Latest News

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 Little 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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Gosfield & Greenstead Green Ward Annual Report 2022

The Annual Report for the Braintree District Ward that includes Little Maplestead has now been issued and can be read here.

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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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2022-26 Essex Carers’ All-Age Strategy 

Carers from across Essex are being asked for their say on a draft All-Age Carers’ Strategy.

There are an estimated 150,000 unpaid carers in Essex who each play a vital role in supporting people across the county to live independently within their own homes and communities.

Whilst rewarding, caring can also be demanding. Children, young people and adults can face many challenges. Maintaining school attendance, employment, social activities and friendships can be hard and that can impact carers’ own physical, emotional and financial wellbeing.

On 14th February 2022 Essex County Council (ECC) announced its proposed six Commitments for its 2022-26 Carers’ All-Age Strategy. These have been developed with input from carers and their many voluntary and community sector support organisations.

Other carers and communities across Essex are now being asked for their views.

ECC’s Commitments to Carers – the Council will:

  • Ensure carers can easily access information, advice, guidance and support when they need it, early into their caring role.
  • Develop professional practices and processes to improve the identification of, and the support for, carers.
  • Improve transitions for carers as they move through specific phases or life events in their caring role.
  • Ensure carers have access to good quality support, including short breaks.
  • Work to ensure carers’ needs and rights will be understood and recognised across Essex communities.
  • Recognise that carers’ expertise should influence, shape and be called on when making decisions that are intended to improve their support and wellbeing.

Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Cllr John Spence, said:

“We have been engaging with carers from across the county to understand how we can improve what we already do and what would make a difference to them in their caring role. This has enabled us to produce our six Commitments and we are now asking for feedback on these from the wider care community.”

Carers of all ages and communities across the county are being invited to have their say – the consultation lasts from the 14th February to 13th March 2022.

The draft Commitments and online survey can be found here.

The feedback received will be used to help shape the final 2022-26 Essex Carers All-Age Strategy, due to be launched in April 2022.

If you require the survey in an alternative format, please contact: essexcarers@essex.gov.uk.

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National Grid: Bramford to Twinstead Reinforcement 

Public Consultation on this major National Grid reinforcement project is taking place between 25th Jan-21st March 2022
Full details of the project and opportunities to provide comments/feedback for the consultation can be found here.
Participation in the consultation may also be made via webinar, video/telephone appointment, via the above website link or by completing a feedback form.
Information about the project is on display in Sible Hedingham & Sudbury libraries.

In addition to the online consultations mentioned above there will also be six face-to-face events taking place from 25th February 2022 where the plans can be seen and discussed:

Public Exhibitions

Venue

Date

Time

Nayland Village Hall

Friday 25th February

10am-6pm

Hadleigh Town Hall

Thursday 3rd March

12pm-8pm

Hintlesham and Chattisham Community Hall

Friday 4th March

10am-4.30pm

Sudbury Masonic Hall

Saturday 5th March

10am-5pm

Appointment only ‘Ask the Experts’ sessions

Venue

Date

Time

Twinstead Village Hall

Thursday 10th March

9am-2pm

Hintlesham and Chattisham Community Hall

Friday 11th March

9am-2pm

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Covid-19 update

Government announces return to Plan A

From January 27th England has returned to Plan A. However, it is recommended that you continue to take appropriate steps to protect yourself and others:

  • Get vaccinated and get your booster dose
  • Consider wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces
  • Let fresh air in if you meet indoors. Meeting outdoors is safer
  • Get tested and self-isolate if required
Visit GOV.UK for more information about the return to Plan A .

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Evolve – a new service to support Essex residents into employment and training 

Essex residents who are unemployed, or whose employment and training prospects have been affected by COVID-19, can now receive one-to-one support thanks to a new service called Evolve.

Evolve provides free and personalised support to residents via an adviser who can help with employment, training and personal development opportunities. The service, funded by Essex County Council and delivered in partnership with Essex Adult Community Learning and Enable East, is available until the end of March 2022.

