News

Recycling Centre Bookings Made Permanent 

A booking process trialled across recycling centres managed by Essex County Council has been made permanent following positive feedback from residents.

The decision follows a six-week public consultation that saw over 18,000 responses. An independent analysis showed 58% of respondents were in favour of keeping the booking process for cars, while 72% were in favour of keeping it for vans and large vehicles.

The booking process was trialled at nine van-friendly sites in February 2022 before being extended to all recycling centres managed by ECC in March 2023.

Councillor Peter Schwier, Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment, Waste Reduction and Recycling, said: “Efficient waste services play an important role in increasing recycling and reducing waste. The booking process was introduced to smooth service demand throughout the day. Incidents of congestion and queuing have reduced since the trial started. This has made our sites safer and more efficient.”

A full evaluation of the booking trial is available here

To find out more information, or to book a time at your local recycling centre, visit www.loveessex.org/bookings

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Carers Voices Campaign

Healthwatch Essex and Essex County Council have jointly launched Carers Voices, an initiative aimed at connecting with the numerous unpaid carers throughout the county, with the goal of amplifying their voices and enhancing outcomes for them by supporting the empowerment of those individuals who selflessly serve others in our communities. Details of how to get in touch are shown below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Essex CC - Local Bus Service Consultation Decision

Essex County Council’s decision, following a Public Consultation into its strategy for ‘Supported Local Bus Services 2024–2028’, is that the local F315 bus service be recommended for withdrawal, as from July 2024.

The consultation showed there was strong support by residents for local bus services and highlighted the essential role they play in people’s lives. However, in an announcement released early in January, ECC reported that, despite careful consideration being given to comments made by respondents to the survey about the adverse impacts that cessation of the F315 service would have on them and others in the community, the conclusion nonetheless was that it be withdrawn due to low use.

The detailed decision is shown below:

As can be seen, in an attempt to mitigate the adverse impacts, the report suggests replacing F315 with an extension of the existing DART 3 demand-responsive service, which was originally also proposed for withdrawal. ECC’s view is that this will enable bus travel in the area “to be maintained and potentially expanded” and is “considered to be the best way of ensuring the sustainability of the service”. Fortuitously, extending DART 3‘s coverage will also allow ECC to reduce this service’s current high operating costs…

It is understood that DART 3 works on a telephone or e-mail booking system familiar to users of the F315 and the fares are the same. However, unlike the F315 service, there is no operating schedule – it is purely demand-responsive.

Although this allows flexibility, the service apparently will not operate if there is demand from only one passenger. It is not a taxi – it requires a number of people wanting to do similar journeys at similar times.

DART 3’s operating hours are 06.00-20.00 Mondays to Saturdays, so those who are regular users for work or school will hopefully still be catered for – as long as there is sufficient demand.

This is obviously a very disappointing outcome for the local Parishes – particularly as the F315 will be one of only seven of the 150 or so rural bus services currently subsidised by ECC to be withdrawn.

More detailed information on the consultation outcomes can be found at:

https://cmis.essex.gov.uk/essexcmis5/Decisions/tabid/78/ctl/ViewCMIS_DecisionDetails/mid/422/Id/9815/Default.aspx

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Government Provides ECC With Additional £121m For Road Maintenance. 

Essex County Council is to receive an additional £121 million of funding for road repairs and resurfacing between now and 2034, the Government has confirmed.

The funding, which has been re-allocated to Local Authorities across England from the curtailment of the HS2 rail scheme, will ensure repairs to the road network are carried out and will help towards maintaining the condition of roads across the county.

ECC already receives funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) each year, including the additional funding announced in the 2023 March Budget for pothole repairs, which is available this financial year and next. The new funding will ensure there is financial support for road repairs until 2034.

It will allow Essex Highways to repair and resurface priority routes and the most unsafe defects, in line with current strategy.

ECC has already allocated an additional £17.4 million of this year’s budget to its investment in highways – this is currently being spent on additional works across the county that might not otherwise have taken place.

Councillor Tom Cunningham, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways, Infrastructure and Sustainable Transport, said: "By allocating £121 million to Essex, the Government has recognised that well maintained and repaired roads are a priority for Essex residents. This new Government funding will help us continue with the repairs Essex Highways works hard to deliver."

The DfT’s announcement was accompanied by details of its funding allocation, from a total fund of £8 billion for road repairs across England.

ECC’s allocation includes:

  • £30.6 million of existing annual allocation in 2023/24 (highways maintenance block funding, plus Pothole Fund)
  • £7.6 million of additional funding over the next 2 years
  • £121 million of new funding between 2023 and 2034

Further information can be found here.

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Essex County Council’s 2024/25 Budget Plans – Have Your Say

Residents and businesses now have an opportunity to say how they think Essex County Council should prioritise its 2024/25 budget.

Next year, ECC will spend over £2 billion on essential services, as well as investing in the county’s infrastructure and future growth.

