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LOUGHTON: Family left homeless after house fire

8.41am - 13th February 2016

A FAMILY-of-four have been left homeless after a fire at their home in Newmans Lane, Loughton. 
Five fire crews were called to the two-storey semi-detached house shortly before 1pm yesterday after the fire started in an upstairs bedroom. 
On arrival it was reported that the upstairs was well alight and the entire property was smoke logged. 
The fire got into the loft and roof space and crews battled to prevent it spreading to the adjacent property.
Crews took about two hours to deal with the blaze. 
Sub-officer Jon Ford said: “We believe the fire was caused by a cigarette burning beside a bed. 
“The bedroom was totally destroyed and the rest of the upper floor was severely damaged. The heat was phenomenal and the building was completely smoke logged. 
"Crews did a fantastic job in preventing this large fire from spreading to other properties.”

   

ONGAR: Gardens talk to ladies group

8.39am - 13th February 2016

A TALK on the National Gardens Scheme was given by Linda Holdaway at the March meeting of Ongar and Shelley Ladies Thursday Group. 
Together with her husband, they are assistant county organisers for the 67 Essex gardens covered by the scheme which started in 1927.
In 2003 Prince Charles became patron. 
Gardens vary from small to large with all money raised going to charity. 
The main beneficiaries are Macnmllan Nurses, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Parkinsons and Hopkins charity (set up recently to commemorate the life of a young man killed by a Polar Bear)..

   

ONGAR: Councillors to deliver annual report

10.23am - 12th February 2016

ONGAR Town Council's public relations committee has voted to produce an annual report which will be delivered by councillors to every household in the parish. 
The decision comes seven months after the council decided to scrap its regular newsletter after several Ongar Residents Association councillors said they were not prepared to deliver copies. 
Last night's public relations committee voted in favour of getting 3,000 copies of the annual report printed at a cost of £295. 
Labour councillor Peter Gode said: "If it's not delivered then we know the councillors who are not answerable to their community." 
Councillor Andrew Kaye said the previous arrangements which saw the annual report - and newsletter - delivered by councillors had "worked well". 
He added: "I was very sad that some people (councillors) are very resistant to that (councillors delivering the report/newsletters). It put the face of the council forward. It's an unbeatable system. I was very sad to see it go." 
Ongar Residents Association councillor Christine Feetham abstained from voting on the delivery method.
None of the other four Ongar Residents Association councillors who are members of the public relations committee attended the meeting.

   

ONGAR: Council supports parking scheme

8.42am - 12th February 2016

A PARKING scheme for the grassed area in Millbank Avenue is being supported by Ongar Town Council.
Epping Forest District Council says the scheme is fourth in a district-wide list of 42 projects with the work in a batch of schemes to be considered in the next financial year. 
Councillor Diana Roberts, who chaired last night's town council planning committee, said: "People always park there. It has ruts in it. It's in a really bad state." 
When the scheme has received the support of district councillors, residents will be consulted. 
Should they be in favour then a planning application will be submitted.

   

ONGAR: Town council fails to elect committee chairmen

8.24am - 12th February 2016

ONGAR Town Council has failed to elect a chairman for its planning and environment and public relations committees. 
New chairmen are required following the resignation from the council of Independent councillor Sheila Jackman. 
Councillors Diana Roberts, Peter Gode, Andrew Kaye and Janice Rushton were all nominated as planning and environment committee chairman at last night's meeting but none wanted to take on the role. 
Councillor Roberts agreed to take the chair for last night's meeting only. 
The public relations committee is also without a chairman after none of the four committee members present - Christine Feetham, Janice Rushton, Alison Wingfield and Peter Gode - wanted the position. Councillor Feetham, the committee vice-chairman, agreed to chair last night's meeting but said: "I don't particularly want to take on another (committee chairmanship)."

   

LOUGHTON: Play area designs on display

8.17am - 12th February 2016

THE final range of designs for new play equipment for the Traps Hill play area, Loughton, will go on show at Loughton Library on Wednesday, February 17 (11am-3pm). 
Loughton Town Council says it has taken into account all the comments made by users during the public consultation last autumn. 
Now, following the formal tender process, the new designs are available for residents to pick their favourites. 
Work is scheduled to start after the Easter holidays.