When facing a career change it can be difficult to know where to start. Evolve offers free information and advice from a team of highly experienced advisers across the county to help residents navigate their way. Advisers can refer residents to local services, social groups, wellbeing and mental health recovery courses and employment and training opportunities.

You can contact the Evolve team by e-mailing evolve@essex.gov.uk to book an appointment with an adviser either over the phone, by video call or in person.

To find out more about Evolve, e-mail evolve@essex.gov.uk

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Library Service Consultation – 20th September 2021

Essex County Council considers the development of its library services to be a priority for the new administration, recognising libraries’ importance not only as places to encourage and support reading and learning but also as social community spaces.

The ambition is to enhance and upgrade the library services to ensure they reflect the needs of local communities. All libraries in Essex will remain open and opportunities for training and upskilling library staff will be a key priority.

The Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr. Louise McKinlay, says: “I want to see libraries at the heart of our communities. That is why we plan to invest in, enhance and protect library services.

“It is important that we engage with residents on the key principles driving this strategy. I would therefore like to hear from those who are current library users and also from people who are not, so that we can better understand what residents want from our libraries”.

To this end, two online discussion sessions took place on Monday 20th September, which enabled residents to talk over their views and ideas directly with Cllr. McKinlay.

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Recycling glass bottles and jars is now much simpler!

Effective immediately, different colours of glass bottles and jars can be mixed when they are put into the glass recycling facility in the Little India car park – clear and coloured bottles or jars can now go into any of the recycling bins…

Glass colour-sorting will be undertaken by BDC’s glass re-processor, so pre-separating bottles and jars by colour and putting them into different recycling bins is no longer necessary.

This change will allow more glass to be recycled by freeing-up unused bottle bank capacity, something that is apparently needed due to an increase in the volume of glass being deposited since last year’s lockdown.

It will also make BDC’s glass collection more efficient – using single-section collector vehicles will allow more glass to be collected every fortnight.

Over the next few weeks the bottle bank will be updated with new bin stickers – but there’s no need to wait, using any recycling bin for any colour glass can start right now!

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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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Proposed Mobile Phone Mast Installation in Little Maplestead.

Mobile phone company Telefónica has entered into an agreement with Vodaphone to jointly operate and manage a single network grid across the UK. These arrangements are being overseen by Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd (Cornerstone) which is a joint venture company.

As part of Telefónica’s continuing network improvement programme, it has identified a specific requirement for improved network coverage in the local area. As a result, Telefónica is in the process of carrying out a pre-planning consultation about installing a radio base station (otherwise known as a mobile phone mast) on land adjacent to Little Lodge Farm. This is because the company has determined that a mast in this location will help to provide a better mobile phone service, particularly in respect of 5G and associated data services, and 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 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.

A number of alternative sites in the local area were considered but were unsuitable for a variety of different reasons. These sites, and the reasons they were discounted, can be viewed here.

Telefónica have advised that any relevant Local Planning Authority records have already been reviewed, Development Plan policies taken into account and the planning history of their chosen site examined. It has also confirmed that its phone mast installations are designed to be fully compliant with public exposure guidelines established by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which also have the support of UK Government, the European Union and the formal backing of the World Health Organisation.

As a part of the pre-planning consultation process the Council considered this at its Annual Parish Council Meeting on Tuesday 18th May and decided to object to the proposed location. Alternative sites for the mast were discussed and one on land owned by the Council has been suggested to Telefónica in the Council's response.

It's acknowledged that, for many in this area, mobile phone coverage is poor to non-existent and that improvements may be welcome. 

Further 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 Great and Lilttle Maplestead Parish Councils, had not been met. The detailed reasons for the refusal can be found in the decision document here.