ECC has a track record of robust financial management, having saved £235 million over the past five years, but the financial outlook for local authorities in general is highly uncertain. This is largely due to the significant impacts of high inflation, rising interest rates and cost-of-living pressures.

With this in mind, ECC has launched a new consultation on its 2024/25 budget plans, asking residents and businesses for their views on:

  • the big issues it faces and the challenges that lie ahead for Essex
  • the things that concern residents and their families
  • where resources should be focused to improve lives across the county

The responses will be used to inform the delivery of ‘Everyone’s Essex’ in 2024/25 and beyond.

The consultation closed on Sunday 3rd December.

It can be completed here: https://consultations.essex.gov.uk/rci/ecc-budget-consultation-2024-25/.

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Community 360

County-wide Advice Service

A new County-Wide Advice Service for Essex has recently been launched by a consortium, funded by UK Power Networks and provided by Citizens Advice Essex, to help people struggling with their energy bills.

This consortium will provide practical advice and support for those experiencing fuel poverty. People on low incomes, using prepayment meters, in energy debt or simply struggling to pay their energy bills are very likely to be affected, as a consequence of many factors, including the unprecedented increase in energy bills over the last few years.

The Advice Service is designed to initiate the provision of holistic support for those in need to help improve their situation: for example, by identifying and helping secure additional sources of income, ensuring they understand and can access opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of their home, by providing support with regards to energy-related or other debts and by providing practical advice on how to reduce energy consumption.

It also complements Citizen Advice Essex’s other locally-based services, such as specialist housing advice, specialist services for people affected by cancer (funded by Macmillan) or local sources of emergency support.

For more information and confidential advice, call 0808 189 6550

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Recycling Centre Bookings Consultation

A Public Consultation is being carried out by Essex County Council (ECC) regarding the future of Recycling Centre Bookings 

Frequently Asked Questions about Recycling Booking is part of the consultation proposal and survey. The consultation website address is essex.gov.uk/recyclingcentrebookings.

This is an opportunity for you to have a say about the current appointment-based system.

All feedback will be used to help determine whether or not this should become a permanent arrangement. ECC will publish a summary report of the consultation feedback after the consultation is complete and responses have been analysed.

The Consultation closed on 19th November.

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Proposed Mobile Phone Mast Installation - Further Update (Oct 2023).

After discounting a site on land adjacent to Toldish Hall Road as suitable, Telefónica carried out a pre-planning consultation about installing their radio base station (otherwise known as a mobile phone mast) on land adjacent to Little Lodge Farm on the border of Great and Little Maplestead.

The company determined that a mast in this location will help in providing a better mobile phone service, particularly in respect of 5G and associated data services, and also allow the roll-out of smart energy metering access to customers in this area of Braintree District.

The proposed installation comprises a 25m (75ft) mast (10m taller than previously planned) housing 3 antennas, 2 dish antennas, four radio equipment cabinets and an associated meter cabinet within a fenced compound located in the field next to the bridleway at the end of Little Lodge Lane. The location and detailed site plans can be viewed here.

As this new pre-planning consultation still affected residents of Great Maplestead, the Council considered it at its Parish Council Meeting on Wednesday 26th May 2021, where it was decided to support Little Maplestead Parish Council's objection to the location and go with its suggested alternative site.

Update:

The prior approval for planning permission for this mast was refused by Braintree District Council on 22nd September 2021 because certain requirements of the application, which had been highlighted by both Parish Councils, had not been met. The detailed reasons for the refusal can be found in the decision document here.

Further Update (Oct 2023):

Telefónica's agent has now appealed to the Secretary of State following Braintree District Council’s refusal of their prior approval application for planning permission for this mast.

Notification of the appeal can be found here.

All previous submissions and objections regarding this application will be forwarded to the Secretary of State, so there is no need to resubmit them at this time. However, any new evidence will be considered, as outlined in the notification letter.

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Essex CC - Local Bus Service Consultation - Update

Local bus services are very important to many Essex residents and communities, particularly so with regard to the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda. Essex CC undertook a Public Consultation into ‘Supported Local Bus Services 2024–2028’Decision Details: Supporting Local Bus Services - 2024 onwards (essex.gov.uk)

The consultation survey covered three groups of Local Bus Services:

  • The vast majority, where there will be no changes until at least 2028
  • An ‘At Risk’ group, which ECC will support until at least 2026 but where it is looking for an increase in passenger numbers
  • A ‘Low Use’ group, clearly not meeting the needs of their communities and so either facing major changes or complete withdrawal.

The F315 on-demand service between Halstead and Sudbury, that serves many local villages including Great Maplestead, is deemed to be in the ‘Low Use’ group and is proposed for withdrawal:

Bus Service Changes

Loss of this service will have a significant and adverse impact on many parishioners living in Great Maplestead, which is already deemed as being ‘unsustainable through lack of infrastructure’ in BDC’s Local Plan. A consequence of the service’s withdrawal will almost certainly be an increase in the number and frequency of private car journeys being undertaken, which will have an inevitably deleterious effect on air quality and the local environment.

