inaccurate information that is shared online particularly among my age group which sadly people seem to put before their own safety and the safety of others.

"I would be interested to know what steps this council will be taking to encourage all adult age groups but in particular the under-30s to get vaccinated so we can very quickly go from pandemic to endemic."

Councillor Patel said it was always thought it would be difficult to get the younger members of the population vaccinated and he highlighted the myths being circulated about the vaccinations.

He added there was "myth-busting" content online, including on the district council's website, and he suggested a promotional video featuring some of the younger councillors who have been vaccinated.

Councillor Patel added that various publicity had been circulated to councillors to help spread the word.

He said: "We, as councillors, have a role in circulating this information. We were also given posters which we could display on noticeboards around our towns and parishes.

"The key to this is working together. I don't think there's one person responsible. It's a collective 'we'."
5.07pm - July 30

WALTHAM ABBEY: Fire station becomes a fully 'on-call' station

Waltham Abbey Fire Station has moved to a fully on-call fire station, with firefighters responding from home or work seven days a week.

The station had seen firefighters respond from home during evenings and weekends but has now become an on-call station meaning firefighters will respond from home or work at all times. 

A number of whole-time firefighters will also support the transition while some of the station's newer on-call firefighters continue their training. 

Station Manager Dave Bond said: “We’ve seen some really successful recruitment campaigns recently which have resulted in more on-call firefighters joining our station. 

"We now have 17 in our team with one more firefighter due to join later in the year.

“This success wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our local community - they are the ones who have stepped forward to apply to become on-call firefighters and play a part in protecting the local area.

“The additional support from our existing colleagues will also ensure we will maintain the same level of protection for the Waltham Abbey area.

“We’re still encouraging people to join us, so if you or anyone you know is interested please visit our website for more information.”

About 75 per cent of fire stations in Essex are crewed by on-call firefighters - people who live or work within five minutes of the fire station. 

They respond when called to an incident and are paid for the time they give.

For more about becoming an on-call firefighter visit www.join.essex-fire.gov.uk/on-call/
2.26pm - July 30

DISTRICT: Council to get "significant income" from Civic Offices space lease

The second floor of the Civic Offices in Epping has been leased out by Epping Forest District Council - a move which will generate "significant income" to the council.

Finance, Qualis Client and economic development cabinet member John Philip reported the agreement to Thursday's council meeting.

He said: "We made the decision to lease out the second floor of this building to a franchisee for Regus ​(Seed Space 1 Limited for a serviced office and trading as a franchise of Regus) over a ten-year lease, a very good deal for us covering both rental and service charges - significant income coming into the council. It's really good news."

He added: "The second floor of this building was never intended to be a money-making exercise when we started it but because of the increased flexibility in working we have now been able to make a significant contribution towards our accounts from that."
1.59pm - July 30

LOUGHTON: District council leader urged to 'help save our library'

A Loughton councillor has called on Epping Forest District Council leader and county councillor Chris Whitbread to 'help save Loughton Library' as consultation over the redevelopment of the Traps Hill site continues.

The proposals include a smaller library with space for community partners, meeting rooms, events and an outdoor learning and activity space as well as up to 38 apartments for sale, the income from which will allow the county council to provide the new library at net zero cost to Essex residents.  

In a question to district council leader Chris Whitbread, who is also an Essex County Council cabinet member, Loughton Independent councillor Stephen Murray asked: "Can he help us? Can he help the people of Loughton save their library?"

Speaking at Thursday's full district council meeting, Mr Murray added: "He is a leading member of Essex County Council, we want our library kept and invested in in the way it is. We do not want a much smaller community space under-resourced library financed by 48 flats.

"My question to the leader of council tonight, on behalf of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people in Loughton, is can you help us save our library?

"We want our library kept and invested in. We don't want a much smaller community space financed by flats."

Mr Whitbread replied: "Obviously the Loughton Library is an issue that is currently under consultation. I don't think it would be right or proper for me to state either way what I think about that consultation.

"What I would say is the best way to save the library is to invest in the library and that's what this achieves. You need modern buildings and you need modern libraries.

"This (the plan) is no surprise. Loughton Library is part of the Local Plan. It's a Local Plan site and I think members have to be very careful when they object to planning applications for sites that are within the Local Plan as actually they weaken their own position.

"The Loughton Library site is part of a consultation and I would recommend that members of the public respond to that consultation, but I wouldn't comment further."

The public consultation runs until midnight on Sunday (August 1).

For further information on the proposals and details of the consultation events visit www.loughtonlibrary.co.uk
1.44pm - July 30

DISTRICT: District council wards to be reviewed ahead of 'all seats' election in 2024

A review of Epping Forest District Council ward boundaries is to be carried out, resulting in all councillors to be up for election in May 2024.

Council leader Chris Whitbread said the council had been contacted by the Boundary Commission to say the authority is "overdue" a review which will include the size of council wards.

Mr Whitbread said the review would commence "very, very shortly" - along with similar reviews of five other Essex districts - and result in an "all out election" in May 2024. 
3.19pm - July 29

LOUGHTON: Man suffers head injury in assault

Police are appealing for information after a man reported that he was assaulted as he stood at the front of the Cottage Loaf pub, near Jessel Green, Debden.

The 35-year-old victim sustained a head injury when he was punched to the face at about 11pm on Sunday, July 11. 

Police say the suspect left the scene soon after.

Details of the incident have only been released by police today.

He is described as white, about 5ft 7ins tall and aged in his mid-20s. He had dark blond curtain-style hair with piercing light blue eyes.

Anyone who was at the Cottage Loaf pub that evening and saw the incident or has information that might help officers is asked to ring 101 and ask for PC 1397 Arnold at Loughton Police Station.

Information can also be given via www.essex.police.uk quoting crime reference 42/136401/21, or by ringing Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
2.07pm - July 29

EPPING: High Sheriff of Essex praises work of Epping Forest Re-Use Centre

PICTURES

The High Sheriff of Essex has praised the work of the Epping Forest Re-Use Centre which offers donated furniture, electrical appliances and household items for sale at affordable prices.

Simon Brice, accompanied by his wife, Emma, visited the centre, off Bower Hill in Epping, this morning.

He met chairman Janet Whitehouse and trustees and was given a tour of the facilities, including the showroom which is open to the public.

Mr Brice told Everything Epping Forest: "They've got so many things, everything from kitchen tables to kitchen utensils - they can kit you out completely and when you look at the people who are coming here who may have nothing, they can come in here and they can kit out a flat with a bed, sofa, furniture at a good price and at discounted prices as well - and they are affordable to them - I think they're doing a very good job."

The main aim of the charity is to provide low-cost donated furniture, electrical and household items for the local community. 

New items such as beds, mattresses, cookers, fridges and washing machines are also available.

Goods are available at a discount for people on income-related benefits with some provided free to people in exceptional need who are referred to the charity by agencies.

Throughout the recent lock-down staff continued to deliver furniture and household appliances to people in need as the charity was designated an essential service.

The number of people in need referred to Epping Forest Re-Use by the Essex Essential Living Fund has vastly increased since the first lockdown in March 2020 (72 in March-May 2021).

These people have experienced domestic violence, been homeless or had other life crises. 

You can help people in need in Epping Forest and the surrounding area by supporting Epping Forest Re-Use by buying, donating goods and money and giving your time and skills as a volunteer or trustee.

Contact Esther (manager) on 01992 578222 or email esther@eppingreuse.org.uk for volunteering opportunities, or Janet Whitehouse - email janet@eppingreuse.org.uk - for information about becoming a trustee.

More information about Epping Forest Re-Use can be found at www.eppingreuse.org.uk or email info@eppingreuse.org.uk.

* During his visit, the High Sheriff handed over a certificate to chairman Janet Whitehouse which will be presented to volunteer Rob Thompson.

The High Sheriff's Award recognises Rob's "commitment to Epping Forest Re-Use since 2013 as a volunteer and trustee supporting and helping the charity in a varietry of roles".
6.54pm - July 27

EPPING: Council criticises Kendal Avenue parking meters as "money-making move"

A move to introduce parking meters and parking bays in Kendal Avenue, Epping, is a "money making move" and could be the "thin end of the wedge" for on-street parking charges around the town, town councillors have said.

The measures are due to be introduced by Essex County Council on September 6  but Epping Town Council has not been consulted and wants the measures put on hold until its full council has considered the scheme.