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Gosfield & Greenstead Green Ward Annual Report 2021

The Annual Report for the Braintree District Ward that includes Little Maplestead has now been issued and can be read 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 BDC, Colchester 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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Public Consultation: North Essex Local Plan. Section 1 Proposed Main Modifications

Braintree District Council, having jointly submitted a Draft Local Plan for examination in 2017 and following recommendations from the Inspector, carried out a focused 6 week consultation of 47 Proposed Main Modifications to the Draft Section 1 Plan in accordance with section 20 (7C) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

Available for consultation were:

• Schedule of the 47 Proposed Main Modifications

• Associated Sustainability Appraisal

• Associated Habitats Regulation Assessment

The consultation related specifically to the Proposed Main Modifications and associated documents. It was not an opportunity to repeat or raise further representations about the published plan or to seek further changes to the plan.

The documents were available at www.braintree.gov.uk/NEAMMS1

The consultation period closed on 9th October 2020.

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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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ECC LogoHave your say on Essex County Council’s budget priorities

Residents and businesses have the opportunity to tell Essex County Council about their priorities for spending in the next financial year through an online budget consultation.

The insights gained from the survey will be used to help inform thinking as the Council develops its spending plans for 2020/21.

Every year ECC spends around £2 billion on essential services for the people of Essex such as social care, highways and education. However for every £1 the County Council received five years ago from government to fund these services, only 37p is received today. More and more people that live in the county are accessing and using ECC services, but costs are also increasing.

Leader of the Council, Cllr David Finch, said: “Our effectiveness as a Council was confirmed last week when for the second year running, Essex was named in the top ten most productive councils by the consultants Impower.

“But year on year, the money we receive from Government has been reducing, meaning that we have to make very important and sometimes difficult decisions on where we spend it, and where we could make savings. We are also affected by factors such as inflation and the National Living Wage in the same way all large employers are.

“That is why we are consulting with residents and local businessesin Essex, to find out what their priorities are. We have already had to make over £370m of savings over the past five years, so it really is important to gather the views and ideas from residents and businesses before the planning process begins.”

The consultation can be accessed here: https://consultations.essex.gov.uk/rci/budget-consultation-2020/

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Local Plan Update

Braintree District’s Local Plan was submitted to the Planning Inspector in October 2017 and public hearings were held in January and May 2018 to consider Section 1 of the Plan.

This Strategic Section 1 Plan is also shared with two other North Essex Authorities, Colchester Borough and Tendring District Councils, and examines policies for local developments in North Essex, including proposals for three new Garden Communities.

In June 2018 the Planning Inspector agreed that 716 homes needed to be built in Braintree District each year until 2033. However, he considered that the Section 1 Plan, as submitted, was not sound and needed significantly more work, particularly in relation to the Garden Communities, which the three NEAs felt were the best solution to protecting existing towns and villages against urban sprawl.

The NEAs agreed to act in concert to carry out the further work required on the evidence base and a sustainability appraisal and then submit their revised strategic proposals for the Inspector’s examination.

In December 2018 a pause in the planning process was announced to enable this work to take place.

During the early part of this year the NEAs undertook another sustainability appraisal, produced more documents for the evidence base and made suggestions for additional Local Plan amendments.

After consideration by BDC these changes were put forward for public consultation before being resubmitted to the Planning Inspector.

The consultation period closed on the 30th September 2019.

Online information on the amendments and changes can be found at www.braintree.gov.uk/NEAtechS1. The same information, together with copies of the consultation documents, was available in local libraries.

After this public consultation a report for the NEAs will be produced, detailing the Inspector’s conclusions and recommendations and including any further modifications required for the Local Plan. Another public consultation will then be needed before the Inspector’s report is completed.

Section 2 of the Local Plan, which only contains site specific policies/allocations for Braintree District, remains with the Planning Inspectorate – it will only be considered once Section 1 has progressed.

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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 here.

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Braintree District Council's Corporate Strategy Consultation

BDCWhat do you think Braintree District Council's priorities should be during the next four years?

It is now consulting on its Corporate Strategy for 2020-2024 and residents have a chance to say what they think its focus should be over the next four years.

It’s important that BDC meets the needs of the district and addresses some of the challenges that communities and businesses are facing; everyone taking part in this consultation will be part of making that happen.