The Public Consultation ran until 5th October 2023

The Council's response to the Consultation can be read here.

A further Council letter, addressed directly to Cllr Lee Scott, Cabinet Member for Highways Maintenance and Sustainable Transport at ECC, expressing concerns about the potential withdrawal of the F315 bus service (particularly in view of the new Government funding of £4.89m/year for the next two years that ECC will receive to help support low-use rural bus services) together with reservations about the suitability of the proposed DigiGo on-demand all-electric bus replacement service, can be read here.

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energy switch

The ECC-backed Essex Energy Switch, a collective energy switching scheme whose pre-approved suppliers provide 100% renewable energy, has been re-introduced from this September.

Residents and small businesses that register for the scheme could make savings by cutting their gas and electricity bills. The approved suppliers bid at auction to determine who can offer the lowest energy tariff. People registered will then receive a personal fixed-price tariff offer from the winning supplier. Potential savings will vary depending on personal factors, such as your current tariff, payment method and consumption.

Any savings – or even if there are no savings – will be clearly explained in your offer. While there is no guarantee that it will be the cheapest, the scheme aims to ensure that most people will be offered a lower annual energy tariff than they are either currently paying or is available to them at the time the offer is made.

Registration – which needs to be done again even if you have registered in previous years – is easy to do either online www.essex.gov.uk/energyswitch or by calling Big Community Switch on 0800 048 8439. You will need a recent energy bill to hand.

There is no obligation to switch supplier after registering and receiving an offer but, if you do decide to switch, your offer provider will undertake the process for you, taking all the hassle out of making the change.

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 Essex Residents Can Benefit From Free Personal Financial Coaching

Essex residents can now sign up for free one-to-one financial coaching with a qualified coach, under a trial scheme being run by Essex County Council.

This new initiative provides an opportunity for people to receive confidential personal support about their spending behaviours and money management, identifying any small changes that could help improve their financial well-being.

The scheme is aimed at those residents who feel ready to make these changes, the coach working individually with each person to explore their relationship with money, set financial goals and help boost their confidence and skills in managing finances.

Coaching sessions can be held face-to-face or online and can be scheduled at a time which best suits each person. The scheme is available to parent(s) who have £100 or more income per month after outgoings and with a child or children under the age of 18.

To be eligible, Braintree District residents must live one of the following areas:


  • Bumpstead
  • Gosfield & Greenstead Green
  • Halstead St Andrew’s
  • Halstead Trinity
  • Hedingham
 
  • Stour Valley North
  • Stour Valley South
  • The Colnes
  • Three Fields
  • Yeldham

Councillor Louise McKinlay, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council, said: “We know that with the current financial pressures there are some families that would benefit from additional support tackling their financial situation. This innovative scheme allows residents to work one-to-one with a skilled coach, who can provide the space and time to help them reflect on their financial situation and feel more confident manging their money in the long-term.”

The scheme is funded by Essex County Council, working with OLightOn. It will be available until 17 April 2024.

Residents can apply to take part at https://forms.office.com/e/cZbH464TZJ.

For more information, e-mail essex@olighton.com or call 07759 835 548

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Playing Field Development Project Wins Lottery Funding! 

The Playing Field Development Working Party is delighted to announce that its £75,000 application to the National Lottery Community Fund, to help deliver the Parish Council’s ambitious Playing Field project, has been successful!

Lottery logoThis sizeable grant, together with the £37,000 already raised through generous personal donations from residents, contributions from village institutions, businesses and various social events, village activities and challenges over the last 18 months, means that this major project for improving and future-proofing a unique, valuable village amenity, can now be delivered successfully, within its originally planned timescale, by Spring 2023.

The new play area will be more imaginatively configured than currently, featuring natural-looking equipment made fromPlay Area Visual sustainable wood that:

-      meets strict sustainability/longevity standards

-      conforms with current best-practice thinking about child play requirements

-      gives play opportunities to a wider range of ages and abilities than currently

-      has a suitably lengthy warranty period

-      is low maintenance/easy to repair

-      has ‘style’, impact and strong visual presence

Perimeter PathwayAs a result, it will become a modern, bold, exciting and attractive focal point for the entire playing field, with a visual appeal that will both be in keeping with and enhance its rural setting.

A new perimeter pathway was a key element of the project: it was required to improve access for people of all abilities to both the play area and the rest of the field’s amenities. The path has been designed such that a ‘lap’ will be 0.2 miles, enabling pupils from the school to do 5 laps as their ‘Mile-a-Day’ challenge.

On behalf of the Parish Council, the Working Party would like to thank sincerely everyone who has organised events, taken part in challenges, donated or otherwise contributed to this amazing project.

The improvements to the playground and the playing field’s facilities will help preserve this valuable village asset in the long term, leaving an enduring legacy for future generations to enjoy for many years to come.