   

EPPING: Sainsbury's dismisses 'Local' store rumour

7.39am - 12th February 2016

SUPERMARKET giant Sainsbury has dismissed rumours that it is planning to open a 'Local' store in Epping. 
Everything Epping Forest has heard speculation linking the company with the Billie Jeans nightspot site which is to be redeveloped with retail use on the ground floor and flats above. 
A Sainsbury's spokesman told Everything Epping Forest: "While we are always looking for suitable sites for our stores, we have nothing planned in Epping at this present time."

   

WALTHAM ABBEY: Students attend Girls in STEM event

9.46am - 11th February 2016

NINE Year 9 girls at King Harold Academy, Waltham Abbey, attended the Girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) event organised and sponsored by Accenture UK at the Royal Institute, London. 
The students were joined by hundreds of other girls from across London. Tasked with designing a belt buckle using 3D software, Rosie Seddon won second prize - an iPod shuffle - for innovation and creativity while Amy Vallance won the programming prize - an Asus tablet - for the fastest code breaker! 
The event was a great opportunity for the girls to experience different aspects of STEM and see how women can be a huge asset within the organisations. 
The day featured speeches from CEOs, engineers, marketing executives - all of whom were women who worked for world renowned organisations - and MPs. 
The girls were encouraged to develop their communication skills by working with girls from other schools in various workshops. This enabled them to talk about their experiences and think about where they saw themselves in the future working within STEM. 
Harmy Juttla, King Harold Academy's Curriculum Team Leader for Computer Science and Business Studies, said: “It was a highly motivational and inspirational day for all the girls who attended from King Harold Academy.”

   

HASTINGWOOD: County council confirms waste site plan scrapped

8.42am - 11th February 2016

NORTH Weald Bassett Parish Council has received official confirmation from Essex County Council that a site off the M11 junction 7 roundabout at Hastingwood has been removed from a list of allocated sites for a waste facility. 
The parish council was told unofficially last month that the location, next to the McDonald's restaurant, had been dropped as a possible site for open-air disposal of inert construction, demolition and excavation waste. 
Essex County Council said it had taken the decision because the site is in the Metropolitan Green Belt and any proposals would be rejected unless very special circumstances apply. 
The council states: "Following further consideration of representations received it is no longer clear that the waste use amounts to very special circumstances. Given this uncertainty this site is no longer included in the RLWP (Replacement Local Waste Plan)." 
The parish council has welcomed the decision after it branded the idea "completely unacceptable". 
Parish council chairman Cyril Hawkins had said that the site - near housing, St Clare Hospice, Harlow Garden Centre and the restaurant - was “completely unacceptable”. 
The parish council had feared the waste use could have seen eight lorries entering and exiting the site every hour every day of the year. 
Epping Forest District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee had said the plan should be rejected amid concerns that the use would increase traffic congestion around the junction 7 roundabout.
Welcoming the county council's announcement, Mr Hawkins said: "The parish council is delighted to have received this official confirmation that the site is no longer under consideration. 
"This news brings to an end a period of great uncertainty for the parish as we feared that such a use could go ahead despite the wishes of the parish council and local residents."

   

LOUGHTON: School choir sings at O2 Arena

4.06pm - 10th February 2016

THE Thomas Willingale School Choir joined thousands of other children for a gala concert at the O2 Arena, London. 
They were invited by the Young Voices organisation which runs the biggest children's choir in the world.
Some 7,800 children took part in Monday's event when the choir sang with Katie Melua, Lemar, Laura Wright and X-Factor winner Ben Haenow. 
The children had a fantastic time singing their hearts out and "busting out" moves to Uptown Funk led by the Urban Strides dancers. 
The gala concert raised money for the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Trust.

   

BUCKHURST HILL: Community Cinema screenings

8.47am - 9th February 2016

TWO hit films will be screened at the next Buckhurst Hill Parish Council 'Community Cinema' event. 
The screenings are at Roding Valley Hall, Station Way, Buckhurst Hill, on Saturday (February 13) with the American computer animated superhero science fiction action film Big Hero 6 at 3pm and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy, at 8pm. 
Admission is free to all local residents but tickets must be booked in advance. 
Snacks and other refreshments will be on sale. 
For more information, and to book tickets, email film@buckhursthillpc-gov.uk or ring 020 8498 9933.
Donations for the Alzheimer's Society would be welcomed.

