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Sep 18 20

Whose front garden is the fairest of all in 2020?

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Sep 9 20

Request for action on fallen York Hill tree

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The fallen tree obstructing the footpath on York Hill Green has become something of a saga with the District Council insisting this is the responsibility of the owner of the property bordering the Green. However action may now be on the way…..

Cllr Bob Jennings is still on the case of the fallen tree across the footpath on York Hill Green (see report in Open Forum from May), demonstrating that patience is a prime requirement for the role of local councillor. He has shared a letter from Stephen Cozens, the District Council Arboriculture Officer, dated 3 August.

Good morning: We have been contacted by Councillor Jennings regarding an overgrowth of vegetation obstructing a footpath to the side of 1 Woodbury Hill, Loughton. As you can see in the photos attached, the vegetation is below 2.5m and does cause obstruction to any pedestrians walking on that pathway. Highway records have confirmed that the obstructing vegetation is an historic boundary feature and the responsibility of the adjacent land owner (1 Woodbury Hill).

As you are aware EFDC (Epping forest district council) do not have any enforcement powers with regards t//o footpaths or the public maintainable Highway, and therefore cannot serve the necessary 154 notices to any property owners. Please can you contact the resident of 1 Woodbury Hill and inform that they have a duty of care when it comes to vegetation and trees on their land, which cause hazard or risk to the surrounding area. The trees may also be under a TPO or within a conservation area, the residents should confirm with the EFDC planning team on ContactTrees@eppingforestdc.gov.uk if such a preservation order is in place, details of what to do next will be provided by the planning team if necessary.

Kind Regards

Stephen Cozens
Arboriculture Officer

In a later post on HillsWatch District Council Tree Officer Robin Hellier states:

Apologies for the delay in reply but the trees you have photographed appear to be privately owned TPOs. I will pass on your concerns to our Grounds Maintenance team, who ensure rights of way are free from obstruction or imminent danger. I will indicate that the works are exempt for safety reasons and ask that they are inspected.

Regards


Robin Hellier Dip. Arb. (R.F.S)
Tree and Landscape Officer
Planning Services
Epping Forest District Council

Sep 8 20

How could this have happened?

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Hills letter to Prince of Wales on ‘out of character’ Woodbury Hill development

The development of the Woodberrie site on Woodbury Hill has been highlighted in a Hills Amenity Society letter to be sent to Prince Charles, famously the scourge of developments he considers “carbuncles”.

The Hills Amenity Society, Loughton, Essex

Heritage property close to Saxon fort under threat – Epping Forest planning application (Ref EFP/3407/16)

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales

Dear Sir,

With knowledge of your interest in and care for our countryside and protected buildings we are writing to seek your advice and assistance in a situation that has arisen concerning one of the properties in a local conservation area.

The area is within Epping Forest and our Hills Amenity Society works throughout the year to protect the very special environment in which we live, the Hills Conservation areas of Loughton, and provides a forum for local residents to voice their views and concerns about relevant issues.

We have contacted the Planning and Enforcement Departments of Epping Forest District Council, our MP, Mrs Eleanor Laing as well as the responsible Secretary of State but have had no response.

The property is situated in the centre of the York Hill conservation area on the corner of Woodbury Hill and Kings Hill, 500 yards from an ancient Saxon fort in Epping Forest. It was an attractive ‘Arts and Crafts’ style locally listed structure surrounded by trees and hedges.

An extension under planning application EFP/3407/16 has been built (which) is extremely high and completely out of character with the surrounding area.

We appreciate that you have an extremely busy life but hope that, through your staff, you may be able to offer some guidance on how to proceed.
Yours Faithfully,

Toby Scrutton


Chairman
The Hills Amenity Society, Loughton

Sep 8 20

Social disruption on York Hill

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As crime figures for July 2020 make all too clear (see chart and link to police figures) the top of York Hill has been a crime hotspot in the Hills this summer, peaking in July with, at this date, figures for August still awaited. In this post are also a letter to Hills Chairman Toby Scrutton from the EFDC Licensing Compliance Officer and comments to HillsWatch from a resident about the problems being encountered during the warm evenings.

Crime figures for Baldwins Hill (2) and York Hill (15) contributed the bulk of the 24 offences for the three Conservation Areas in July 2020. In more detail there were 15 offences at the top of York Hill, 13 of which were anti-social behaviour, one public order and one violent or sexual. Four at the bottom of York Hill included two vehicle crimes, one anti-social and one criminal damage/arson. The three in Queens Road were all anti-social behaviour while just two offences were recorded on Baldwins Hill. View Police statistics here.