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National Grid: Norwich, Bramford to Tilbury Reinforcement  

Councils in Essex and Suffolk have united to condemn a proposal for a 180km network of 50m tall electricity pylons between Norwich, Bramford and Tilbury.

Essex and Suffolk County Councils passed motions at their Full Council meetings in July, opposing the East Anglia GREEN proposal put forward by National Grid.

Norfolk County Council is expected to consider the motion at its next Full Council meeting, following a planned debate on 19 July 2022 being postponed.

The Councils all agree that the plan for pylons is destructive and out-dated, and will cause irreversible damage to the countryside, wildlife habitats and local communities.

A new electricity network is needed to transmit the ambitious 50 GW of offshore wind that the Government aims to be delivered by 2030 and to connect new projects like Sizewell C to the National Grid.

The Councils fully support the need to generate renewable and low carbon electricity to meet local and national Net Zero ambitions. However, they believe that there are more suitable, sustainable and modern transmission alternatives for the network, such as underground or undersea cable routes around the East Anglian coastline.

The current East Anglia GREEN proposal threatens to have significant, and totally unacceptable, impacts on communities, businesses and cherished landscapes across the three counties, with 50-year old, carbon-heavy, technology being used to deliver a supposedly clean energy solution.

The Councils consider that the offshore and underground alternatives, which would allow clean North Sea and nuclear energy to join the National Grid without the disproportionate impacts of overhead cables, have not been properly investigated and presented.

In formalising their long-standing opposition to the current East Anglia GREEN proposal, the Councils are joining a group of 13 MPs who recently signed a letter criticising the consultation. There is also a growing public petition against the proposal, which already has thousands of signatures.

National Grid completed its East Anglia GREEN non-statutory consultation in June. Later this year a report, containing the key points from the feedback received and explaining the next steps in the process, will be published.

The first statutory consultation took place in early 2023, and an application will be made by the National Grid to the Planning Inspectorate in late 2024.

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ECC Cost of Living Support for Residents

A continued commitment to support residents of Essex with a series of measures to help tackle the cost of living has been set out by Essex County Council.

At a meeting of the Full Council on Tuesday 12 July Leader Cllr Kevin Bentley set out the action the authority has already taken to support residents, while also acknowledging there is more work to do.

Some of the ways the Council is helping families in Essex include:

  • Financial Wellbeing – a series of test and learn projects to enable people to improve their financial wellbeing through positive decisions
  • Holiday Activity Clubs – free holiday clubs during the summer holiday, at least 4 hours per day of fun, nutritional education, at least one meal and mentoring and support for the whole family. This summer 200 clubs will take place across Essex
  • Community Challenge Fund – providing small grants for groups to develop a vision for their local community and take forward projects that will help them to achieve it
  • Social Supermarkets – helping families on low incomes buy food and household essentials at lower prices, beginning in Tendring and Basildon
  • Pedal Power – expanding across Essex to provide bikes to those on low incomes
  • Digital Inclusion Programme – identifying and addressing the drivers of digital exclusion

While ECC remains committed to the goals of its long term Levelling Up strategy, the issues it is looking to address have been exacerbated by the ongoing impacts of inflation and the rising price of essentials.

Residents across the county are feeling the strain, with more than 76,000 Essex households, about 12%, classed as being in fuel poverty; this number expected to rise further. The inflation increase also means pay has also fallen in real terms in the last 12 months.

These issues are having a particularly profound impact on working families, single parent households, women over the age of 65 and young adults aged between 19 and 25 as well as unpaid carers or those who have children with disabilities.

ECC is already doing its bit to help with action through initiatives such as the Council Tax Rebate Scheme, the Household Support Fund, and the Essential Living Fund.

These programmes have supported thousands of vulnerable and struggling residents with cash payments for food, fuel, and essential living costs. This is on top of the support already provided by frontline services in areas like children’s and adult social care.

The County Council has also been working on ways to help people to reduce their energy bills and be more environmental conscious at the same time, through Warm Homes Essex, which provides advice and access to funding for improvements to reduce home energy use.

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The Local Plan: Section 2 Can Be Found Sound

Planning Inspectors have ruled that a blueprint for development in the Braintree District until 2033 can be found legally sound.

The Planning Inspectors - Mr Jameson Bridgewater and Ms Anne Jordan - have now examined Section Two of Braintree’s Local Plan, which includes localised policies and site allocations that can be used for considering planning applications in the district. It also identifies land for economic growth, supporting infrastructure and protecting land for open spaces and community facilities.

The Inspectors' final report comes after the formal examination held in July 2021 and public consultation on the proposed modifications which ended in January 2022.

After scrutinising the Plan and the supporting evidence, hearing from stakeholders and taking into account resident’s comments via the public consultation, the Inspectors' final report concludes that the document can be adopted – subject to and including their recommended modifications – and be found legally compliant and sound, subject to Councillors' approval. The final list of main modifications accompanies the Inspector’s report, but remains largely unchanged from those which were consulted upon.