Councillor Hugh Pegrum told Tuesday's planning and environment committee: "I'm not quite sure there's a problem there to be cured.

"We've not had parking bays in Kendal Avenue before which is what is being proposed. I wonder the point of all of that."

Committee chairman Nigel Avey told the meeting such schemes are only put forward by the county council if they are "residents' driven".

Councillor Barbara Scruton said: "I can't see any reason for putting parking meters in a residential area like Kendal Avenue.

"It's just a money-making move. It will just push the cars into Hartland Road and other areas."

She added: "I (as a resident of Kendal Avenue) haven't had any issue or heard anthing about it.

"It may be driven by a few residents... why have parking meters? It just doesn't make sense. It (Epping) will just become another commuter town."

Councillor Pegrum feared the introduction of on-street parking charges will be "the thin end of the wedge".

He added: "It (if we allow it) will be everywhere."

Councillor Barbara Scruton said: "We should be consulted on it. Decisions are being made without consulting with Epping Town Council. We might as well not exist."

Parking measures are also planned for Bury Lane, Coronation Hill, Fluxs Lane and Garnon Mead, the meeting was told.
8.16am - July 27

DISTRICT: Council warns refuse and recycling collections could be reduced

Refuse and recycling collections could be reduced because of a shortage of drivers and the number of collection staff being 'pinged' because of the COVID-19 pandemic, councillors have been told.

While collections are continuing as normal for the time being, it is possible that collections could have to be cut back from mid-August, the council's cabinet has been told.

Environmental and technical services cabinet member Nigel Avey told Monday's meeting: "Biffa at the moment are looking at driver shortages caused by general lack of drivers and also by the 'pingdemic' that we have at the moment. 

"They are managing to cope with the situation however I would think by the middle of August it may get worse in which case we may be faced with a decision about reducing services. 

"Obviously if we come to that I will come back and report accordingly but they are doing a good job of coping with the shortage of drivers that they have at the moment.

"I think in other areas such as Harlow they have already reduced services because of that same issue."

Council leader Chris Whitbread said: "Biffa in the first part of the pandemic did a brilliant job of keeping everything running while others were failing so I think we should bare that in mind.

Loughton Independent councillor Stephen Murray described the announcement as "a bit of shock" and asked that all councillors be kept informed of the situation.

He said: "It's a frontline service, absolutely the key frontline service... and our phones and our emails will be ringing like mad if it doesn't operate in the way it should."
6.47pm - July 26

DISTRICT: Third deal takes Qualis's property purchases to over £30m

Qualis Living - one of the Qualis Group companies wholly owned by Epping Forest District Council - has confirmed its third property acquisition, the £9m purchase of office space in Coventry.

It takes spending on the Qualis investment portfolio to over £30m in eight months.

Greenfields House on Westwood Business Park in Coventry has been let as the head office for the Camping and Caravanning Club since 2006.  

It was purchased by Qualis Living for £9m at a net initial yield of 7.23 per cent and increases the portfolio value to in excess of £30m, Qualis Living said.

It follows the purchase - already reported by Everything Epping Forest - of an office building in Leatherhead, Surrey, and a retail warehouse occupied by DIY chain Wickes in Maldon, Essex.

A Qualis Living statement states: "As an intrinsic part of its Four-Year Business Plan, Qualis Living’s strategy is to build a high performing portfolio of investment properties across a mix of locations and asset classes. This will provide secure positive yields and allow reinvestment of funds to both Epping Forest District Council and Qualis Group as the company grows."

Group Operations Director Paul Hewitt said: "We are delighted to have recently completed the purchase Greenfields House, a well located office building let to a great tenant. 

"As with our last two acquisitions, we were diligent in our approach and kept to our criteria. 

"The investment portfolio provides surplus income that improves the financial strength of the Group and supports our regeneration and community activities within Epping Forest district."

Last December Everything Epping Forest reported that Qualis had spent almost £20m on a "trendy" office building in Surrey and a building rented to DIY chain Wickes in Maldon, Essex.

The Birchwood Building in Leatherhead has been described as a newly refurbished multi-let 34,939sq.ft office building with 154 car parking spaces next to the international headquarters of Unilever.

The property was fully-let to two multi-national tenants - Zoetis UK and Hyundai Motor UK - generating income to Qualis of £916,389.75 per annum, the report stated.

The other earlier acquisition was a purpose build stand-alone 28,199sq.ft retail warehouse occupied by DIY chain Wickes - and 149 parking spaces - in Maldon, Essex, which is generating £457,000 a year in gross income for Qualis, the report said.
9.15am - July 26

ONGAR: Eighteen stalls for first Farmers' Market and Craft Market

Eighteen stalls are set to be in the Pleasance car park - next to Ongar Library - on Sunday (10am until 2pm) for the first Ongar Town Forum Farmers' Market and Craft Market.

Among the items on sale will be cheese, seafood, prepared foods and other fish, homemade artisan gin, vodka, run and whisky liqueurs, gifts - glassware, dog bowls, baby items - eco-friendly and plastic-free goods, fresh cut microgreens, dried herbs and teas.

There will also be an ice cream van and old-fashioned sweet stall.

The Chingford Morris Men will be performing around the town during the market.

Anyone wanting to travel to the market by train can make use of a special ticket being offered by Epping Ongar Railway.

Passengers will need to buy a special single 'Railway Rambler' ticket that will provide a heritage bus ride from Epping to North Weald to connect with a train service to Ongar.

For the return journey, passengers must present their 'Railway Rambler' ticket at the Ongar Station booking office and ask for a 'Market Saver' for £3.

The Railway Rambler ticket is only valid on the 9.45am heritage bus service from Epping Station and the 10.10am diesel train service from North Weald.

The 'Market Saver' Return is only available after 2pm to holders of Railway Rambler tickets on market days in Ongar and can only be obtained at Ongar Station booking office on presentation of a Railway Rambler ticket for that day.
8.25pm - July 25

STAPLEFORD ABBOTTS: Church holds flower festival

Ongar & Rural county councillor Jaymey McIvor has congratulated everyone involved in the two-day flower festival at St Mary's Church, Stapleford Abbotts.

The Festival of Flowers and More featured an impressive display of flower arrangements as well as a plant sale, games, quizzes and refreshments.

Councillor McIvor, whose county council division includes Stapleford Abbotts, said: "It was great to see our rural communities like Stapleford Abbotts bouncing back from the pandemic and starting to get back to some normality. 

"The rain didn’t stop the local community from turning out to support the great event. I even met people who drove from more than an hour away to attend the event.

"Congratulations to everyone involved with the festival and for bringing people together.”
6.01pm - July 23

EPPING: Changes to Bakers Lane pay-and-display car park charges

Pay-and-display parking charges at the Bakers Lane car park in Epping are to change, with the 'over five hours' charge to go up £4 to £10.

The 'up to one hour free' parking on Saturdays will be scrapped with the current Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm charges in force on Saturdays too.

The change is to make the tariffs for the two Epping pay-and-display the same ahead of the closure of the Cottis Lane car park which is set to be developed with a multi-storey car park, cinema and retail space.

Planning permission is yet to be granted for the scheme, or for the new leisure centre on the Bakers Lane car park and 186 homes on the St John's Road site.

A district council spokesman told Everything Epping Forest: "The changes to the tariff at Bakers Lane (currently the long-stay car park) is essentially applying the current tariff at the Cottis Lane car park to Bakers Lane car park which will be implemented once the redevelopment of Cottis Lane car park commences.

"The changes to the tariff will only apply to Bakers Lane car park and not to any of the other Epping Forest District Council pay and display car parks."

The spokesman added: "One of the reasons the tariff is being changed, is to prevent the Bakers Lane car park being filled will commuters and not having any spaces for local businesses and shoppers, as it is only £6 per day to currently park there whereas Cottis Lane is £10.

"At the moment we do not have a start date for the works at the Cottis Lane car park. Once we do, we will give advance notice to highlight the changes to the tariffs at Bakers Lane."

The 'over five hours charge' (up until 6pm) will increase from £6, to £10 a day.
5.39pm - July 23

NORTH WEALD: Planning consent sought for second taxi storage site

A second site in the North Weald area is being used to store London taxis which are not required because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 200 taxis have been stored at Weald Place Farm, off Duck Lane, Thornwood - without planning permission.

Now it has been revealed that a similar number are parked at Chase Farm, off Vicarage Lane, North Weald, again without planning approval from Epping Forest District Council.