Following a meeting of the Hills Amenity Society in July, at which a delegation of residents from around the top of York Hill were invited to put their case, a complaint was lodged by the HAS Committee in the name of chairman Toby Scrutton with EFDC licensing team. Mrs Handan Ibrahim responded.

From: Handan Ibrahim 
Sent: 28 July 2020 10:02
To: Toby Scrutton, Chairman Hills Amenity Society

Dear Mr Scrutton, 

Thank you for submitting your online complaint which was raised by members of Hills Amenity Society,  regarding antisocial behaviour, drug dealing and underage drinking, and social gatherings during COVID 19 at The Gardeners Arms York hill Loughton. Following on from our telephone conversation yesterday, as agreed I am sending you this email to summarise the points we discussed.

I spoke to the licensee of The Gardeners Arms,  Mrs Tracy Roberts regarding the above issues, Mrs Roberts proposed to promote challenge 25  with staff checking IDS at entry to the pub. This is in order to discourage younger clientele entering the pub, I need to stress however that this is not a condition of The Gardeners Arms Licence this is purely a proposal made by the licensee to show compliance and eagerness to resolve the issues raised by residents.

With regards to social gatherings Mrs Roberts advised that she is promoting the following:  only two people to stand at the bar to make orders at any one time, no persons to sit at the bar. People are asked to stay in their bubble. The Licensee is considering increasing outside seating in order to comply with social distancing, which is encouraged by the government. I will ask our Environmental Health Team to engage again with the Mrs Roberts to ensure she understands her responsibilities under the current Covid Regulations.

With regards to groups gathering outside and on the green Mrs Roberts has advised that many of these groups are young people that are not being served at the pub, they are gathering on the green and bringing their own drinks. Mrs Roberts says that after the pub closes her staff check the green area and clean up any bottles or rubbish that is left, even though this is predominately rubbish left by people not being served by the pub.

Finally as you are aware Essex Police were called to Gardeners Arms, Loughton several times Friday and Saturday evening. All the calls were from residents, and the complaints included drug dealing, fighting, anti-social behaviour, and underage drinking . We have been advised by the police that there was little (if nothing) from a licensing perspective as none of the reports could be substantiated.  However, it was clear that the premises was busy with groups inside and outside, and no obvious signs of social distancing. This has been raised with the Licensee (please see above) and as stated I will ask our environmental health team to contact Mrs Roberts to go over social distancing during Covid 19.

To summarise I am aware that residents are deeply concerned about the current antisocial behaviour and mass social gatherings that have been reported to us. However after speaking with the licensee and the licensee agreeing to adhere to the above to minimise and try to stop any future disturbances to residence no further action will be taken at present. However I will continue to monitor the situation going forward. I also advise that residents continue to monitor and either gather evidence themselves or contact our out of hours noise team or the police who will record all  complaints which can be later used if needed for a review of Gardeners Arms Licence.

I have also attached for your information guidance and a review application form if you wish to pursue this matter further going forward.

As a final point I would also like to point out a possible mediation between the residents committee and the licensee of the gardeners arms, I will be happy to initiate this if it’s something the residents would consider doing to help the flow of communication and raising concerns direct with the licensee of The Gardeners Arms.

I trust the above is satisfactory, please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further assistance.

Mrs Handan Ibrahim

Licensing Compliance Officer, Licensing Team, Regulatory Service, Commercial and Regulatory Service Directorate 

The following two contributions to HillsWatch from a local resident describes their experiences at the end of July/beginning of August

“Residents at the top of York Hill, Pump Hill, Wallers Hoppet and Woodbury Hill are very much affected. The loud shouting, screaming and swearing could be a casting meeting for “Eastenders”. One of the good folk living opposite the Green told me they dread forecasts of good weather !
“I …have used an online form on the EFDC website for reporting noise nuisance; if any HAS members or neighbours wish to do the same, it’s quite easy to find and use, and it’s confidential!
And again:
“Since my email to you there have been developements. On Friday 31 July at around 8 pm a lady from EFDC knocked on my door to ask if it was OK to park outside my house (it was) and told me she was going to the Gardeners Arms to investigate complaints. When she returned, she said that in her opinion the noise level was unacceptably high (I told her she should come back at 10 pm) and that there was no enforcement of “social distancing” rules. Shortly after, four Police cars arrived.” 