What happens now?

The Plan will be presented to the Local Plan Sub-Committee on Tuesday, 5 July 2022 for approval. If approved, it will be recommended to Full Council on Monday, 25 July 2022 for final adoption of the whole plan.

Cllr Gabrielle Spray, Cabinet Member for Planning and Infrastructure, said: “I’m pleased we have now received the Inspectors' feedback and we can move ahead with the formal adoption of our Local Plan. If approved, it will put us in the best possible positon to fight against speculative, unsustainable and poorly designed housing developments and give greater certainty to our local communities as to where new developments will be built and the infrastructure and facilities that will accompany them.”

The Planning Inspectors' final report is available to read here.

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Literacy Areas in Essex Libraries 

The first phase in the rollout of Literacy Areas in Essex Libraries has begun, with Sible Hedingham’s dedicated area being the most local to Great Maplestead.

The Literacy Areas are dedicated to nurturing adults’ and children’s love of reading and writing. Each area holds printable take-home resources, covering enhanced literacy topics for beginners of all ages, as well as creative writing prompts.

The areas also have carefully chosen material to support adults’ and children’s literacy, including learning-to-read books, books that support specific needs such as dyslexia, and books that enable parents to help their children with reading and writing.

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Louise McKinlay said: “In April we launched our four-year plan for Essex Libraries and, as part of the plan, we announced literacy support for adults and children in Essex.

“We know that 16% of adults in England have ‘very poor literacy skills’ and around 2% to 6% of children have significant reading difficulties. For adults and children this can lead to low self-esteem as well as an inability to access information. This can adversely affect their life chances.

“The new Literacy Areas will make a real, positive, difference for people that need that extra bit of support. I am so pleased the first areas are now open and I would urge residents to visit and explore what they have to offer."

It is hoped that Literacy Areas will have opened in all 74 libraries in Essex by the end of June 2022.

There is more about ECC’s plans for Essex Libraries here.

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Four-Year Vision for Essex Libraries to become a reality. 

Ambitious plans for a vibrant, modern and sustainable Library Service in Essex is set to become a reality as the ‘Everyone’s Library Service 2022-2026' plan has now been approved by the County Council, marking the next step in an exciting future for the county’s libraries.

Feedback from an 8-week public consultation that took place between November 2021 and January 2022, where thousands of residents shared their views on the initial proposal, was incorporated in the final plan, which can be found at www.essex.gov.uk/everyoneslibrary.

Helping improve literacy, encouraging people to enjoy reading for pleasure and increasing the range of online resources available to users are just some of the plan’s ambitions.

There is also a commitment to keeping all 74 libraries open with investment in training and the upskilling of existing library staff.

The plan also sets out three key aims for the next four years and details how these will be achieved:

Library Service and Literacy

  • Improving literacy for children and adults and creating ‘Literacy Areas’ in every Essex library by the end of June 2022.
  • Supporting children to become school ready.
  • Offering up-to-date and refreshed stock and resources.
  • Delivering a programme of exciting events in the libraries.
  • Upskilling staff and working with volunteers to enhance the service.

Communications and Infrastructure

  • Improving communications with residents so they know what is on offer
  • Working to attract new users.
  • Investing in library spaces so they are vibrant, accessible and flexible.
  • Ensuring the buildings are as ‘green’ as can be.

Supporting Communities and Levelling Up

  • Expanding outreach and community involvement to make sure no one is left behind.
  • Enhancing employability, wellbeing, culture and arts through bringing people together.
  • Encouraging greater footfall, with exciting new activities to attract and welcome new users.

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community, Equality, Partnerships and Performance, Cllr Louise McKinlay said: "This is an important moment for our Library Service and signifies the start of new and exciting opportunities for residents. The ‘Everyone’s Library Service 2022-2026' plan will help create a service that is modern, vibrant and sustainable, with improved access, better facilities and more opportunities for local people.”

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Save Money On Your Energy Bills

In these times of rapidly rising gas, electricity and oil prices the following information and links may help you find ways to reduce your energy bills:

  • Essex Energy Switch

Essex Energy Switch is a scheme you can sign up to and receive cheaper energy tariffs. Register with the energy switch scheme to see if you can save money on your household energy bills.

  • Solar Together Essex

Solar Together Essex is a group-buying scheme that enables Essex residents and businesses to install solar panels at an affordable price. The scheme provides a straightforward and safe way for you to generate your own energy and save money on future energy bills.

Register for Solar Together Essex today and help reduce carbon emissions in your local area.

  • Making energy efficient improvements if your household income is below £30,000

If you're an Essex homeowner with a household income below £30,000, you may be eligible for £10,000 funding to make energy efficient improvements to your home through the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme.

Find out more about the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme.

  • Save more money on your energy bills

Visit Energy Saving Trust to find out how you can save even more money on your energy bills.