   

DISTRICT: District council plans decade without increasing council tax

8.47am - 9th February 2016

EPPING Forest District Council is set to freeze its share of council tax bills for the sixth successive year, and intends not to increase it for at least the next four years. 
Finance portfolio holder Syd Stavrou told the cabinet meeting: "Epping Forest District Council’s long track record of very prudent financial management should allow it to maintain services yet again without having to increase council tax. 
"There will be a relatively small amount of savings on the 2016-17 budget rather than cuts to services.
"We are not underplaying the difficult financial climate. We are a low-tax, pro-business, pro-environment council but we are walking a tightrope between protecting front-line services and keeping council tax down. 
"Central government grants are expected to continue falling until the council is wholly reliant on its own income. So far we have been very successful but it has needed a lot of innovation."
She added: "We are very frugal. We have made some very significant savings but we also try to use our assets to the best advantage of our residents. 
"For example, the re-letting of the domestic waste and recycling contract last year saved many hundreds of thousands of pounds. 
"Solar panels on our office roof are the latest in a series of investments to cut fuel costs. 
"The completion of the Epping Forest Shopping Park (at Langston Road, Loughton) next year will create another major new source of income. 
"If we continue to invest to accumulate in this way I am confident we can continue to keep the district council tax down and more money in the pockets of our residents where it belongs." 
Should the Cabinet recommendations be approved at full council, the annual Band D cost of council tax for the district council of £148.77 will not have increased since 2010. 
Council leader Chris Whitbread concluded the debate by echoing the sentiments of fellow cabinet members by thanking Mrs Stavrou and the team of supporting officers. 
He emphasised the importance of teamwork and careful planning that meant Epping Forest District Council could continue to invest and protect front line services.

   

EPPING: Blue plaque highlights Churchill's link with town

3.58pm - 8th February 2016

A BLUE plaque highlighting Sir Winston Churchill's links to Epping - where he was Member of Parliament for 1924 until 1945 - has been unveiled in the High Street. 
The plaque is on the frontage of the Marks and Spencer store from where Churchill addressed the crowds during his time as MP. 
The plaque was made possible by Epping Town Council following a request from Epping resident David Lodge. 
Mr Lodge said: "Winston Churchill is one of our greatest leaders in history and he should be recognised in this town." 
Mayor Michael Wright, who unveiled the plaque, described Churchill as "a truly great man". 
He added: "Sir Winston Churchill is such an important historical figure and such an important figure in this district. In 1923, Churchill was encouraged to stand for MP for the Epping Division in 1924 and was successful. 
"The rest, as they say, is history. 
"He was successful in three more elections in Epping in 1929, 1931 and 1935, being as forthright on our behalf as he was as Prime Minister. 
"Churchill campaigned in 1935,in Epping High Street outside the Victoria Buildings, which is now Marks & Spencer. how amazing to think he stood in our market with his trademark cigar. 
"Despite being very busy during the wartime years, Churchill still took an interest in what was going on in the area. He sent messages of congratulations when money was raised during events such as War Weapons Week. 
"His wife, Clementine, attended a number of events in the town, including inspecting the Epping detachment of the Girls Training Corps and some of our residents remember meeting her."
In October 2008, a plaque to commemorate Sir Winston Churchill’s many years of service as Epping’s MP was unveiled omn the same shopfront by current MP Eleanor Laing. 
Churchill's grandson Sir Nicholas Soames - in a message to Epping Town Council - said the Churchill family were "very touched" that Epping should have marked his grandfather in such a way. 
Sir Nicholas added: "My grandfather was proud to be a Member of Parliament in your part of the world."
Mrs Laing said: "It is a great privilege to represent in Parliament the seat held for such a long time by Winston Churchill and we all really appreciate the Churchill family’s continued interest in and support for the Epping Forest constituency. 
"Winston’s inspirational speeches saw our country through its darkest hours during the Second World War. It is not difficult to imagine him standing right here in the middle of Epping, rousing his audience with his great rhetoric. 
"I am so pleased that this new plaque has been put up. It is important that future generations learn about what Winston Churchill stood for. And it is great to celebrate the central role that Epping played in his life.”
Before unveiling the plaque, at a ceremony attended by councillors, local residents and Marks and Spencer staff, Mrr Wright said: "It gives me the greatest pleasure to unveil this blue plaque to Sir Winston Churchill, to make sure our history is marked for future generations. 
"Never has so much been owed by so many to one man."