This resident and several others have commented with regret on the departure of long-term Gardeners’ evening manager Geoff, admired for his efforts to maintain order and especially his famous”swear box”.

One of the actions taken by Gardeners Arms responding to complaints has been to erect a fence along the forecourt boundary
Sep 6 20

Meeting with Chief Forest Ranger – Aug 2020

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Clogged with cars parked on footpaths and verges and with (the one) bin overflowing it’s been a tough time for the residents of Baldwins Hill

This is the report of a meeting held in August 2020 between Marcus Warren, a resident of Baldwins Hill and a member of the Hills Amenity Society Committee, and Martin Whitfield, Chief Forest Ranger employed by the Corporation Of London which owns and manages Epping Forest.  Martin has worked here for 26 years.  

Points raised by residents are italicised and direct questions from local residents are in bold.

  1. Most residents would like to see more bins in the local area (currently there is one bin opposite the green on Baldwins Hill which is regularly overflowing) both for dog waste and for general rubbish (including the small aluminium gas cannisters). This is a constantly recurring theme amongst locals and really does need addressing to stop general rubbish and dog waste bags being left on the ground. I understand that there may be a dual responsibility here because the bins may have to be located on C of L land, but be emptied by council employees.

Martin said that he has worked in the Epping Forest area for 26 years and said that more bins would worsen the litter problem. He said that it makes a focal point out of a particular area, the bins overflow, people put litter by the bins when full and it blows everywhere in the wind. He said that the C Of L did not have the resources to regularly empty the bins too.

He said that local residents could volunteer as local rubbish collectors, the C of L would provide them with bags, a rubbish grabber stick, some labels and a stapler. Once the rubbish is in the bags they can be left somewhere and after a call to the C of L their van would pick up the bags.

2“Not anti-social behaviour related and from a resident in Queens Road: Do the Forest Keeper’s think the condition of Clay Ride is acceptable? Because I really don’t”

The C of L have someone who deals with the state of the bridleways and paths. He has been off for a few months but has just come back. Martin will ask him about plans for Clay Road (Gate 73) and Woodbury Hill bridle path. I did not get a name of the person but will follow up in a week to see what the response was.

3. “It can be lethal down the Clay Path and round Baldwins pond when it is wet underfoot”. During the winter months this pathway becomes like a quagmire and is very slippery, leading to people finding other routes through the nearby forest causing all sorts of additional erosion and damage to vegetation.

I emphasized how muddy Clay Road was during the winter and it caused people to find alternative routes through the trees which was bad for erosion etc. awaiting response (see point 2 above).

4. “Perhaps Woodbury Hill bridle path could also be mentioned. Hasn’t been touched in 20 years and is used by parents taking their children to Staples Road school. Very muddy and slippery when wet and many potholes”.

As per point 2 answer

5. “I wrote to CoL some weeks ago re the cars parking on the forest verges along Baldwins Hill, suggesting that logs might be placed along the edges to prevent this, but no action so far. I’m not convinced the red lines painted on the roads in other parts of the forest have had a direct effect on the number of visitors to Baldwins Hill. It’s the pubs that seem to be the focal points for the crowds meeting up in the forest”. Some local residents have suggested a permit scheme, yellow lines on the road, and as a minimum, the marking of bays on the pavement near the Foresters Arms pub so that only half of the pathway is covered by cars allowing pedestrians and parents with prams access. 

Martin said that the Forest bylaws allow people to park on the Forest land.up to 45 feet from the road. It is only when they damage the land (ie. Create tyre furrows or any other form of damage) that he or his rangers can put a ticket on the vehicle. He said that the C of L therefore not put up barriers or logs. When asked why they did it in High Beach during lockdown, Martin said that this was in response to specific request from the Police due to the Raves and large gatherings of people. The red lines that have been put on the roads in High Beach are for a period of 18 months and will be reviewed thereafter.

By putting parking bays marked out on the pathway near to Foresters, Martin said that he would have to look to see where the C of L boundary was bordering that of EFDC. He said that marked bays would involve consultation with C of L and if the council wanted to widen that part of the road near to Foresters and put in some parking bays then that would involve C of L giving permission (this was just an idea that I mooted with him to allow easier traffic flow and room for pedestrians to walk past parked cars which can sometimes be difficult.

6. On areas of the Forest (Ash Green and opposite the Foresters pub) could some barriers or even just logs be laid on the grass to discourage cars from parking on the forest land. This causes track furrows when it is wet and causes unnecessary erosion to the land.