  • Oil central heating systems

Even if you're not connected to the mains gas supply, you can still save money on heating oil by joining the Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) community oil buying scheme.

  • Get advice from Warm Homes Essex

You could get help from a specialist energy advisor if you are finding it hard to pay energy bills or have debts with energy suppliers. They might be able to help you get a grant to improve your home's energy efficiency.

Visit Warm Homes Essex or contact the Citizens Advice Warm Homes team on 0300 3033 789.

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New website to help find suitable residential and nursing care homes for older people in Essex

Essex County Council, working in partnership with the NHS, has launched a new website to help people find a suitable care home for themselves or a loved one.

The new website is www.essexcaresearch.org.

Essex Care Search can be used to find residential, nursing, dementia or respite care home vacancies for older people within the county. You can search for vacancies by location, cost, type of care and facilities in the care home.

The site has detailed information on all the homes that are registered, including contact details, CQC ratings and photographs.

Whether you are looking for short term care, longer term care, a central location with specialist room features, or an en-suite bedroom in a home by the coast, Essex Care Search can help you to find a care provider.

Cllr John Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “Enabling residents to have access to a choice of quality care facilities in every part of the county is a key objective for us. We hope this new website will make that access still easier”.

Guidance and an easy step by step video to guide you through the website, can be found here.

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The Local Plan: Section 1 Adopted 

Braintree District Council, at the meeting of its Full Council on Monday 22nd February 2021, formally adopted the Braintree District Local Plan 2013-2033 Section 1 North Essex Authorities Shared Strategic Section 1 Plan.

The Section 1 Plan was prepared jointly by BDCColchester Borough Council and Tendring District Council – the local planning authorities (LPAs) collectively known as the North Essex Authorities (NEAs) – from the first part of each authority’s respective Local Plan.

The Section 1 Plan is designed to:

  • Articulate a spatial portrait of the North Essex area, including its main settlements and strategic infrastructure, as a framework for accommodating future planning growth;
  • Provide a strategic vision for how planning growth in North Essex will be realised;
  • Set strategic objectives and policies for key growth topics;
  • Set out the numbers of additional homes and jobs across the area that will be needed during the period to 2033.

For Braintree the Section 1 Plan includes Policy SP4, which requires a minimum of 14,320 new homes to be built over the period 2013 to 2033, an average of 716 new homes per year. Through Policy SP5, the Section 1 Plan also sets out employment land requirements for Braintree of between 20.9 and 43.3 hectares for the Plan period.

Following examination by an independent Planning Inspector, the Final Report on the Section 1 Plan was received by BDC and the other NEAs on 10th December 2020. This confirmed that, subject to the Inspector’s recommended main modifications, which have been agreed by the Council and incorporated into the adopted document, the Section 1 Plan meets the legal requirements of the national planning system and the tests of soundness contained within national planning policy, allowing it to proceed to formal adoption.

Adoption of the Section 1 Plan by BDC has the effect of replacing, in part, a number of the strategic policies contained within the Braintree District Core Strategy 2011 (adopted September 2011).

The Core Strategy (2011) and Local Plan Review (2005) will be replaced in full once Section 2 of the Local Plan, which contains further specific local policies and proposals applicable to the Braintree District only, is formally adopted.

Section 2 is currently subject to an examination by inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The Section 1 Plan and its appendices, the Sustainability Appraisal (and addendum) and the Planning Inspector’s report are all available to view online at http://www.braintree.gov.uk/

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Notice about the Village Playing Field

Following the illegal trespass by travellers on Saturday 13th June 2020, improving the existing security of the Village Playing Field was a priority that demanded a quick response from the Parish Council, so it consulted with the appropriate authorities, the police, other local councils and the school to ensure the continued future protection of the site. 

On the Sunday morning the Council were already considering various solutions, consulting with and taking advice from experts familiar with the positives and negatives of alternative security arrangements and also looking at some of the more effective measures used in neighbouring parishes. 

As a result the Council, under its COVID-19 Emergency Standing Orders and with the help of a small team of willing volunteers, was able to put into place enhanced security measures for the playing field on Friday 19th June, less than a week after the trespass.

PF 1 PF 2 PF 3 PF 4

Whilst these new security measures were the quickest, most effective interim arrangement to install, they have also been designed – and are intended to remain – a permanent feature. The implementation of these measures does not, however, preclude further security enhancements being investigated, considered or added should that be thought necessary in future. 

In carrying out this action the Council took into full account the need to ensure that parishioners and the school can continue to enjoy unfettered pedestrian and disabled access to the Playing Field, a precious village amenity, whilst the car park remains freely available for use by the school, visitors to the village and the community as a whole.

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Rural Crime

Rural Crime PosterRural crime is on the rise, but you can help Braintree District Council prevent its spread. If you have any information about a rural crime, or have seen something you think is suspicious, you can provide your information - 100% anonymously - to BDC's rural crime hotline, powered by @CrimestoppersUK, by calling 0800 783 0137. Alternatively, you may visit ruralcrimehotline.co.uk and make your report there.