PICTURES

   

NORTH WEALD: Meeting to decide on Neighbourhood Plan

2.15pm - 8th February 2016

RESIDENTS of North Weald Bassett Parish - North Weald, Hastingwood and Thornwood - are invited to a special meeting before the parish council decides whether to proceed with a Neighbourhood Plan. 
Over recent months North Weald Bassett Parish Council has held a number of public events to establish how much support there is for the creation of a Neighbourhood Plan for the designated Neighbourhood Area which contains most of the North Weald Bassett Parish. 
The parish council was concerned with the level of support with very few residents actively engaging in the process and expressing support for such a plan. 
The final stage in establishing how the council moves forward is a public event in North Weald at 7.30pm on Monday, February 15, at which the council will be looking to establish if there are enough residents willing to 'sign up' to the creation of a plan. 
A Neighbourhood Plan must be genuinely community led, and its success relies on public involvement. The parish council is looking for residents who are willing to give up some of their time to dedicate towards the tasks and activities needed to create such a plan. 
As with all such projects, there is a cost implication to the Parish however if there are enough professional people and residents within the Parish (such as planners, urban designers, printers, architects, developers etc) willing to be involved offering their expertise, the cost can be greatly reduced. 
Parish council chairman councillor Cyril Hawkins said: "There are over 7,000 residents in the Parish. If our residents decide a Neighbourhood Plan is the way forward, then the parish council will fully support them, however it cannot be done without enough public support." 
To find out more about Neighbourhood Planning and what it means for residents and the community visit www.ourneighbourhoodplanning.org.uk
Anyone interested in getting involved with creating a Plan for the area, or who would like to attend Monday's event, should email ourplan@northweald-pc.gov.uk

   

DISTRICT: Schools attend careers event

1.32pm - 8th February 2016

KING Harold Academy in Waltham Abbey and Debden Park High School, Loughton, were part of the annual Careers Fest at Epping Forest College. 
The event, the sixth annual careers fair to take place in the district, was held in collaboration with Epping Forest schools and colleges. 
With more than 60 exhibitors, the evening was a great success with students and parents speaking to a variety of exhibitors including national and local employers, industry experts and further education providers and universities. 
Jaci Hammond, Head of Careers at King Harold Academy, said she was delighted to see so many students and parents taking up the wonderful opportunity to explore careers, gain up-to-date job market information and make plans for the future.

   

EPPING: All set for Youth Makes Music

8.47am - 8th February 2016

THE programme for the Rotary Club of Epping's 'Youth Makes Music' concert has been confirmed. 
Some 30-plus students from local schools and music schools will perform solo items at St John's Church, St John's Road, Epping, on Saturday (February 13). 
They will be joined by the Theydon Bois Primary School Choir, the Our Voices Children's Choir - which has members from several local schools - and the Epping St John's School Year 12 Band. 
Mike Morgan, chairman of the Rotary Club of Epping's Youth and Vocational Service Committee, said: "We are delighted to stage the Youth Makes Music concert again this year. 
"It is a wonderful opportunity for local children and local schools to showcase their musical talents before an audience." 
Joel Goodman, of the North Weald-based Goodman's Music School, said: "I am delighted that the Epping Rotary Club has invited my pupils to participate in the prestigious biennial musical event. 
"I try to be involved with all local musical events that arise as it is great experience for my pupils. Most recently my choir pupils were involved with the Epping Christmas Market." 
Rebecca Harvey, subject leader for music at Epping St John's School, said: "The school is really excited to be involved again with the Youth Makes Music event. Students from Year 7 to Year 12 are going to be performing in a variety of musical acts. 
"Youth Makes Music is a wonderful event as it celebrates the wonderful work and musical skills of the young people of our and other schools." 
Epping St John's School headteacher Allan Osborne added: “What a great way to celebrate our students' talents in the community." 
Admission is by programme (£2 for adults), which can be purchased on the night.