GB Taxi Services - the company involved with both locations - is applying for temporary 12-month planning permission (from July 2021 until July 2022) to store its London taxis at Chase Farm.

A document submitted with the planning application states: "Weald Place Farm provided GB Taxi services with the lifeline that they were in desperate need of, and taxis were moved onto this site for storage from April 2020. 

"While the taxis were at this site a number were vandalised and parts were also stolen. GB Taxis also had 76 catalytic converters stolen from vehicles at this previous site and which will cost the company thousands to repair. 

"Due to this, GB Taxis began looking for an alternative, more secure, site to temporarily store the taxis and Chase Farm appeared to be an appropriate location, set within the confines of the farm and surrounded by existing screening from both buildings and vegetation together with close boarded fencing and gates."

The company says a "large number" of taxis were moved from Weald Place Farm to Chase Farm from April "over a number of weeks". 

The document adds: "Once the drivable taxis were moved, the remaining taxis at Weald Place Farm which had been vandalised then required repair work to be carried out before they could be moved to ensure the vehicles were road-worthy.
Therefore, moving these remaining taxis has taken longer.

"At the current time, there are 30 taxis left on Weald Place Farm which will all be removed from the site. A number of these will be going for scrap and will not be moved onto Chase Farm.

"Once the UK economy picks up and drivers come back to London, the taxis will be removed gradually from the site however logistically this could not be an overnight removal as it is expected that drivers will come back to work at a gradual pace, which is why the applicant is applying for a temporary permission for one year to allow time for this process to happen.

"The storage at Chase Farm is by no means a permanent solution and GB Taxi Services want nothing more than for the London taxis to be rented and back with the taxi drivers and for their business to return to normal, functioning in the way it always did before."

The company states the only noise from the site will be "occasional noise which could result from a taxi driven off the site to be returned to a driver and therefore removed from the storage site". 

It adds: "Given the separation distance from the neighbouring properties and the application site, this very occasional movement is not considered to be significant enough to cause a detrimental impact upon the amenity of these neighbouring occupiers."

The application will be considered by North Weald Bassett Parish Council before a decision is taken by Epping Forest District Council.

The parish council lodged a "strong" objection to the proposal to use Green Belt land at Weald Place Farm for the storage of 200-plus taxis for a year when councillors considered the application in April.

However councillors were told that the vehicles had already been parked at the site for a year.

The company had been seeking permission, for one year from Spring 2021 to Spring 2022, to store the vehicles on the land.

Councillor Terry Blanks, told the April meeting, said: "This is a totally inappropriate use of a farm." 

Councillor Anne Grigg said it was "simply inappropriate development in the Green Belt".

Everything Epping Forest understands that no decision has yet been taken by Epping Forest District Council over the Weald Place Farm application.
4.13pm - July 22

DISTRICT: MP delighted at 'no change' to local Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System

An NHS England decision to maintain the existing boundaries for the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System has been welcomed by Epping Forest MP Dame Eleanor Laing.

Hertfordshire and West Essex ICS was one of 18 such organisations formed in May last year.

The ICS has the over-arching responsibility for ensuring the Hertfordshire and West Essex population gets the most from a £3.2bn combined health and care budget.

With a 56,000-strong workforce, the ICS provides clinical and professional leadership and ensures organisations pull in the same direction to help everyone - residents, service users, patients and staff - achieve their potential.

The ICS is responsible for setting the strategy and goals for improving health and care in the area and overseeing the quality and safety, decision making, governance and financial management of services.  

The decision to maintain the existing boundary for Hertfordshire and West Essex ICS was announced today after a review across the country with some ICS boundaries altered to be more aligned with top-tier local authority areas.

Minister of State for Health Edward Argar said it had been decided to exempt the East of England region from the "principle of coterminosity".

Dame Eleanor said "I am delighted that the Minister has listened to the points that my colleagues and I raised in the House of Commons and that there will be no changes made to the Hertfordshire and West Essex ICS which is already working hard for the people of Epping Forest, most recently on the amazing COVID-19 vaccination rollout."

Dame Eleanor added: "I have heard nothing but praise for the smooth running of the COVID-19 vaccination centre at The Murray Hall in Loughton and I can only echo these comments as I received both my vaccinations at the centre.

"The success of this is down to the ICS, and my thanks go to the ICS as well as the local partner organisations including Loughton Town Council, New City College, and the numerous vaccinators and volunteers who have all come together so well."
3.48pm - July 21

NORTH WEALD: Parish council complains about state of grass cutting around the parish

The "atrocious" state of grass cutting on public areas in and around North Weald Parish is to be taken up by the parish council.

North Weald Bassett Parish Council is to raise the issue with Epping Forest District Council cabinet members councillors Nigel Avey and Sam Kane after councillors highlighted the standard of grass cutting in the area.

Parish council chairman councillor Alan Buckley, speaking at Monday's environmental committee, described the quality of grass cutting as "atrocious" adding: "It's appalling."

Numerous locations were identified with councillor Baden Clegg highlighting the junction of Upland Road with the B1393 where he said drivers' views were restricted by the overgrown verges.

Councillor Shirley Hawkins said: "They don't pick any grass up. It's just left laying there."
2.37pm - July 21

Council decision to no longer give out recycling sacks from Civic Offices a "retrograde step"

The decision taken by Epping Forest District Council to no longer give out clear recycling sacks from the new-look Civic Offices has been described as a "retrograde step".

Councillor Jon Whitehouse highlighted the matter during a debate over the refurbished offices which reopened to the public on Monday - but from where recycling sacks can no longer be collected.

Councillor Whitehouse asked Tuesday's Stronger Council Select Committee: "What's the logic behind no longer distributing recycling sacks from the Civic Offices.

"There was a message (council news release) which went out last week saying the improved Civic Offices are opening but you will no longer be able to get your rubbish sacks from it.

"I fail to see how that's an improvement. It's one of the basic services - waste collection, recycling - that the council provides.

"If we're looking for increased footfall (through the Civic Offices) why withdraw the service? How is that an improvement? It seems to me to be a retrograde step, and what's the logic behind that decision?"

Strategic director Andrew Small said: "It's my understanding the number of centres or locations where you can collect sacks from has increased and so we didn't need the Civic Offices as a location. 

"There's plenty of provision around the rest of the district as it is."

Councillor Whitehouse replied: "I would have thought the more provision the better, as long as people are only taking one (roll) at a time. 

"It's a convenient location. There's House2Home down this end of town. It just seems to me a basic service and it seems odd you can get it (the clear sacks) everywhere apart from the organisation that provides the service."

Committee chairman Peter Bolton replied: "Point taken."
2.35pm - July 21

Senior council officers unable to shed light over council "hostel reprovision" project

Senior district council officers have been unable to shed any light on the inclusion of a project for the "re-provision" of a hostel in the district.

Two senior officers who attended the Stronger Council Select Committee were asked about the project, but neither could say which 'hostel' was being referred to in a report updating councillors on 'key strategic projects'.

The 'reprovision of hostel' is one of several 'amber' items - council projects "at risk of missing milestones".

Councillor Jon Whitehouse asked Tuesday's meeting: "Which hostel are we talking about? Are we talking about Norway House or Hemnall House or somewhere else?"

But neither service director Maryvonne Hassell, who presented the document to the committee, or strategic director Andrew Small could answer the question.

Maryvonne Hassall told the meeting: "I don't know the answer to that. Does anybody else know the answer to that?"

Committee chairman Peter Bolton said: "I don't know..."

Strategic director Andrew Small told the meeting: "I haven't got a definitive answer. 

"I think it's one of those we will have to take back again. I had in my mind it was provision of a new hostel but I don't want to give you an answer here and now because I don't necessarily think it will be a correct answer. So I will take that one away and come back to you (councillor Whitehouse) with a written response."

Councillor Steven Neville said: "If we are going to say 're-provision of hostel' we don't want such generic titles because it doesn't tell us anything. And how can we scrutinise anything if it don't know what we are talking about?"

The document states the project is "currently in concept with proposed documentation being completed for governance group discussion and agreement in September 2021."
6.40pm - July 19

LOUGHTON: Two former Davenant Foundation School students in Team GB at Olympics

Two former Davenant Foundation School students will be going for gold when they represent Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics.

Daniel Rowden left the Loughton school in 2016. He had held the 800m record for every school year group, running 1min 52secs in 2014 which is national standard at that age group.