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Extended GP Surgery Hours

It is now possible to get an evening or weekend appointment with a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional at one of six NHS Extended Access Hubs across Essex, including the Elizabeth Courtauld Surgery in Halstead. Further information about where the Extended Access Hubs are located, their opening times and how to book an appointment can be found in the NHS Information Leaflet here.

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Parish Council Maintains Foundation Status

Great Maplestead Parish Council has maintained its Foundation Level status in the Local Council Award Scheme, an accreditation that will remain current for the four-year duration of the next Council - click here to read more

This accolade is a significant endorsement not only of the Council’s best working practices but also of the high standards that it has succeeded in achieving.

The Scheme’s panel were particularly complimentary about the Council’s website, how active the village appears to be and how all their Foundation Level standards were fully met. Their verdict: "This application demonstrated all round competence and professionalism.  No hesitation in recommending renewal of Foundation level.  A comprehensive coverage of village life."

Needless to say, this puts the Council in an excellent position ahead of the forthcoming elections, since anybody becoming a new Councillor can be sure they will be joining a team that delivers properly recognised and effective Parish governance.

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Braintree Council's Community Transport Scheme

Community Transport has been in operation for 20 years and is a service dedicated to providing subsidised transport to non-profit making groups and individuals within Braintree District. It can provide ad hoc, one-off or regular transport using minibuses or cars:

Minibus Scheme for Group Hire

Five fully accessible 12-seater minibuses are available, either with a driver or on a self-drive basis. Annual membership is £25, with a mileage rate of £1.50/mile (the minimum fare is £35). So a local trip of under 20 miles would cost just £35.

Groups can use the service for visits to places of interest (seaside/stately homes), ad hoc/weekly shopping trips, pub lunch outings etc.

Multiple buses may be hired and can be used for trips anywhere in the UK.

Social Car Scheme for Individual Hire

Cars are available with a driver Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 5.00pm. Annual membership is £20, and trips cost £3.50 up to5 miles one way or £7.00 return. The service can be used for access to the local community and services, shopping, keeping health-related doctor or hospital appointments, social outings or visits to friends and family.

Passengers can be taken to and from anywhere within Braintree District – the exceptions are for hospital visits in Chelmsford and Colchester, where a drop-off service only is available.

Dial-A-Ride Scheme for Individual Wheelchair Users

For people who use mobility aids, need to travel in their wheelchair, or cannot get into a car, a specially-equipped minibus with a tail lift and low access steps is available, under similar terms to the Social Car Scheme.

E-mail any questions you may have about the scheme to: community.transport@braintree.gov.uk or telephone: 01376 557 883.

Further details are available at: www.braintree.gov.uk/communitytransport 

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Community Policing Team Changes

A consequence of the formation of Braintree’s Community Policing Team (CPT) in 2015 was a reduction in the number of community officers and a withdrawal of ‘beat officers’ from some local areas.

This means that local residents tend not to know who their local officers are – and the Community Policing Team is, in many cases, a faceless entity.

Since taking charge in February 2018, Inspector Colin Cox’s priorities have been to change how the local police interact with the public, encouraging greater community engagement and increasing the number of Police Officers on the Community Policing Team.

CPT numbers remain small but, in order to give residents the best possible service, Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) have now been allocated specific local areas of responsibility.

This has been done to help officers develop a culture of ownership and pride in their area, so improving their relationship with residents. This change to their way of working will also enable officers quickly to identify, and get an early understanding of, local issues and direct people towards the most suitable agency for the best help.

The local Community Officers with responsibility for the Halstead area, which includes The Maplesteads, are:

PC 3655 Craig Wheeler          e-mail: Craig.Wheeler@essex.pnn.police.uk

PC 2613 Andy Pilgrim            e-mail: Andy.Pilgrim@essex.pnn.police.uk

PC 2457 Paul Norman            e-mail: Paul.Norman@essex.pnn.police.uk

PCSO 70714 John Thorne       e-mail: John.Thorne@essex.pnn.police.uk

PCSO 70955 Joanne Cooper   e-mail: Joanne.Cooper@essex.pnn.police.uk

These officers are the initial points of contact for any community concerns.

The CPT’s e-mail address – BraintreeandUttlesfordCPT@essex.pnn.police.uk – is monitored daily and residents with any questions or concerns can also use it to contact Inspector Cox or members of his team.

And remember: only call 999 for emergencies; for non-urgent enquiries call 101 

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Data Protection – Making Sure Your Information is Safe

With the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into law in May 2018, Great Maplestead Parish Council – as a publically-accountable body which has access to, and makes use of, your personal data – must now seek positive consents for how it uses new data in order to keep in touch.

