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Man released on bail over Spruce Hill fire 

9.53am - 18th September 2014

A MAN arrested in connection with a fire at a property in Spruce Hill, Harlow, has been released on police bail.
The incident happened in the early hours of Monday (September 15) when the front door was damaged by fire. 
A 39-year-old man from Harlow, who was arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life, has been released on police bail until December 8 pending further enquiries.

Parents tuck into school dinner 

4.10pm - 16th September 2014

RECEPTION pupils at Freshwaters Primary Academy invited their parents in to school for their first day to enjoy lunch together.
The 45 children, now entitled to free school meals along with Years 1 and 2 under the Government's universal infant free school meal initiative, enjoyed a two-course meal with their families. 
The menu included local butcher's premium sausages with mashed potato and vegetables or salad, followed by chocolate marble cake, fresh fruit or yoghurt. 
School business manager Amanda Forrow said: "It was fantastic to see so many parents have the opportunity to share their child's first experience of a school meal. 
"We hope this gave parents an insight into the expectation pupils become independent at lunchtime - carrying their own tray and using a knife and fork correctly are essential skills pupils need to learn."

Kayleigh, 11, celebrates karate medals 

3.45pm - 16th September 2014

BURNT Mill Academy student Kayleigh Tyler - just four belts off her black belt - scooped gold and silver medals at the United Martial Arts Academy dojo in Croydon. 
Kayleigh had to compete in both kata - a sequence of precise moves - and kumite fighting. 
Kayleigh, a member of the Lea Valley Karate Academy for four years, said: "I train three times a week and have won medals before. I wasn't expecting to come away with medals from this event though as it was mainly training." 
Kayleigh won a gold medal for her kata and took silver in kumite.

Chance for parents to speak on children's health services 

3.06pm - 16th September 2014

PARENTS and carers can discuss how they get the most out of local health and care services at a parent focus group at the Latton Bush Centre, Southern Way, Harlow, between 1pm and 2.30pm on Monday (September 22). 
Parents will be able to discuss the choices they make for their children when they are ill. It will also assist them in making the right choices for their families. 
Members of the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, a doctor, health visitor and community paediatric nurse will be on handt to listen to parents' experiences and provide advice on where to access the most suitable services for their children. 
* The CCG's annual general meeting is at Harlow Leisurezone, Southern Way, Harlow, at 2pm on Thursday, September 25.

Work starts on 'Space to Breathe' garden 

4.04pm - 15th September 2014

WORK is underway to create an outdoor haven for patients and families at St Clare Hospice after supporters helped secure a £49,832 grant from the Big Lottery. 
Thousands of people voted for the Hastingwood-based hospice as part of last November's People's Millions competition in conjunction with ITV, helping the charity scoop the vital funding to turn its vision for a 'Space to Breathe' family garden into a reality. 
Work started last week on transforming an area of the hospice's grounds into a secluded space where patients and their loved ones can spend time together. 
The project, expected to take eight weeks, is being carried out by Harlow-based landscapers The Whitelaw Brothers.
St Clare director of fundraising and marketing Elizabeth Palfreman said: "It is wonderful work has now started on our 'Space to Breathe' garden and we can't wait to see it starting to take shape over the coming weeks. 
"We were thrilled and overwhelmed by the response of our community during the People's Millions competition - polling an incredible 12,403 votes - and we very much feel that without the public's support this important project would not be possible. 
"As well as caring for the physical needs of those with a life-limiting illness, helping to relieve suffering and making them comfortable, we also care for their emotional wellbeing. 
"As such, we know the many therapeutic benefits a garden can bring, so this project will make a very real difference to the lives of those we support and their loved ones." 
The tiered garden, designed by Stansted-based landscape architects Liz Lake Associates, will feature raised flower beds, a calming water feature, seating and wheelchair-friendly paving. 
It will be accessed via the newly renovated family room in the eight-bed in-patient unit.

