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The District Council has further information and guidance here, plus support for residents and businesses.
Loughton Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group
This Loughton group connects neighbours to offer practical help during the pandemic, through Facebook and WhatsApp groups. More
Mr Paul Thomson, Superintendent of Epping Forest
Epping Forest has a long tradition of providing public access for recreation and enjoyment, resulting in 4.2 Million visits each year. Moreover, the Forest has always acted as a place of refuge and rejuvenation during challenging times.
During the COVID-19 restrictions, known colloquially as the ‘lockdown’, Epping Forest has again played an important place for people’s wellbeing. The Forest’s trustees have resisted the widespread closures of open spaces instituted by organisations such as the National Trust, Essex County Council and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and has continued to support public access during the 8 weeks of the lockdown period of 23 March – 13 May. Forest Keepers, whose duties include an attested constable role, have worked closely with Local Authorities and Policing partners to explain, educate and encourage the proper observance of the Coronavirus Regulations at Epping Forest. On Police advice, reflecting the great many unnecessary journeys being made by distant visitors to the Forest it was necessary to close the Forest car parks between 10 April and 14 May.
Partly in response to lack of opportunities elsewhere, Epping Forest has seen a substantial increase in visitors from both London Boroughs and surrounding Home Counties. Research by Google™ based on user location preferences suggests that visiting to parks, gardens and beaches has risen by 122-138%. Perhaps more significantly, many visitors have indicated that they have particularly sought Epping Forest’s wide expansive spaces where many feel they could best exercise safely while observing good social distancing. It is therefore likely that Epping Forest has experienced an increase in visiting well above the Google averages. Surveys by City staff are underway to understand this new pattern of visiting.
As the lockdown has eased, Spontaneous Social Gatherings (SSGs) and Unlicensed Music Events (UMEs) have become a new challenge for the Forest with often repeated SSGs at Chingford and Wood Green Golf Courses, Buckhurst Hill Cricket Ground, Bushwood and Capel Road - Wanstead Flats, Highams Park and Queens Green. SSGs are also gathering pace across London with major incidents at Mitcham, Clapham & Tooting Bec Commons together with London Fields across recent weekends. Most SSGs have no link to public house off-sales or TENs licences, as much of the alcohol fuelling the events has been brought to the site by participants. At Queens Green, the Kings Oak Hotel has been extremely responsible in restricting it’s off-sales to between 11am-7pm, often closing earlier, when the hotel’s licence potentially extends to 12midnight.
Wherever possible, a partnership of Essex Police, Metropolitan Police and Epping Forest Keepers are dispersing Epping Forest SSGs/UMEs when they are first reported by residents and visitors. Larger events such as Queens Green are managed by controls on parking capacity, through closures and the red line scheme, together with a high visibility Police presence to manage crowd behaviour. I am pleased to advise that up to 40 parking offences are being enforced each day in High Beach and that the Queens Green SSG. Our colleagues in the District Council have also worked to restrict food and alcohol deliveries to non-residential addresses by third-party delivery companies.
The City Corporation recognises there is a strong desire to restrict the damage being done to the Forest through littering, fouling and fires and to limit the Anti-Social Behaviour which is clearly a concern for many of the Forest’s residents and regular visitors, as well as Epping Forest’s trustees. The events at Queens Green can number up to 500 party goers and therefore the potential for enforcement against widespread contravention of the Health Protection Regulations, Public Order requirements and Byelaws needs to be balanced against the resources available to enforce.. The partners continue to review future options for the management of SSGs/UMEs and the spontaneous nature of the events is expected to diminish as the lockdown is further eased, especially with public houses reopening on the 4 July.
Paul Thomson 02/07/20 Superintendent of Epping Forest
City of London Corporation, Open Spaces - Epping Forest
- Epping Forest
A message from the District Commander, Chief Inspector Ant Alcock, in relation to community concerns regarding High Beech:
"We are very aware of the concerns being voiced regarding High Beech. I am sure people have seen other incidents occurring across the Epping Forest District in recent weeks, and I am grateful for the understanding and support the community are showing our exceptional officers who are working tirelessly to keep everyone safe. I am keen to provide a clear message that Essex Police and partners have been allocating resources to High Beech where demand has allowed, and there has been a sustained presence when it has been achievable and proportionate to do so for several weeks. We will continue to be present this weekend, and not exclusively to address the situation in High Beech, (it is not lost on us that the weather is unlikely to lead to the same level of attendance Today), but because I am very keen to make the District a safe a place as we possibly can. We will do so through a number of means, including tackling those who drive at speeds which endanger the lives of others, seeking out those who are breaking into our homes and, of course, responding to instances of disorder and anti-social behaviour. There will be an opportunity in the coming weeks to communicate with the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, and myself regarding any concerns, for which we will ensure to publish details."
27 June 2020