If you have previously consented to receive information about the Council's activities, regular Meeting Agendas, Minutes, the Maplestead Magna Carta and, exceptionally, any urgent community information, the Council is permitted to continue to send you such information because there is a ‘legitimate interest’ in you continuing to receive it. You may, of course, opt out of receiving any information by advising the Clerk of your change of consent.

Each Parishioner who has not already consented to receiving information from the Council will however need to complete, sign and return a new Data Protection Consent Form, which can be downloaded here, in order to provide the necessary consents required by the GDPR. Completed forms can either be returned to the Clerk electronically or in hard copy form, or you can e-mail your acceptance of the consent form terms to the Clerk.

Full details of how the Council must in future protect and be responsible for any personal data it holds, as well as your improved rights with regard to how they are used, is contained in the Council’s Privacy Notice, which can be read here.

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Illegal Pedlar Activity

Essex Police and Neighbourhood Watch are warning residents about reports of illegal door-to-door salesmen targetting towns across the county. More information about these pedlars is contained here. Anyone suspecting that this activity is happing in their locality is being encouraged to report it to the police by calling 101.

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Essex Village of the Year Competiton 2017

EVotY Award 2017

Great Maplestead won a Merit Award in the 2017 Essex Village of the Year Competition, promoted by the Rural Community Council of Essex.

The Certificate was presented to the Parish Council at the RCCE AGM held at Chelmsford City Racecourse on 5th July 2017.

This is the third year running that the village has won in this competition, having gained a Merit Award in 2015 and a Class Winner's Award in 2016.

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Life-Saving Defibrillator installed at the Village Hall

Great Maplestead Parish Council, with help from a Department of Health funding Defibrillatorprogramme, has acquired a Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) and taken delivery of a Call Push Rescue (CPR) training kit provided by the British Heart Foundation.

Knowledge of the correct use of the defibrillator, and the proper administration of CPR, is essential to successfully help someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest – quick action is the key to survival in such an emergency.

In 2017 the Council organised two, free, Community Training Sessions to enable as many parishioners as possible to become potential life-savers.

If you were unable to attend these training sessions but would like more information about use of the defibrillator and carrying out CPR, please go to: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/how-to-save-a-life/how-to-do-cpr.

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Community Information Leaflet

CI LeafletFollowing discussions with parishioners, the Parish Council has produced this Community Information leaflet, containing details of – and showing how people can access – the different services, amenities and activities provided in, and by, the community. A copy was distributed to every household in the Parish in May 2017. 

The leaflet is a compact, convenient centralised source of information, which it is hoped will be of benefit both to existing residents and newcomers to the village. It also includes details about whom to contact with regard to community help for residents; for information about the availability of more informal assistance we would suggest contacting either of the Church Wardens, or the Parish Clerk. 

For reasons of space, the leaflet – which will be updated as and when there are any major changes to its content – can only highlight some of the Parish’s many services, activities and amenities; more details about all of these, and many others, can be found on this website. 

The Council would welcome any comments/suggestions to help improve the usefulness of future editions.

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Power Cut 105 - A New Number to Call in an Emergency...

Power Cut 105

WHAT IS 105?

105 is a new three-digit number you can call to report or get information about electrical power cuts. You can also call 105 with any welfare concerns related to a power cut, or if you are concerned about the safety of over or underground electricity cables or substations.

105 is free of charge and will put you through to your electricity network operator – you can call 105 from most landlines and mobile phones. Launched in September 2016, 105 is available throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

The website powercut105.com will also provide you with information and direct you to your power network operator.

WHY IS IT BEING INTRODUCED?

People often don’t know who to call to report, or get updates about, power cuts, with many wrongly calling the energy supply companies they pay their bills to.

105 aims to solve this problem, providing you with an easy-to-remember number that will put you straight through to your local electricity network operator. This is particularly important when there is bad weather, as severe storms can cause major disruption to electricity supply to homes and businesses.

105 is just one of the ways you can contact your network operator, who can still be contacted directly either by phone on their 0800 number or via their website – most can be reached through social media too.

WHO IS BEHIND 105?

105 is jointly funded by the electricity network operators, who are the companies that manage and maintain the underground cables, overhead lines and substations that bring electricity into homes and businesses.

There are several electricity network operators – the larger ones each cover a different region within Great Britain. Wherever you live, 105 will put you through to the right network operator.

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Scuppering the Scammers

Fraudsters and other scammers are increasingly targeting vulnerable people by phone or e-mail in their efforts to obtain personal information such as bank and credit card details. Unfortunately, because many of the scams are so plausible, many people fall for them with sometimes devastating consequences. Information about the most common scams, and how to guard against and avoid becoming a victim of them can be found here.

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Dog Walkers can help cut crime...

Essex Police have instigated Dog Watch, an initiative whereby dog walkers can sign up to become the eyes and ears of their community in a bid to reduce local crime. Details can be found here.

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Lost or Stolen Dog?

There have been a number of recent cases of dogs being either lost or, more probably, stolen in the local area. Essex Police have therefore issued some useful guidance and advice on the matter.