However his Year 7 record was finally broken at sports day on Monday.

Daniel was head boy and is currently studying engineering at Imperial.

Reece Prescod holds the 100m and 200m record for Year 9 in 2010. Reece, who left Davenant in 2012, was outstanding in PE gaining 100 per cent in his assessments.

Daniel will be competing in the 800m in Japan while Reece will be running in the 100m.

Headteacher Adam Thorne said: "We are very proud that two of our past students are representing Team GB in the Olympics.

"They were both outstanding athletes during their time at school and we wish them all the best."
6.20pm - July 19

BUCKHURST HILL: Four fire crews tackle derelict garage blaze

Four fire crews dealt with a blaze in a derelict garage in Queens Road, Buckhurst Hill, this afternoon.

Firefighters from Loughton, Waltham Abbey, Epping and Brentwood were called to Queens Road at about 2.45pm and took about an hour-and-a-half to put out the fire.

The garage has been destroyed. 
8.19pm - July 18

NORTH WEALD: Parish council's face-to-face administrative centre resumes

North Weald Bassett Parish Council's face-to-face administrative centre is resuming at Thornwood Common Parish Hall, Weald Hall Lane, Thornwood.

Parish council services will be offered on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 9,30am and 12.30pm from tomorrow (Monday, July 19).

Any change to these times will be advertised as the council will be operating according to Government guidance.

The council is offering a ‘drop-in service’ for residents who can make
appointments during these opening times if they prefer.

Anyone with any queries or anyone who needs to enquire about any council cervices, can ring the clerk on 07572 507591.

All parish council staff continue to work from home when not in the office.

The parish council hopes to be offering district council recycling bags, photocopying and cemetery services among others.

Parking is available.

Social distancing will be in place.
4.44pm - July 18

DISTRICT: New-look Civic Offices reopening

The refurbished Civic Offices in Epping High Street - the new Epping Community Hub - reopen tomorrow (Monday) with "new and better ways" of accessing services.

Visitors are asked to continue to observe social distancing, if others request it.

There will be hand sanitiser stations across the building and while masks are not essential, the council asks visitors to consider the needs of others when making your choice of whether to wear one. 

Anyone who suspects that they may be infected with COVID-19 is asked to stay away from the offices and follow guidance.

Enquiries can still be directed to the council's Customer Contact Centre on 01992 564000.

You can make payments, report an issue, apply for a service and book events online from the council's website homepage www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk.

There is a new Welcome Area at the Civic Offices.

If you make an appointment with an officer, you can book in via a new touch screen kiosk when you arrive.

There are new seating areas including private rooms for confidential discussions, informal sofas and chairs for less formal meetings.

For payments, the Broadway cash office in Debden is open Monday and Tuesday 10am to 2pm and payment kiosks are available at Waltham Abbey Library and the Civic Offices.

Clear recycling sacks will no longer be available from reception at the new Civic Offices but sacks can continue to be collected from 80 sites across the district.

The Civic Offices are open Monday-Thursday 9am to 5.15pm (Friday 9am to 5pm).

Epping Forest Citizens Advice Bureau, Epping Forest Foodbank, Changing Pathways and Voluntary Action Epping Forest are among council partners that will be joining the Epping Community Hub which is due to open shortly.

Qualis, the council-owned private companies, will also be based in the offices.

The meeting and conference facilities are available for hire, accommodating meetings ranging from just a few people up to 200 seated theatre-style.

The top floor of the building is being marketed as office accommodation for private businesses, paying rental income which the council says can be reinvested in public services.

The council is a signatory to the Emergency Climate Change Declaration as the council supports the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and impact on the local environment.

A council spokesman said: "Reducing our emissions is one reason why we are taking our staff off the roads. Nearly all our office-based staff are now able to use other ways of working.

"We don’t need large office space anymore. Homeworking means less of us are driving our cars, congesting our roads and polluting the environment.

"We need fewer parking spaces, and our smaller offices require less lighting, heating and water.

"The refurbishment also means more low energy LED lighting, and better insulation. Our computers and screens are more energy efficient, drawing less electricity. We have started to replace old petrol and diesel vehicles with low emission electric vehicles.

"And our new ways of working will reduce your carbon footprint too. Our digital and remote working also means you can take fewer car journeys to see us, saving you the time and expense of driving to Epping. Our aim is to become Carbon Neutral by 2030."

The spokesman added: "New ways of working, renting out spare space and reducing our impact on the environment produces real cost savings. Epping Forest District Council has only increased its share of the Council Tax once in the last ten years, and we continue to invest in frontline services.

"As we emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic, the efficiencies and savings we have achieved can be pushed into the recovery of our community and our local economy."
4.23pm - July 18

EXCLUSIVE

ONGAR: Two boys, 14, arrested after "disturbance"


Two 14-year-old boys have been arrested after police were called to "disturbance" in an Ongar road.

Police had been told a group of people were involved in an altercation in Fyfield Road and some had tried to get into a property.

Windows in a house were smashed during last night's incident, police said.

Everything Epping Forest had been told that several police vehicles and a large group of people were seen in Fyfield Road at about 7.40pm.

An Essex Police spokesman told Everything Epping Forest: "Two boys have been arrested following a disturbance in Fyfield Road, Ongar, which was reported to police at 7.10pm yesterday (Saturday).

"We received reports a group of people were involved in an altercation in the street.

"Some of the group attempted to enter the property of one of the individuals involved in the disturbance.

"Windows of the property were also smashed."

The spokesman added: "Officers carried out a search of the area and arrested two 14-year-old boys on suspicion of aggravated burglary and criminal damage."

The spokesman told Everything Epping Forest the boys remained in custody for questioning this afternoon.
2.09pm - July 16

ONGAR: Police issues can be raised at town council meetings

Local policing issues can now be raised at Ongar Town Council meetings when local beat officer PC Warren Shepherd will be present.

Anyone wanting to raise an issue should contact the town council before the meeting by emailing clerk@ongartowncouncil.gov.uk.
2.08pm - July 16

ONGAR: Town council considers grant applications

Ongar Town Council has rejected an application from Ongar Croquet Club for grant funding towards the cost of a clubhouse for its planned facility at Jubilee Park.

The club wants the clubhouse for players' use and to store equipment.

Councillors rejected the application as it is uncertain how many people will be playing once the playing area is ready.

A document submitted with the  application stated up to 50 people were interested in playing at the area next to the Jubilee Park Pavilion.

The club, which had applied for £4,250 towards the £4,750 cost of the clubhouse, told the council it had £3,000 which was being held by Ongar Tennis Club until the croquet club's bank account had been set up.

* The town council is to ask for further information before deciding on an application from Ongar Town Football Club which had applied for £1,634.75 to purchase kit and equipment for its new under-21s team, and to replace some other kit.
9.27am - July 16

ONGAR: Council considering future of cemetery chapel

Ongar Town Council is considering the future of the chapel in Ongar Cemetery.

The matter is being discussed again several years after an initial idea to possibly use the building as a museum was not progressed.

The council is to seek the views of Historic England over the building.

Councillor Lawrence Mendoza said: "We've got a building that's falling into disrepair. It was going to cost over £80,000 to put it right and it's just being used as a store. It doesn't make sense."

He added: "We're in a position where we have this building that people have tried to get grants on, and haven't succeeded. We have to decide what we are going to do with it.

"It doesn't have any use for people visiting the cemetery. We could sell it with conditions that whoever buys it has to make it good."

Locum clerk Michael Letch told Thursday's council meeting the chapel had been in use since 1860.

Currently the part of the building which is not consecrated is being used as a groundsman's store by the council.

He added that because of what the building is, where it is, and it being surrounded by consecrated land, the council - or any other owner - would be very limited to what it could do with it.

Councillor Jane Battersby said: "It's a real conundrum."

It was also suggested that an antique dealer could be approached over the unique turntable which is in the chapel before deciding any next steps.

The council has an earmarked £20,000 budget which could be spent on maintenance of the building, or to undertake repairs such as to the roof.
7.13pm - July 15

EPPING: MP visits new school

Epping Forest MP Dame Eleanor Laing met staff and students when she visited the new Tower School in Epping High Street.

The independent special school caters for children aged 11-18 with a primary diagnosis of autism. 

Dame Eleanor was escorted on a tour of the school, which opened in late April, by headteacher Kerry Linden. She met a number of staff including Head of Education Danny Neville who spoke to her about the school's curriculum. 