   

WALTHAM ABBEY: Drama workshop for students

3.43pm - 5th February 2016

YEAR 10 drama students at King Harold Academy took part in a two-hour workshop organised by Debden Park High School's Head of Drama Seb Ventura and the Frantic Assembly company. 
Students took part in practical lessons and learnt about the company’s methods in devising their performance work. 
They also took part in an active warm-up encouraging them to work together as a team and building their ensemble skills. 
The students then progressed to devising short pieces of movement in pairs and creating dramatic storylines before they created group pieces, working together as an ensemble to develop movement based drama. 
King Harold Academy's Head of Drama Helenelaine Blyth said: “What the students created was exciting and imaginative, building their team skills, creativity and devising skills. 
"All students thoroughly enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot about new ways to develop theatre. It was a worthwhile and inspirational experience.”

   

CHIGWELL: School staff stage pantomime

2.50pm - 5th February 2016

CHIGWELL School staff helped raise £2,500 when they staged the latest staff pantomime. 
The tenth biannual staff pantomime was directed by Sixth Form Drama Scholars Will Weightman and Barney Walsh. 
This year’s performance of Peter Pan featured a 16-strong cast of staff - including teachers and support staff - who provided songs, dance and slapstick comedy to two full houses. 
The money will be split between Save the Children and the Timothy Pruss Memorial School in India, which is supported by Chigwell School. 
Barney said: "The panto was an undeniable success, not only due to the laughs but also due to both nights being sold out."

   

CHIGWELL: School holds Gifted and Talented Day

2.48pm - 5th February 2016

WEST Hatch High School's Design and Technology Department held its annual Gifted and Talented day for Year 9 pupils. 
Pupils worked within either Food Technology or Resistant Materials. 
For the Food activity pupils had the opportunity to learn advanced food preparation skills working as a team and managing their time to successfully produce a batch of high quality fruit tartlets made using Pâte à Sucre Pastry which was baked blind and filled with a Crème Pâtissière, a selection of fresh fruit and a fruit coulis with spun sugar work for decoration. 
Pupils thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity and were keen to take home and share their fruit tartlets. 
In Resistant Materials, activities were arranged as a group-based exercise with pupils using an existing designer as a basis and influence to upcycle a product. 
They first examined either Renzo Piano, Ai Wei Wei, James Dyson or Zaha Hadid, and used that designer’s style to make a product. 
The product ranged from a chair to stools to storage containers. The products are now in use and on display in the Design and Technology Department.

   

WALTHAM ABBEY: School set for Music for Youth festival

10.05am - 5th February 2016

KING Harold Academy's ukulele and guitar ensemble, 'The King's Strings', travel to Watford on Sunday, March 6, to take part in the country-wide Music for Youth Regional Music Festival. 
Some of the 22-strong ensemble only picked up a ukulele for the first time last week and face an intensive rehearsal schedule ahead of the big day. 
Head of Music Diana Russell said: “They are all doing really well and have already learnt their first song.”
If successful, the group might be invited to perform at the National Finals in July, and maybe eventually at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

   

CHIGWELL: School set for dance show

9.11am - 5th February 2016

WEST Hatch High School will be hosting its annual dance show on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, March 22-24. 
This year's theme is 'The Haunted House' with the audience seeing three young students enter the house - but do they come out at the end? 
This year the show is extra special as the Year 13s who are performing in their final show were Head of Dance Rachael Minister's first cohort of dancers when she arrived in 2009 and set up the Dance Department. 
Mrs Minister said: "Seven years ago there was no dance at West Hatch High School and the show was very basic. 
"We had minimal lighting and sound and students danced in their PE kits or black costumes. We had no money in the budget and basically started from scratch. 
"Now we run the show over three nights pulling in sell-out audiences of 300 people with professional sound and lighting and costumes to match the theme." 
Freya Anderton, Lucy Fellowes, Sarah Wilson and Josie Creatini have been in every dance show since they started in Year 7 in 2009, and now are studying Dance as an A-Level and are Dance Ambassadors. Mrs Minister said: "I have seen the four students grow into beautifully talented young women who excel in most things they do. 
"They are kind, conscientious, hardworking and a delight to teach and I trust them entirely. They are not just students but young women I am proud to have taught and it will be sad to see them leave West Hatch.
Lucy Fellowes said: "I cannot believe it has been seven years since the dance show started and I feel incredibly privileged to have been a part of them all. 
"I remember looking up to the Year 13 dance students when I was in Year 7 thinking I want to be one of them when I am older, and now I am. 
"I feel honoured to take part in an event that brings the whole student body together. The amount of hard work Mrs Minister and the students put into the three nights is incredible and has given me so many fantastic memories. 
"I will never forget my time at West Hatch because of Dance and I will be sad to leave the West Hatch Dance Family." 
Alongside the four students are six other Year 13 dancers who will be performing in their last dance show, some who have been in at least five previous shows. 
Mrs Minister said: "It will be sad to see them go but we will make sure this dance show is one of the best yet and audiences will come away inspired and entertained." 
Tickets go on sale at the school after half-term.