Witness appeal over attempted arson attack 

3.56pm - 15th September 2014

POLICE in Harlow are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information after the door of a house in Spruce Hill was set alight in an attempted arson attack. 
Firefighters contacted police after they attended the property shortly before 2am this morning (Monday) however the fire was out when they arrived. 
Damage was caused to the door. No-one was injured. 
Police officers are making enquiries to find out a motive for the attack and want to hear from anyone who was in the area and saw suspicious activity or vehicles. 
Anyone who can help should ring Harlow Police Station on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Police appeal after cycle path robbery 

3.54pm - 15th September 2014

POLICE are appealing for witnesses to a robbery on the cycle path between Third Avenue and Abercrombie Way, Harlow. 
The incident happened between 6pm and 6.30pm on Thursday, September 11, when the victim, a local man in his 30s, was approached by three men on bicycles. 
The men pushed him before snatching his red rucksack from his shoulder and riding off. 
The rucksack contained a Samsung camera worth about £300. 
The men are all described as white and aged about 20. One had shoulder length dark hair and was seen wearing a white sleeveless shirt. 
Anyone with information should ring DC Jo Lanz at Harlow CID on 101.

Witness appeal over arson 

4.48pm - 13th September 2014

POLICE are appealing for witnesses following an arson attack in Cannons Brook, Harlow, when cardboard boxes were set on fire, and the blaze spread to a Ford Focus car. 
The incident happened at about 5pm on Thursday (September 11) with the fire causing extensive front end damage to the vehicle. 
Police officers are seeking witnesses to the fire and in particular are keen to speak to a group of boys with bicycles who alerted local residents to the fire and who may have vital information to help with the investigation. 
Anyone with any information should ring Pc James Selwood at Harlow Police Station on 101 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Six men arrested in drugs operation

8.51am - 13th September 2014

SIX men have been arrested on suspicion of being involved in the supply of drugs following a drugs operation at business premises in Nazeing. 
Police officers executed a search warrant at the premises yesterday (Friday). 
One man has been charged and will appear before magistrates in Chelmsford today. 
John Twitchings, 61, of Oak Avenue, Enfield, has been charged with possession of Class B drugs - cannabis (72 kilos), with intent to supply. 
The five other men have been released on police bail while enquiries continue. 
They are a man aged 60, from Harlow; a 43 -year-old man, from Roydon; a 45-year-old man, from Enfield; a 43-year-old man from Nazeing and a 39-year-old man from Harlow. 
They have been bailed until November 26.

Hospice receives Foundation boost

3.30pm - 12th September 2014

ST Clare Hospice has received a £1,000 grant from the Santander Foundation after being nominated by a supporter as thanks for caring for her father. 
The hospice was put forward for the Community Plus cash award by Tracy Begley who filled out a form at the Chelmer Village branch. 
Her dad was supported by the St Clare community team before he died last December while her sister has been receiving bereavement counselling at the hospice since his death.

Hundreds of people attend school open evening

5.04pm - 11th September 2014

HUNDREDS of families attended an open evening at Burnt Mill Academy, Harlow. 
More than 500 welcome packs were handed out and two talks from headteacher Helena Mills were given to packed audiences. 
Children in Years 5 and 6 at local primary schools - as well as older students looking to transfer from other secondary and private schools - tried out practical lessons in science, maths, art and music. 
Miss Mills highlighted the school's GCSE results which saw 86 per cent of students achieving five or more A* to C grades, including English and maths. 
She said: "Those results are because we have outstanding teachers; teachers who I truly believe are the very best in the country." 
Year 6 students will soon be able to submit their application for their chosen secondary schools. 
Pupils at primary schools within the Burnt Mill Co-operative Academy Trust - Freshwaters, Roydon, Little Parndon and Cooks Spinney - will be given places first, along with siblings of existing Burnt Mill students and cared-for children.