She then joined pupils in their Food Technology lesson where they were designing and making both savoury and sweet pizzas.

Dame Eleanor said: "I was delighted to be able to visit The Tower School and meet the staff and students who are already making great use of their new surroundings.

"The school offers fantastic educational opportunities for young people with autism, and it is great to have such facilities here in Epping."

Dame Eleanor added: "I was particularly pleased to hear about the school's special educational needs provision, and to sample some of the sweet pizza specially created by the students!"
2.36pm - July 15

EPPING: Service to mark 100th anniversary of war memorial

A 100 Years rededication service for Epping's war memorial will be held on Saturday, August 21 at 11am.

The service, to be taken by Rev'd Lee Batson, will include the reading of the names of the fallen with wreaths laid by Deputy Lieutenant of Essex councillor Hugh Pegrum, a Freeman of Epping, the town's two Young Townspersons of the Year and Town Mayor councillor Michael Wright.
2.35pm - July 15

EPPING: By-election costs town council £4,057

A by-election which was called following the resignation of Liberal Democrat Epping town councillor Ingrid Black has cost Epping Town Council £4,057.51, despite some of the cost being shared with the district and county councils as the ballot was held on local election day (May 6).

The by-election was won by Conservative councillor Simon Baker.

Councillor Hugh Pegrum told Tuesday's town council meeting: "It's a great shame that the party that they (the resigning councillor) belongs to should not be able to co-opt another person to take their place.

"Nine times out of ten the result would be the same."
2.33pm - July 15

EPPING: Next step towards skate park refurbishment

A tender document for the refurbishment of the skate park at the Stonards Hill recreation ground in Epping has been approved by town councillors.

The council is looking to work with a partner to obtain grant funding to refurbish the skate park in a project costing between £120,000 and £140,000 (excluding VAT).
1.09pm - July 15

EPPING: Buskers' idea for High Street

A suggestion to provide a space for buskers in Epping High Street has been supported by town councillors.

The idea was put forward by town councillor Mari-Louise Whitbread who suggested a gazebo or tent for performers after being approached by a resident.

She said it would be a "very non-expensive way of enhancing the town and the new space we have".

She added: "People love music and it would enhance the High Street and add character in a Covid-safe way.”

Councillor Nigel Avey told Tuesday's town council meeting: "It will add to the street scene."

Town clerk Beverley Rumsey said councillor Whitbread had indicated that she was confident of being able to find the performers however she added the council had to consider issues such as who would put up and take down the gazebo and who would schedule the musicians.

Councillor Barbara Scruton suggested inviting performers, but waiting to see how successful the venture was before committing to purchasing a gazebo.

The town council will now liaise with Epping Forest District Council on the way forward.
8.37pm - July 14

CHIGWELL: Decision deferred over plans for 35 apartments

A decision over plans for 35 apartments and four commercial units on the site of the Volvo car dealership in High Road, Chigwell, has been deferred. 

The area planning sub-committee tonight put off make a decision on the proposals pending publication of a viability statement for the scheme, and the attendance of the urban design officer at the meeting which will consider the application again.

The proposal - for nine one-bedroom and 26 two-bedroom apartments - was revised after initial submission to Epping Forest District Council with alterations having been made to the design, with a reduction in the number of homes from 40.

The plans, which were recommended for approval, detail an L-shaped main building fronting the High Road and Brook Mews. This building will be two-and-a-half storeys to the rear (Dickens Rise) raising to four storeys towards the front (High Road). 

To the rear, backing onto the railway line, there will be a separate two-storey block with two flats.

Twenty-nine car parking spaces are proposed with cycle parking for all flats.

Fifty-three letters of objection were sent to the district council opposing the development for various reasons - that the proposed development is too high and an over-development, not in character, and will result in an increase in traffic.

Objectors also said there was insufficient parking when parking issues while the proposals would impact on utilities, result in a loss of employment, and there being no affordable housing as part of the development.

Chigwell Parish Council chairman Celina Jefcoate told the planning meeting she was speaking as a representative for local residents as the parish council's 'no objection' decision had been taken by the previous council.

She told the meeting the parish council had received " lots of requests" opposing the development for various reasons, including the amount of parking proposed.

"You can't just stop using cars without a sustainable transport network."

She added Chigwell had only three London Underground trains an hour and only one bus service.

There are no cycle routes and no car sharing initiative, she added.

She said an equivalent density of 136 homes per hectare was "far too big" for Chigwell Village.

Barry Murphy, the applicant's agent, said the proposals "make the most effective use" of the land with the development suitable for first-time buyers and those wanting to downsize.

Chigwell Village district councillor Darshan Sunger said: "The key word is 'Village'. I'm all for protecting the visual and rural character of Chigwell Village."

He also questioned the parking provision and asked where were visitors going to park.

He said: "My fear is that they will use up some of the spaces that our local people use to park to shop in Brook Parade."

Councillor Kaz Rizvi highlighted the potential impact the amount of traffic the development would attract on Brook Parade which he described as "very much the heartbeat of our local economy".

Councillor Pranav Bhanot welcomed the inclusion of the commercial units and the employment opportunities adding that they "can only be of benefit to Chigwell".

Councillor Alan Lion said: "Looking at the properties, we're talking probably something like 70 cars and (with) 23 employees in the commercial units you're talking about 80 cars. 

"There's a major issue in terms of acceptability of that sort of parking."

The planning report stated that the parish council did not object "on the condition that the accordant viability assessments for affordable housing are conducted by the appointed housing officers". 

A planning officer's report stated: "The existing use (as a car showroom and workshop) has 17 full-time employees. The applicants have provided evidence that the proposed development (given the amount of commercial floorspace) has the capacity for 23 to 30 full-time employees. This would provide an increase in employment opportunities of between six to 13 full-time employees.

"In addition to increasing the employment capacity of the application site, the proposal is considered to have a positive impact on the vitality and viability of Brook Parade. 

"The addition of the proposed four commercial units will complement the existing local services provided by Brook Parade.

"With regards to the existing use, it is understood the lease is expiring and the size and layout of the site is not suitable for a modern car dealership due to the compromised vehicle access arrangements and the small forecourt area." 
2.27pm - July 14

LOUGHTON: Former Special Constable found to have committed gross misconduct

A former Loughton-based Special Constable who claimed expenses for duties he did not complete has been found to have committed gross misconduct.

Paul Cowup was found to have breached the standards of professional behaviour for honesty and integrity, and discreditable conduct.

A misconduct hearing was held at Essex Police Headquarters yesterday (Tuesday), chaired by Chief Constable BJ Harrington.

Mr Cowup had claimed for duty allowances and mileage on eight occasions between July 2019 and August 2020. The total amounted to £126.38.

However it was found he had not carried out the shifts for which he had claimed the expenses.

The hearing was told Mr Cowup admitted to claiming the money, citing a lack of confidence in his ability to do his role as a Special Constable rather than for monetary gain.

The chair concluded the matters amounted to gross misconduct and the former Special Constable would have been dismissed, had he not already resigned.

He will be placed on the College of Policing Barred List.

Chief Constable Harrington said: “I have considered the personal circumstances of the officer in this case and that he has fully admitted his actions.

“While I recognise that the job of a Special Constable is a challenging one, there are high standards of behaviour that all of us as officers and staff have to adhere to and there can be no justification for the dishonesty shown in this case.

"It undermines the trust and confidence of those we protect and serve.“

His actions do not reflect the hard work of our volunteer police officers, nor the wider Essex Police force.

“Essex has the second largest Special Constabulary in the country, who give up their time to keep the county’s residents safe, and I’m really proud of their dedication and commitment.”

Essex Police offers extensive training and support for all its officers, staff and volunteers, and line managers have regular one-to-one meetings with members of their team to ensure they are receiving the help they need.

Essex Police also has numerous support networks and mentoring and coaching schemes which provide peer support to support people with building their confidence.

Essex Police also has extensive health and wellbeing services to provide extra support.
6.58pm - July 13

EPPING: Police air base - "Madness" it is not at Lippitts Hill

Epping Town Council is to express its disappointment to Epping Forest District Council that it was not consulted before the district council objected to the planned return of police helicopters to the Met base at High Beach.

While the district council wants to see the air service remain at North Weald Airfield, Tuesday's town council meeting heard support for the return of the air service to Lippitts Hill.