   

LOUGHTON: Art work on show

1.20pm - 4th February 2016

ART work by pupils at the Oak-Tree Schools has gone on display at Loughton Art Gallery. 
Work by students at Oaklands School, Loughton; Coopersale Hall School, Epping; Normanhurst School, North Chingford; and Braeside School, Buckhurst Hill, is on show until tomorrow.
A private viewing on Friday was attended by the young artists and their families. 
The exhibition forms part of a month-long schools' exhibition entitled 'Loughton Young Artists'. 
A panel of three independent judges will pick a winner and runner-up who will receive cash prizes.

   

LOUGHTON: Town council freezes council tax again

1.16pm - 4th February 2016

LOUGHTON Town Council has frozen its share of council tax bills for a seventh successive year by unanimously approving a precept of £594,600.
The proportion of council tax specifically for Loughton Town Council for a Band D property remains at £49.18, less than 95p a week for Band D householders. 
Resources and general services committee chairman Stephen Pewsey said: "All residents will welcome the fact that Loughton's precept will not increase in 2016-17, the seventh year in succession that the town council has held the Band D precept increase at zero. 
"Over the past six years the town council has maintained its policy of prudent spending and careful management of its finances while maintaining high levels of service and delivering a steady stream of projects to benefit the town." 
The financial assistance budget, the grant money available to local charities, clubs and voluntary organisations to assist them in their vital work in the community, has been set at £27,500 with a further £8,000 ring-fenced for the Loughton Citizen’s Advice.
The council’s key priorities for 2016-17 include the major refurbishment of the Traps Hill play area by Loughton Library, now scheduled for late spring 2016, and major works to the changing rooms and car park area on Roding Valley Recreation Ground. These works will be funded by the use of reserves built up over recent years for this purpose and through external grant funding.

   

COOPERSALE: Burglars eat children's snacks

5.39pm - 3rd February 2016

BURGLARS ate children's snacks when they broke into Institute Hall in Coopersale and stole charity cash and a camera. 
Thieves broke into the hall, which is being used by a pre-school, in Institute Road by removing a side window between 5pm on Monday and Tuesday morning. 
A three-figure sum of cash from a charity collection for a child with cancer and a camera, used by the pre-school to record activities and memories of the children, were stolen.
The thieves also ate the children's snacks, leaving the wrappers behind. 
A police spokesman said the break-in has caused severe disruption to the pre-school and left children and staff feeling anxious. 
Anyone with any information should ring police in Epping on 101.

   

LOUGHTON: Students take part in dance workshop

8.55am - 3rd February 2016

YEAR 9 students at Debden Park High School, Loughton, took part in a cutting shapes dance workshop - the latest craze in hip hop street dance. 
Dance teacher Lauren Mason said: "This is part of the students' current scheme of work in which they will be assessed on their cutting shapes ability. 
"The Debden Dragons, our KS3 boys dance club, also took part and created a cutting shapes and house routine in preparation for their performance at the RISE dance festival which we hold every year at which other schools come and perform."

   

DISTRICT: Award for handyman Chris

7.39am - 3rd February 2016

THE Handyman Project co-ordinator with Voluntary Action Epping Forest has received an unsung hero award in the Pride of Essex Awards. 
Chris Bullock, from Epping Green, does jobs for tenants of Epping Forest District Council properties who are aged over 60 or disabled who often have no one else to help them. 
Chris does basic jobs like replacing tap washers, flat-pack assembly, fitting curtain rails and putting up shelving. 
He was nominated by a couple who moved to the district in 2013 and asked the council if anyone could help with basic jobs. 
They were referred to the Handyman Service and introduced to Chris. The couple now regard Chris as a personal friend and describe him as “extremely courteous and invaluable.” 
Chris said: “I am genuinely humbled by the nomination. I was really taken back by the incredible efforts nominees had gone to in order to help others, many in the face of their own adversities. 
“The couple are just one example of many whose situation compels me to go even further, often working into the evenings in my own time just to improve their lives. 
"I was the only person nominated who provided a hands-on practical support service which highlights how rare the work we do really is. 
“This award should be shared by all who support the Handyman Service and VAEF as really I’m just the front man. 
"Without this team I wouldn’t have known of their struggles and been able to help them, so thank you from me.”