The survey can be found at www.braintree.gov.uk/cs2020-24

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Concessionary Bus Pass Consultation - Park and Ride Services

Essex County Council was consulting on the use of older persons' bus passes on County Council run Park and Ride services in Essex.

It was also consulting on making a reduced charge for people using the disability-based bus pass before 9am on these services.

The consultation period concluded on 31st July 2019.

Please note: neither of these proposals will affect the use of bus passes on normal local bus services.

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Victim Support is looking for volunteers

Victim Support is a charity supporting victims of crime - last year it helped over 3,000 people in Essex and is currently looking to recruit new volunteers to help deliver its service. More details about what's required and who to contact can be found here.

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Parish/District Council Elections – May 2019 

There were only five nominations for the available Parish Council seats, so the the persons whose names appear here are duly elected without a contest.

There were three candidates for the single District Council position: the election result can be found here.

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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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Braintree, Halstead & Witham Citizens Advice

From 14th January 2019 there have been changes to the way in which to contact Citizens Advice - the new arrangements are detailed here.

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DaRT F315 Bus Service - Timetable Changes

Following further customer feedback, there are some more timetable changes to the F315 bus service between Halstead and Sudbury.

Full details of the revised service and the Winter 2018/19 timetable can be found here.

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Proposal for a Parish Room in the grounds of the Round Church

The Parochial Church Council of St John the Baptist, Little Maplestead, is proposing to build a small Parish Room in the grounds of the Round Church. The Church is currently the only building in the village which can be used by the community and, although the Parish is very lucky to have such a wonderful Church, its facilities are very limited.

The main purpose of the proposed Parish Room will be to support the Church’s mission, but it will always be secondary and subservient to the main building, both in appearance and purpose. It is intended to provide a flexible open space that will also be available to the whole community for other Parish events.

Parish Room LocationParish Room ModelThe proposed location of the Parish Room is in the northwest corner of the churchyard, as shown in the diagram (left).

As can be seen from the model photograph (right), the eastern elevation will be glazed to afford a vernacular view of the Church.

The model, and all the draft plans, were put on display in the Church a few days before the Wednesday 19th December Carol Service and remained there for people to see and comment on. A comments box for people to give their views anonymously, in a sealed envelope should they prefer, was available; alternatively, comments can be e-mailed to: roundchurchroom@btinternet.com

The Parochial Church Council invited all residents of Little Maplestead, and Church supporters, to a meeting in the Round Church on Sunday 13th January 2019 at 10.00am to hear more about, and discuss their views on, this proposal.

There was a short presentation and members of the PCC were available to answer parishioners’ questions. Refreshments were provided.

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Essex Library Services Strategy (2019-2024)

Cllr Susan Barker, Cabinet Member for Customer and Corporate Services at Essex County Council, launched a survey to enable Essex residents to help make decisions about the future of Essex Library Services.

ECC recognises that library services play a unique and valued role in society but, in the last five years, library use in Essex has slumped: book loans have almost halved and fewer than one in five residents use libraries. The current service therefore needs to change to fit the way people live now and in the future.

Earlier in the year residents were asked for their views on their library service. As a result, a set of proposals has been developed, which are set out in a five-year plan draft strategy document.

This draft strategy outlines a service that:

•    Keeps books and reading at the heart of the library service offer

•    Embraces digital technology and e-library services

•    Has a smaller number of libraries that better meet community needs

•    Works in partnership with communities to run library services.

Essex County Council need to run a library service that is viable and relevant to people’s lives. The strategy proposals therefore include some significant changes to the current service, which is why ECC are seeking residents’ views.

More information about the proposals can be found at: www.essex.gov.uk/libraries-consultation.

During the consultation period ECC also held information drop-ins at local libraries, providing a further opportunity for residents to ask questions, complete the consultation survey and find out more.

The consultation closed at midnight on Wednesday 20th February 2019.

All the consultation responses will be analysed and the findings published on the consultation website. These will also be available on request for those without internet access. Any proposed changes resulting from the consultation will be considered when the strategy plan is finalised in summer 2019.