Town councillor Hugh Pegrum said a base at Lippitts Hill would mean that helicopters flying into London would fly over less of Epping Forest than currently is the case with the NPAS aircraft based at North Weald Airfield.

Councillor Pegrum told the meeting the police helicopter regularly flies over the Lindsey Street area of Epping, despite the council having originally been told the flightpath would follow the M11.

He said the helicopter "has to go over far more of the forest" when flying into London from North Weald than it would if it was based at High Beach. 

He added it is seven miles from North Weald to Lippitts Hill, and a further 11 miles to Westminster.

"Every time that helicopter goes into London (from North Weald) it is flying an additional seven miles.

"Lippitts Hill is quite to one side of the forest, on the Avey Lane / Sewardstone side."

He said: "It's madness it's not at Lippitts Hill in the first place. I can't see any good reason why it should be at North Weald.

"There are very few houses around the base at Lippitts Hill - far fewer than in Epping and North Weald."

District and town councillor Nigel Avey said: "It's a done deal that they (the Metropolitan Police Service) are moving back to Lippitts Hill)."

Councillor Barbara Scruton said: "I do think we're sitting here as town councillors. There are issues (in the district council's letter) that we should raise."

In the district council's letter to the Metropolitan Police Service, council leader Chris Whitbread and chief executive Georgina Blakemore said: "Lippitts Hill lies within the heart of Epping Forest. The forest is a sensitive and delicate natural environment. It is a Special Area of Conservation of global significance, being one of the few remaining areas of original deciduous woodland left in the UK.

"The delicate eco-system of Epping Forest including special and rare species, plants and fungi is particularly vulnerable to air pollution.

"The forest is a source of great pride and concern to our local residents. Statutory regulations and strict oversight by the Corporation of London are designed to protect and preserve it, not only for the people of Essex. It is a place of peace and wellbeing enjoyed equally by our close neighbours in London. However, the environmental pressures on the forest are severe. 

"Pollution levels are too high. The district council, working in conjunction with local residents, the Corporation of London and other stakeholders is doing all we can to protect and preserve our Forest for future generations.

"The environmental impact of helicopter operations speaks for itself.

"The current NPAS base at North Weald is at a long-established airfield shared with other notable aviation operators including the Herts and Essex Air-Ambulance.

"The airfield is owned by Epping Forest District Council and we have worked in partnership with NPAS to support the construction of a brand new helicopter facility. 

"While our major concerns are not financial in this case, NPAS has a long lease with the council and will continue to provide air support for other police forces. It cannot be good value for the tax paying residents of either London or Essex, for the Metropolitan Police to leave such a recently delivered new facility.

"Our other main concern is for those residents living near Lippitts Hill within Epping Forest, High Beach and Waltham Abbey.

"It is one thing to buy a new house or home next to an existing airfield - you know what you are getting with aircraft coming and going before you purchase.

"However, many of the residents in and around Lippitts Hill have had no such choice. Many will have bought their homes in good faith and the understanding that helicopter operations had ceased with no reason to expect a return.

"The consequential noise, pollution and general disturbance associated with these helicopters at Lippitts Hill would be very hard to justify.

"If the historic legacy did not exist, it is almost inconceivable that anyone would consider Epping Forest to be a suitable location. 

"If planning permission was required, the district council, supported by the Corporation of London, environmental groups, other stakeholders and local residents would almost certainly turn any application down. 

"As such the Metropolitan Police has an ethical and moral duty as well as a legal ability to consider in taking this decision."
6.58pm - July 13

EPPING: Initial plan for ten three-bedroom houses on car repairs site

Initial plans for a housing development on the site of the Brian Shilton and Co car repairs site in Lindsey Street, Epping, are for ten three-bedroom houses.

Town councillors have been told that the current proposals - which are out for public consultation before a planning application is submitted - are for a row of seven two-and-a-half storey properties, a pair of semi-detached houses and a two-storey house.

Robert Miller, planning consultant with DWD property and planning consultancy, speaking on behalf of applicant Lindsey Street Ltd, told tonight's planning and general purposes committee that public consultation is currently taking place with neighbours and stakeholders before a planning application being submitted at the end of August.

Mr Miller said the site is a brownfield, general industrial use site.

He added that the proposed scheme would have private off-street parking - with a minimum of 12 spaces - with the design ensuring no overlooking of nearby properties.

Councillor Barbara Scruton told tonight's planning and general purposes committee: "It's great that you are providing family houses."

But she expressed concern over potential parking issues.

She said: "It would be disastrous if residents had to park in Lindsey Street."
UPDATE 7.46pm - July 14

Following Monday's two-car collision in Ongar High Street, Essex Police issued a statement to Everything Epping Forest which stated that the two drivers had been taken to hospital "with injuries that were not believed to be serious".
Today Everything Epping Forest has been contacted by a daughter of one of the drivers to say her mother remains in a "very serious condition in hospital with multiple fractures that will forever change her life".


2.53pm - July 13


ONGAR: Two people taken to hospital after High Street collision

Two people were taken to hospital following yesterday's two-vehicle collision which closed Ongar High Street for about three hours.

An Essex Police spokesman has told Everything Epping Forest the collision involved a Ford Fusion and a Jaguar X-Type.


The spokesman added that the injuries were not believed to be serious.

Firefighters took about 45 minutes to free two people from their vehicles following the crash which happened near the entrance to Zinc Arts near the Four Wantz roundabout.

An air ambulance was among the services called to the scene.

An Essex County Fire and Rescue Service spokesman told Everything Epping Forest: “Fire crews worked with paramedics to help release two people trapped in their vehicles.

“The casualties were rescued by 4.20pm and left in the care of the ambulance service and air ambulance.”

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman told Everything Epping Forest: "We were called at 3.30pm yesterday (Monday) with reports of a collision in High Street, Ongar.

"We sent two ambulances, an ambulance officer, Essex and Herts Air Ambulance and a rapid response vehicle.

"One person was taken to Princess Alexandra Hospital and one person was taken to Homerton University Hospital by land ambulance."
2.24pm - July 13

DISTRICT: Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinics now open

Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinics are now open at four venues across the Epping Forest district - in Chigwell, Epping, Loughton and Waltham Abbey.

They are open to all aged 18 and over for first or second doses (with the second dose eight weeks after first dose).

No appointments are necessary, and no ID is required.

Those attending do not need to be registered with a GP.

For more details, ring the helpline on 0344 2573 961 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4pm).

The vaccination clinics are at:
 
* Chigwell: Hindu Temple, Mandir Lane
Sunday, July 18 (10am to 4)pm - Pfizer

* Epping - Spencer Close, St Margaret's Hospital
Tuesday, July 13 (8.30am to 6pm) - Pfizer
Saturday, July 17 (8.30am to 3.30pm) - Pfizer
Sunday, July 18 (8.30am to 3.30pm) - Pfizer

* Loughton - Murray Hall, Borders Lane
Tuesday, July 13 (8.30am to 4.30pm) - AstraZeneca
Wednesday, July 14 (8.30am to 4.30pm) - AstraZeneca
Thursday, July 15 (8.30am to 4.30pm) - AstraZeneca
Friday, July 16 (8.30am to 4.30pm) - AstraZeneca

* Waltham Abbey - Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre, Hillhouse
Friday, July 16 (12.30pm to 7.30pm) - Pfizer
Saturday, July 17 (12.30pm to 4.30pm) - Pfizer

More details - and times for walk-in clinics in Harlow and Waltham Cross at https://www.myhealthessex.co.uk/walk-in-centres

The Murray Hall in Loughton will cease to be used as a COVID-19 vaccination centre on July 26.

The NHS has told Loughton Town Council: "We have had a very good run at Murray Hall for Phase 1 and 2 of the vaccination programme and are now moving on to Phase 3 and have had to consolidate sites across all areas of Herts and west Essex as we do not require the same level of services." 
4.47pm - July 11

ONGAR: More traders sign up for first market

More traders have signed up to take part in Ongar Town Forum's first Farmers' Market and Craft Market on Sunday, August 1.

A variety of stalls will be in the Pleasance car park, High Street, from 10am until 2pm.

The forum intends to hold the markets regularly, on the first Sunday of the month.

Visitors travelling to Ongar via the Epping Ongar Railway can benefit from a discounted 'Railway Ramblers' rate for people who return from Ongar Station after 2pm.