Unlikely due to byelaws allowing people to park on forest land up to 45 feet from roadside.

7.“LRA Cllr Chris Pond tells me he met the Highways officers re bridlepaths 13 and 14 (Woodbury Hill) only last week Re. the Clay Road, Chris says that the CofL may have to surface that one with hoggin etc if and when they use it as a lorry route to repair/reconstruct the Baldwins Hill Pond dam”.

Martin was unaware of the plans to surface the Clay Road and use it as an access through to Epping Road. He aid that the repair to Baldwins pond dam was part of the “100 year plan” and was simply a precautionary plan that in the event of a massive flood ( a potential very rare 100 year event), could Baldwins dam withstand the pressure. In his view this was not a priority.

8. Drug dealing in Baldwins Hill near to No.2 Baldwins and other locations in the Forest. This seems to come in fits and starts, but there was a request that perhaps we could have a couple of cameras put up to monitor traffic flow and speeds, and also to discourage fly tipping and this antisocial behaviour ?

This is not something covered by C of L but should be raised with EFDC and / or the Police.

9. Noise from Fireworks and antisocial playing of loud music at Forestside – A local resident has complained three times of people letting off fireworks/bangers, but has had no response. I believe that this is on C of L land.

If the noise was created on Forest land then the C of L should be contacted. If not then the noise abatement department at EFDC.

10. Speed at which cars are travelling, especially along Baldwins Hill – Numerous residents have complained that it is only a matter of time before someone gets badly injured or worse. Some residents have suggested a variety of options including speed bumps, chicanes to slow the cars, cameras etc. I believe that this point in particular falls outside your remit but your comments would be appreciated. 

Not his remit. Speak to EFDC or Police.

11. It has been noted by a number of residents that bicycles in the Forest can appear out of nowhere at a tremendous speed. This will cause an accident soon, either to a person or to an animal. Is there any way that the C of L can put up signs or warnings that cyclists should have a bell and should not travel at excessive speed especially when their line of vision is restricted?

The C of L is looking at various different means to curtail the speed of bikes. He would not expand but said that plans are being considered.

12. Some animals have been taken ill after swimming in Goldings Pond. Are the ponds tested for poisonous algae ?

No they are not. Apparently the Forest byelaws forbids dogs from swimming in the ponds anyway !! There are 164 permanent and seasonal ponds in the Forest. The algae that is poisonous is not permanent and can come and go so it is very difficult to provide protection against it. The Environment Agency website keeps a track of any bodies of water that have poisonous Algae and members of the public can update it.

Finally, I mentioned that the Hills Amenity would like to initiate a quarterly or twice yearly meeting with all of the these bodies (Cof L, EFDC, Police, Highways etc) and local residents in order to provide the latter with an opportunity to meet their local representatives so as to allay their concerns and to encourage their participation as stakeholders in maintaining the beautiful surroundings of Epping Forest. 

My thoughts were that if we could get a local Councillor (possibly Chris Pond), and some of the other parties that have responsibility for the local area (Police, EFDC etc.) in one room together (possibly the Community centre at St. Johns church), the HAS Could promote the event, thereby raising our profile and encouraging more local resident participation. Martin said that he would definitely attend such an event. What are the views of other Committee members ?

May 18 20

Listen to Hills Councillor Forum and AGM – 13 May 20

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Some 50 of us joined up on Zoom on 13 May 2020 for the best-attended AGM organised by the Hills Amenity Society for many years featuring a Hills Councillor Forum. Submitted questions formed the basis of introductory remarks by each of the five Hills resident councillors on our panel.

The panel of Councillors at the Hills Councillor Forum on 13 May. From left Cllr Chris Pond, Cllr Robert Jennings, Cllr Michael Owen, Cllr Robert Jennings and Cllr Judith Jennings

Click to hear
Cllr Chris Pond Cllr Caroline Pond Cllr M Owen Cllr R Jennings Cllr J Jennings
and for question time CLICK HERE and the AGM CLICK HERE

Please note the recordings are available on Dropbox. You may be asked to provide an email address, then click Web View. The use should be free of charge.