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Essex Fire & Rescue Plan

Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex launched a survey asking the people of Essex for their views on the priorities to be included in the county’s first ever Fire and Rescue Plan, which is needed to:

          • ensure that people stay safe
          • reduce the number who are killed or seriously injured
          • minimise the damage to property and businesses.

F&R PlanThe plan is being developed with input from groups and individuals who work in, alongside and with Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. The aim of the survey was to make sure that the priorities being proposed reflect what the people of Essex expect from this service.

The Plan will run from 2019 to 2024 and will be the basis on which the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service will be held to account for its performance. The document will mirror the Police and Crime Plan, which sets the priorities for policing in Essex.

The survey closed at midnight on Tuesday January 15th 2019.

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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 will be 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 any non-urgent enquiries call 101 

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Mid-Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust Planned Merger

Plans are being discussed to merge Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust (MEHT), which includes Broomfield, Braintree Community hospital and St Peter’s in Maldon, with the hospital trusts in Basildon and Southend.

As these plans continue to be firmed up, there is a need to prepare to elect Governors from the Mid-Essex region for what will become the new merged trust; these people will help to ensure that the needs and interests of those living in the area currently covered by MEHT are given due weight.

Governors will be elected by and from those who are registered as members of the MEHT, so the imperative is to maximise membership numbers as quickly as possible. Details about becoming a member of the Trust can be found here and anyone who is interested should also be able to apply to join from the same page – if there are problems, a request can be e-mailed to ft@meht.nhs.net.

All local residents, since they have a direct stake in these planned changes, are eligible to sign up as members. There is no cost and no obligation in doing so, but only MEHT members will be able to vote when the election for Governors takes place.

Nick Alston, Chairman of MEHT, is keen to encourage all residents not only to sign up as members but also, when the time comes – in the early autumn – to consider standing as a Governor of the new merged Trust. More information about a Governor’s role can be found here.

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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, Little 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 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 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 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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Changes to Essex Library Services

As a result of the Public Consultation carried out by Essex County Council at the end of 2017, Library Services across the County have now been rationalised.

This unfortunately means that, as of the 2nd April 2018, the Mobile Library no longer serves Little Maplestead; the average number of customers during its fortnightly visits was latterly fewer than one...

Further details of the Library Service changes can be found 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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CGRCommunity Governance Review

Braintree District Council was required to review the overall governance of all Town and Parish Councils within the District.

The review focused on:

  • The appropriateness of present Town/Parish boundaries
  • The numbers of Town/Parish Councillors
  • Town/Parish Council names and any warding agreements

The consultation has now closed, but you can find out more about the review and view comments at www.braintree.gov.uk/cgr.

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Braintree's 'Tell Me More' Initiative

Tell Me MoreResidents and businesses in Braintree District can now sign up and subscribe to a new e-mail update service on various topics of their choice, ranging from refuse recycling and street cleaning to planning news, health and well-being tips, events, job vacancies or emergency alerts.

There will also be an e-mail newsletter especially for businesses in the district.

 

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Stansted Airport Development Consultation

In advance of submitting a planning application to raise its current passenger numbers cap, Stansted Airport carried out a series of eight Community Consultation Exhibitions between 6th – 19th July 2017. Feedback from these will inform its proposals for future increases in runway use and the effect of this on the wider region.

An initial study of how the future development of Stansted would affect the wider region was laid out in Stansted’s 2015 Sustainable Development Plan, the final version of which can be viewed at www.stanstedairport.com.

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Local Plan Consultation

The latest Draft of the Local Plan Document for North Essex was issued on 16th June 2017. The Public Consultation has now closed, with comments and feedback informing the next stage of the process.

The two-part document can be viewed by clicking on the links below:

  • Section 1 – Strategic Plan for North Essex, including the proposed Garden Communities
  • Section 2 – Policies, maps and sites for development, housing, employment and regeneration within Braintree District

More information, together with downloadable versions of the Local Plan and its appendices, is at: https://www.braintree.gov.uk/publicationdraftlp

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