Stalls already signed up include a homemade spirits company, fish merchant, cheese, handmade and personalised gifts, cards, hand painted wooded signs, plaques and more.

Ongar Town Forum chairman Martyn Pattie said: "The idea of a regular farmers' market in the town has received a good response from the traders we have already approached and we hope to welcome them to Ongar on August 1.

"It is a great way to attract people into our town who may not normally venture to Ongar, and it will be a new feature for local residents to have a wide variety of stalls on their doorstep."

Ongar Town Forum is still appealing to local individuals and representatives from local groups to help.

If you can assist in any way - or would like to find out more about having a stall at the market - please email info@ongartownforum.co.uk.
8.41pm - July 9

EPPING: ​Restaurant and take-away plan for former Santander branch

Plans have been submitted to turn the former Santander branch in Epping High Street into a restaurant and take-away.

Since the bank closed, planning consent has been granted for the premises to be turned into a wine shop and luxury wine bar.

Now a further change of use planning application has been submitted to Epping Forest District Council.

Documents submitted with the latest planning application, which will be considered by Epping Town Council before a final decision is taken by the district council, states: "Opening up a closed-up premises and providing a tastefully fancy destination for the community will make the area lively."

The current consent, approved by the district council about a year ago, was for a "high quality, luxury venue" open from 10am and into the late evening catering for retail customers and evening on-sales customers when the intended specialist independent wine retail shop could be used for private functions "or just as a relaxing venue to enjoy a glass of wine".
7.23pm - July 9

EXCLUSIVE

CHIGWELL: Plan to demolish £25m mansion and build 15-bedroom property in its place

New plans have been drawn up to demolish a Chigwell property valued at almost £25m and build a 15-bedroom mansion in its place.

Planning permission has already been granted for a new property but now updated plans - to increase the size of the mansion by 17 per cent - have been submitted to Epping Forest District Council.

According to The Move Market website, the property - Broad Oaks at 34 High Road, Chigwell - was last sold in February 2019 for £23.25m, since when its value has increased by £1.668m.

The planning application details the demolition of the existing house, pool house and garage with other outbuildings and the building of a replacement 15-bedroom two-storey dwelling and garages.

Documents submitted with the planning application state: "The house has been rotated around its central axis by approximately 45 degrees. This was on the advice of the cultural and religious advisors to the applicant, who have requested that the front entrance faces East.

"There is no harm to openness, immediate landscape features or to access. The proposed dwelling remains as located on previously developed land.

"Many of the internal amendments also relate to this advice from the priest."

The document adds that the total volume of the new property, which includes a basement, is 9,130m3 - a 26.7 per cent increase on the existing property, and a 17 per cent increase on the already approved scheme.
4.25pm - July 9

LOUGHTON: Two Met Police staff served "misconduct notices" over missing teenager case

Two members of Metropolitan Police Service staff have been served "misconduct notices" following an investigation into the case of missing London teenager Richard Okorogheye whose body was found in Epping Forest.

The body of the 19-year-old was discovered in Wake Valley Pond off Epping New Road on Monday, April 5 - 13 days after he left his home in Ladbroke Grove, west London.

A search in Epping Forest was launched on March 31 after it emerged that Richard had made a taxi journey to Loughton on the night he left home.

He was dropped off in Smarts Lane at about 12.30am on Tuesday, March 23.

An investigation into the case was launched by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

An IOPC spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we have served misconduct notices on two members of Metropolitan Police Service staff as there is an indication that they may have failed to pass on new and relevant information relating to Richard Okorogheye to the team responsible for conducting missing person assessments.

"The serving of misconduct notices does not mean that disciplinary proceedings will follow.”
4.47pm - July 8

BUCKHURST HILL: Council freezes hire charges for community halls

Buckhurst Hill Parish Council has decided to freeze hire charges for its two community halls - Roding Valley Hall and The Woollard Centre - for the current financial year.

Finance and establishment committee chairman councillor Matt West told last Thursday's committee meeting: "I can't see any reason (to increase the charges). It would be madness."

* The committee also voted to freeze the charges to advertise in the council's magazine.
4.46pm - July 8

BUCKHURST HILL: Council reports 75 per cent drop in community halls' income

Income generated for Buckhurst Hill Parish Council through hire charges for its two community halls - Roding Valley Hall and The Woollard Centre - dropped by 75 per cent in 2020-21 because of the COVID-19 lockdown, parish council finance officer Kim Lumb told the council's finance and establishment committee.

Any hirers who had paid hire fees for bookings which had to be cancelled have been reimbursed.
7.52am - July 8

FYFIELD: Fyfield Village Weekend - a "great community success"

The Fyfield Village Weekend - held in a Big Top at Fyfield Village Hall - has been hailed as a "great community success" by Ongar & Rural county councillor Jaymey McIvor.

Visitors could browse numerous stalls and take part in various sideshow entertainment over the three-day event.

Councillor McIvor said: "It was great for the village to be able to hold the truly great community event which was a resounding success.

"After all these months of lockdown which has seen so many local events having to be cancelled, it was marvellous that the village was able to organise such an innovative weekend."
4.41pm - July 6

NORTH WEALD: Boy arrested after reports of vehicles being damaged

​A teenage boy has been arrested following reports of vehicles being damaged in North Weald.

​Police received a report at about 5.15pm yesterday (Monday) that a group of boys in the Blenheim Square area were damaging vehicles.

Local officers were sent to the scene and with air support from the National Police Air Service, three youths were detained.

A 16-year-old boy​,​ from North Weald​,​ was searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act and a suspected Class B drug ​(​cannabis)​ was found​. He remains under investigation. 

A 14-year-old boy​,​ from North Weald​, was arrested on suspicion of one count of criminal damage to a vehicle, possession of an offensive weapon and a public order offence.

He was ​taken into​ custody and later further arrested on suspicion of robbery relating to a reported incident on July​ 2​.

He has ​since been released under investigation whil​e​ ​police ​enquiries are progressed.
4.22pm - July 6

EPPING: Rain stays away as crowds flock to Town Show

PICTURES

The first Epping Town Show for two years was held by Epping Town Council at Stonards Hill recreation ground on Sunday.

A variety of stalls and sideshows manned by local organisations and businesses featured along with arena entertainment ranging from singing to Morris dancing, and performances from the Epping Forest Band and the Epping Forest Pipe Band.

There was also a flypast from a Spitfire.

Epping Town Mayor councillor Michael Wright said: "It was absolutely amazing that the people of Epping came out and supported Epping Town Council’s event despite the appalling weather.

"Thank you to everyone who was involved in the show this year - the first since 2019 because of the COVID-19 situation.

"We look forward to seeing everyone next year.”
3.42pm - July 6

ONGAR: Soprano wins Essex Young Musician of the Year competition

Soprano Madeline Robinson has won Ongar Music Club's Essex Young Musician of the Year competition, which was held online this year.

Madeline, 24, from Leigh-on-Sea, received the £1,000 prize, the Essex Young Musician of the Year cup and recital engagements.

Madeline studied at the Birmingham Conservatoire and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Second prize - the £400 Hall Memorial Prize and Cup - was won by Mezzo-Soprano Holly Putt, 23, originally from Chelmsford.  Holly is now a student at Trinity Laban Conservatoire.

* Third prize - £300 - The Waitrose Prize and Medal - Melinda Blackman, 26, violin, from Colchester

* Fourth prize - £200 - The Ongar Round Table Prize and Medal – Justin Man, 16, piano, from Harlow

* Fifth prize - £100 - The Arts Society West Essex Prize and Medal – Isabella Pincombe, 23, oboe, originally from Southend

* Sixth prize - £75 - The Ongar Music Club Prize and Medal – Amy Ward, 21, flute, from Colchester

Two further prizes for under-19s were also awarded:

* The Geoffrey Timms Memorial Prize of £100 and Medal - Elizabeth Loboda, 17, oboe, from South Ockendon.

* The Bert Webster Memorial Prize of £100 Chimes Music Tokens and Medal - Nell Ramdenee, 16, piano, from Saffron Walden.
 
Roderick Elms, chairman of adjudicators and competition administrator, said: "The 2021 Essex Young Musician of the Year saw a very high entry of 21 young musicians ranging in age from 16 to 26. Some were still at school while others had already left music college and finding their way in the profession.

"As last year's competition couldn’t be held due to the lockdown, Ongar Music Club was delighted to find a way forward this year by running the competition online."