Cllr Judith Jennings opened with comments on back to school for Staples Road School, parking problems on School Green and the project she has led to secure school run parking slots in the Traps Hill car park. Cllr Robert Jennings described some of the wide ranging issues he has dealt with recently – from domestic abuse to….blocked drains. Cllr Michael Owen, a resident of Baldwins Hill, discussed some of the issues raised about speeding and the potential for closure of Baldwins Hill to prevent through traffic. Cllr Caroline Pond addressed the importance of reinstatement work to hedges, verges and road surfaces once the major development project at Woodberrie in Woodbury Hill was completed and multi storey development fears for council-owned Centric Parade on the High Road and Cllr Chris Pond, who serves on all three Town, District and County Councils dealt with…everything else. He fielded most of the subsequent questions raised by those on the screen on topics covering street lighting, in particular the two-year wait for the new lamp on the corner of Queens Road to be completed, varying types of new LED lighting, missing and unsafe lamps, speeding controls, double red lining of five and half miles of roads through the forest and the impact of the Special Area status recently conferred on the area around the forest which is delaying many applications.

The meeting was chaired by Toby Scrutton, chair of the Hills Amenity Society, who introduced the Councillor Forum and thanked the five participants most sincerely as well as all those who took the trouble to take part

May 11 20

HAS AGM 13 May 2020 Agenda and Accounts

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Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the Hills Amenity Society will be held on Wednesday 13 May 2020 at 7.30pm on Zoom

1 Apologies for absence

2. Chairman’s report:

3. Treasurer’s Report and Adoption of Accounts for 2019-20 

4. Election of Officers

The current officers and Committee Members are:

Chairman: Toby Scrutton

Hon. Treasurer: Peter Wynn

Hon. Secretary: Vacant

Committee: Stephen Cohen, Wendy Fisher, Brenda Harris, Ian Locks, Parag Shah, Kevin Little, Sarah Little, Marcus Warren,

Nominations have been invited but none received.  

6. Any other business notified on advance of the meeting: None received.

The meeting will be followed by the Hills Councillor Forum to which we will welcome 

Cllr Judy Jennings, Cllr Bob Jennings, Cllr Michael Owen, Cllr Chris Pond, Cllr Caroline Pond

Forum questions have been submitted on a number of topics including

Street lighting; Hedges/trees/verges: who is responsible? eg Woodbury Hill

Dam at west end of Baldwins Hill pond: any more info on disruption to residents

Rubbish and litter

Blocked Drains

Quindici Garden, bottom of York Hill 

Speeding – Is there a special case for Baldwins Hill? Proposal to shut off the road between Ash Green and Baldwins Hill forest slope

Parking on and around School Green and arrangements for school run parking at Traps Hill car park

Back to school arrangements at Staples Road

Planning issues including position on Special Area status?

Double red lining on roads around the forest

Income from subs, donations and newsletter ads for 2019/20 was £475, a decrease since last year due to less subs receipts and ad/sponsorship income.

However, expenditure was somewhat less than the previous year there being no fees for web hosting and web domain renewal which was covered for 2 years by last year’s payment and no cost for printing AGM publicity materials which were produced by a committee member.

Following our proposal last year it is now possible for sub donation payments to be made online to:-

Sort code 20-52-74 Account no. 73459152 Name Hills Amenity Society

Please use your surname and 1st line of address as reference

A copy of the accounts will be available on the website.

Peter Wynn Hon. Treasurer

Apr 16 20

Good news on Staples Road School parking

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Good news for Staples Road School parents and local residents for when schools get back to normality. Epping Forest council have worked with the school and others to provide 30 Traps Hill car parking spaces for parents dropping off and collecting their children.

This will hopefully give parents somewhere helpful to park, whilst reducing congestion and parking issues that locals will be all too aware of. We have our fingers crossed it will allow school green to recover from the relentless mud churning due to off-road parking. And if it goes well it should also means drop offs and pickups can be quicker for parents.

The Hills Committee welcomes the scheme and will be watching closely to see if it helps the situation once school resumes.

Councillor Judy Jennings, central to the plans, said before schools were shut:  ‘I am very pleased that this scheme will start soon after Easter and my grateful thanks to Jane Harvey, Head of Staples Road School who has had many meetings to enable the scheme to get underway. 

‘It will enable our children to make their journey to school breathing fresh, clean air, free from pollution and from the threat of traffic on the roads.

‘I am sure that parents and children will take up the scheme with enthusiasm as a way to safeguard and protect children on their way to and from Staples Road School.’

Apr 14 20

Hills ‘virtual’ Councillor Forum and AGM – Wednesday 13 May at 7.30pm

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To take part please email hillsamenitysociety@gmail.com or call 07710099343

Apr 14 20

Hills Amenity Society Subscription Renewals

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Please click here to renew your subscription