   

ONGAR: Town councillor resigns

3.37pm - 1st February 2016

AN Ongar town councillor has resigned saying she can "no longer work with a group of councillors who consistently flout the proper procedures laid down for the execution of councils’ business".
Independent councillor Sheila Jackman was in her third term representing the Chipping Ongar ward. 
In her letter of resignation, sent to council chairman James Browning (Ongar Residents' Association) today (Monday), Mrs Jackman wrote: "It is with regret that I have made this decision but I can no longer work with a group of councillors who consistently flout the proper procedures laid down for the execution of councils’ business. 
"The Ongar Residents’ Association councillors were, when appointed, issued with an induction pack covering all aspects of the council’s work and responsibilities but over the months these individuals have ignored even the basic principles. 
"A small group of ORA councillors recently held a working group meeting without ensuring that the clerk / Responsible Financial Officer (RFO) was available to attend and this was contrary to a full council decision. 
"Councillors bring proposals to meetings without the clerk’s knowledge and expect immediate discussion. This is not allowed." 
She added: "Ongar Residents’ Association councillors are obsessed by Jubilee Park which is only one of the facilities provided by the town council for the community. 
"Given the amount of money that the council has had to spend to bring the Jubilee Pavilion up to the standards required it was never expected to make a profit in the early stages of the town council’s management. 
"No other council facilities, eg play areas, allotments, churchyard, cemetery, nature reserve, dog bins, bus shelters etc, are expected to make a profit but are run for the benefit of local residents. 
"ORA councillors have bullied and harassed the staff to the point of making them ill and have shown no respect or acknowledged that staff are experienced in the operation not only of Ongar Town Council but other local councils as well. 
"ORA members should also consider their attitude at meetings which is invariably rude and aggressive and they should remember that the image projected has been noted by members of the public who have expressed their dissatisfaction in no uncertain terms. 
"Ongar does not deserve to have such an ineffective and negative town council and I would prefer not to be associated with it any longer." 
In a statement, council chairman councillor James Browning said: "My colleagues and I were surprised that Mrs Jackman decided to resign after so many years of dedicated service to Ongar Town Council. 
"The Ongar town councillors will be working hard for the people of Ongar and that Mrs Jackman's invaluable experience, words of wisdom and direction will be greatly missed by all. 
"Ongar town councillors and staff wish Mrs Jackman the very best for the future."

   

M11: Roadworks to start next week

7.56am - 1st February 2016

IMPROVEMENT work on the M11, costing £4.7m, begins on Monday, February 8, and will continue until the summer. 
The first phase will involve resurfacing the southbound carriageway at junction 8. 
The work will be carried out from 10pm until 6am and is expected to last two weeks. 
Further embankment and drainage work will take place at junction 8 from February 26. 
Highways England project manager Jennie Fraser said: “This work will improve safety and provide smoother journeys for the thousands of drivers that use these roads each day. 
“We understand this package of schemes will cause some disruption for drivers and we have planned to carry out the work overnight to reduce the impact. 
“We have been working with Stansted Airport about these works but I would urge holiday makers and motorists to plan ahead and allow extra time in case of any delays.”

   

LOUGHTON: Donation to stroke club

7.54am - 1st February 2016

LOUGHTON Stroke Club received a donation from the Haslers Foundation, the Loughton-based accountancy firm's charity, for its New Year lunch.
The Foundation gave money to the club to host its annual celebration which featured a conjurer, games, quizzes and refreshments. 
The club, formed in 1978, provides a welcoming environment for those who have suffered a stroke where they can meet people in a similar situation. It also gives those who care for family members a chance for a couple of hours respite. 
The club meets twice a month at Loughton Baptist Church and offers entertainment, speakers and games. 
Haslers Foundation chairman Jon O’Shea said: “When we heard about Loughton Stroke Club we knew we wanted to help them. They provide an integral service to people who have recently suffered a stroke and they have helped hundreds of people regain their confidence."