Ongar Music Club chairman Jane Webster said: “Ongar Music Club has continued its activities with regular monthly online concerts during the past six months.

"We are delighted that we were able to adapt and hold the competition again this year, and that we had such a marvellous response from young Essex musicians. They all did a terrific job producing their videos. 

"All first round entrants who were not prize winners will be receiving a gift token from Chimes Music Shop from us in recognition of their hard work and enthusiasm."

She added: "We are very grateful to our sponsors this year who have given us such wonderful support - Waitrose Buckhurst Hill, Tesco, West Essex Arts Society, Ongar Round Table, Ongar Town Council and Essex County Council."
9.36pm - July 5

Councillor lays flowers to remember NHS staff who have died due to COVID-19

Ongar & Rural county councillor and North Weald district councillor Jaymey McIvor marked the 73rd anniversary of the NHS to remember NHS staff who have died due to Covid-19.

Councillor Jaymey McIvor laid flowers at the Debt of Honour in North Weald and at the war memorial wall at Ongar and District War Memorial Medical Centre in Fyfield Road today (Monday) in memory of those who have died of Covid-19 whilst serving on the NHS frontline.

He said: "Whilst many key frontline workers have passed away from Covid-19, today’s 73rd year anniversary of the National Health Service seemed the appropriate time to take a moment to remember those who have died on the frontline during this pandemic.

“We owe a huge debt to the men and women of our NHS who fight for us daily, both during and long before the pandemic."

He laid pink roses, which are symbolic of thankfulness, and white roses, which are a symbol of eternity.

Councillor McIvor said: "The combination of white and pink roses was a way to show eternal gratitude to our NHS."
9.24pm - July 2

Volunteers needed to help at Ongar Town Forum's first Farmers' and Craft Market

Plans are progressing for the first Ongar Town Forum 'Farmers' Market and Craft Market' - but volunteers are needed to help on the day.

Volunteers are sought to assist with poster distribution in the days preceding the event, stall allocation and stewarding during the event - on Sunday, August 1 -  and rubbish clearance at the end of the market.

The market will be held in the Pleasance car park (the library car park), High Street, Ongar, between 10am and 2pm.

Visitors travelling to Ongar via the Epping Ongar Railway can benefit from a discounted 'Railway Ramblers' rate for people who return from Ongar Station after 2pm.

Stalls already signed up include a homemade spirits company, fish merchant, cheese, handmade and personalised gifts, cards, hand painted wooded signs, plaques and more.

Market co-ordinator Derek Birch said: "The Ongar Town Forum is planning to hold a series of outdoor markets to attract visitors to Ongar and to bring local people out on a Sunday.

"The intention is to also attract business to the High Street's traders who have experienced a difficult last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Several new businesses are opening in the town, and this is a great opportunity to breathe further new life into Ongar."

Ongar Town Forum is appealing to local individuals and representatives from local groups to help.

If you can assist in any way, please email info@ongartownforum.co.uk by Monday, July 19.
5.22pm - July 2

EPPING: Town Show update

Epping Town Council still intends to hold the Epping Town Show at the Stonards Hill recreation ground on Sunday (noon until 5pm) but there will be some changes to the layout because of the soft ground and the forecast weather.

A flypast from an RAF Spitfire is expected over the show at about 2.20pm.

There will be no public parking on the recreation ground, except for disabled attendees.

The other main change is that the funfair will have children’s rides only on the day (noon to 5pm) only, and not today (Friday) or tomorrow (Saturday).

There will be a few minor changes to the layout of some of the stalls, and there will be no donkey rides as previously advertised.

Covid-19 precautions will be in place and anyone attending is asked to take their own sanitiser, face covering and deck chairs.

Arena programme:

noon - Official opening by Town Mayor councillor Michael Wright
12.05pm - Epping Forest Band
12.45pm - Illusions Dance Academy
1.30pm - Etcetera Morris Men
2.15pm - Epping Forest Pipe Band
3pm - Matthew Shephard
3.25pm - Noel Cowley
4pm - Sublime Science Show
5pm - Close

• Punch and Judy Show (show times 1pm, 2pm and 3pm)
• Scotty’s Circus workshop
• Dog agility area
• Farm animals
• Meet the alpacas
• RAF Spitfire flypast (2.21pm approximately)
• Julie’s at Stonards Café at Jack Silley Pavilion
• Craft and charity stalls
• Food and drink stalls
• Epping Horticultural Society’s flower show
• Fun fair - children’s rides and stalls
3.05pm - July 2

BUCKHURST HILL: Council raises drug concerns with police

The issue of alleged drug-dealing in the Knighton Lane car park in Buckhurst Hill has been raised with local police officers by Buckhurst Hill Parish Council.

Councillor Gavin Chambers told Thursday's parish council meeting he hoped there would now be more police patrols in the area after he was alerted to the problem which allegedly took place at about 5pm last Sunday.

Council chairman Stephen Neville said he had been told that photographic evidence had been reported surrounding a similar issue in Hornbeam Close.
3.04pm - July 2

BUCKHURST HILL: Council to consider funding defibrillators

Buckhurst Hill Parish Council is to discuss providing a defibrillator or defibrillators within the parish.
3.03pm - Friday, July 2

BUCKHURST HILL: Two highways schemes to go ahead

Two highways schemes are to be carried out in Buckhurst Hill following the award of funding from the Epping Forest Local Highways Panel.

Buckhurst Hill and Loughton South county councillor and parish councillor Marshall Vance told Thursday's Buckhurst Hill Parish Council meeting that the roundabout at the Palmerston Road-Westbury Road junction will be repainted and the speed cushions in Roebuck Lane will be replaced.

Mr Vance added that a scheme for bollards in Blackmore Road and Thaxted Road has gone through the initial stage but is still awaiting funding.

The bollards will stop pavement parking in both roads.
2.07pm - July 2

The Epping bench: A special place to remember an "amazing lady"

A widower who placed a heart on a bench on the Town Green in Epping has spoken about the poignant note that he left with it, revealing it had been a special place for his wife in the years leading up to her death from breast cancer.

A picture of the heart and hand-written note - which reads 'This heart is for my wife, mummy and best friend who lost her battle to cancer and the rest of the people who lost their battle' - was posted on the Everything Epping Forest Facebook group by a reader  - and was seen by Brian Holmes.

Brian's wife, Kay, died on January 21 aged 54 - eight years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

For Brian and Kay, the bench near the High Street was a special place - and it continues to be for Brian who regularly sits there thinking of his wife and their special times together 'people watching'.

Brian told Everything Epping Forest: "The reason I left the heart on the bench was to tell our friends which bench we sat on to 'people watch'. Then I thought that people will start to think why was the heart there so I left a note and hoped it would explain.

"My wife was told eight years ago she had breast cancer. When we came out of the hospital at Epping we sat on the bench. We were shocked.

"A couple of weeks later she sat on this very bench and wanted to talk about her funeral and plan it. I said I couldn’t, just hoping we could beat this.

"A year later I agreed and I would sit and listen to what she wanted (at her funeral). 

"She told me the music, she told me where her ashes had to be scattered. Here (by the bench) is one of the places.

"She told me 'don't do anything stupid' as the kids will need me, and I’ve kept to everything she asked of me."

Brian, who lives in Harlow, added: "When she got her wings it was very different. I was now 'good cop, bad cop' and I would have to stay up and worry what time the little one would come home. Before that she had done all that while I slept.

"You ladies, I take my hat off to you all. She was an amazing lady and thought of everything.

"In our bedroom I came across a drawer. Inside were boxes for the kids and me that she had been filling over the last seven years, and on Mother’s Day they got them. There's more to give them over this year and more places for her ashes to go."

More than 100 messages have been posted on Everything Epping Forest's
Facebook page in response to the picture of the heart and the bench.

Brian said: "I would like to thank you for all the messages. It makes me smile. So if you ever see me sitting there on the bench 'people watching' please join me.

"Over all the years we sat there Epping has entertained us and we have laughed, and now I know she is still sitting there now with her battered sausage and chips and a can of Coke which I will leave every anniversary.

"She told me to never stop laughing as it made her happy. I miss my soul mate. 

"People say to me that as time goes on it gets easier. It doesn’t. I’m getting used to living with it.

"Thank you to James Percival as if it was not for him posting the picture then you would never have known the story of the heart. 

"Enjoy the bench 'people watching'. We did and one day you will see me there, just say 'hi'."
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