Council reveals views on budget priorities

4.57pm - 11th September 2014

HARLOW Council has published the findings from its two-month public consultation on budget priorities as it plans for a future with less money. 
There were two parts to the consultation - 489 surveys from randomly-selected homes were completed. 
A further 540 surveys were completed online and on paper by other residents or groups who wanted to have a say. 
The survey included funding choices for services Harlow Council provides or pays for directly. This included services the council is not legally obliged to provide (discretionary services) and those services it has to provide by law (statutory services). 
The headline findings were: 
* The majority of respondents said they wanted to see the council's services stay the same. 
The council scored each service based on the number of responses it had for ceasing, reducing or increasing service provision (cease was not an option for statutory services). 
Based on the scoring system used: 
* The discretionary services which received the highest scores were parks, playgrounds and green spaces, regeneration of the town and reducing anti-social behaviour. 
* The discretionary services receiving the lowest scores were Harlow Youth Council, sports and leisure, The Playhouse, paddling pools and grants to the voluntary and charity sector. 
* Statutory services which scored the highest were road and pavement repairs (the majority of roads and pavements are owned by Essex County Council however around one-quarter are maintained by Harlow Council), street cleaning and meeting housing need. 
* Statutory services which scored the lowest were Local Council Tax Support, Planning, Licensing and the administration of Revenues and Benefits. 
There were also questions on council tax levels and what residents' priorities are for making Harlow a better place to live. 
The key findings were: 
* Half of respondents from the household survey felt Harlow Council's share of council tax should stay the same, 16 per cent would agree to an increase but around a third (34 per cent) would favour a decrease. 
* Thirty-nine per cent of respondents in the open survey felt Harlow Council's share of council tax should stay the same but the same number (39 per cent) would agree to an increase with just over a fifth (22 per cent) favouring a decrease. 
* The top five areas respondents in both surveys cited as most important or in need of improvement to make Harlow a good place to live are road and pavement repairs, reducing traffic congestion, providing affordable decent housing, local job prospects and the level of crime. 
Residents were also asked for views on services that the council did not currently provide. 
Nearly 400 suggestions were made. 
Topping the list was street lighting (provided by Essex County Council), followed by garden waste collections and youth services. 
The council's Government grant, which funds nearly half (46 per cent) of the council's services, has reduced by nearly 50 per cent from 2011 to 2014-15. 
The current forecasts indicate the situation will worsen with an expected further grant reduction of 16 per cent in 2015-16 and 10 per cent in 2016-17. 
The council has to save £5.3m over the next four years. In 2015-16 the council will need to save £1.3m.
Proposals for the 2015-16 budget will be announced in January as part of the council's normal budget setting process. 
Harlow Council leader Jon Clempner said: "This is the first time the council has run a consultation of this size on such an important issue, and reflects the desire to be open and transparent on the decisions we have to make. 
"We have some challenging decisions ahead of us. Having a picture of what services are the most important to the community will help with those decisions. 
"This consultation is the start of an ongoing conversation with the community about the budget challenges the council faces and the services the council funds for the town and its residents. 
"Now the results are published I'd like the community to provide feedback and comments. 
"I want to be clear that no decisions on the future of any service have yet been made and we will not rush into short-term decisions. 
"We will follow the council's normal budget setting process, taking into account the consultation, the money available to the council, the constraints placed on us on how we spend it, the need for the finances to be sustainable in the medium to long term, and ensuring fairness for all for Harlow's residents. 
"I welcome the fact that residents share my view that they want to see a positive, visible difference to Harlow, in areas such as parks, playgrounds and open spaces, and in street cleaning. 
"While progress has already been made in this area, we will certainly be taking into account these views when setting next year's budget." 
He added: "This consultation has been about the Administration finding out what the community thinks the council should directly provide or fund in the future. 
"We will now take time to consider priorities and will also be thinking about delivering or funding services in different ways, in a way that is sustainable and fair, and reflects as much as is possible the views of residents. 
"There will be much work for the Administration to do in the coming months as it prepares its 2015-16 budget proposals and considers the longer term priorities and financial plans for the council."

Cost of meals-on-wheels to increase

5.09pm - 10th September 2014

ESSEX County Council is to increase the cost of meals-on-wheels by 25p per meal to £4.20 from November. 
The decision comes after public consultation revealed service users did not want to lose the service and believed a full removal of the subsidy would result in the service being unaffordable. 
As a result the council has decided not to remove the subsidy but to increase the cost of meals. 
Councillor Anne Brown, cabinet member with responsibility for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: "The consultation showed us that MoW's customers really valued the service that is offered. I'm delighted we have been able to protect this service allowing older residents across the county to have access to an affordable hot meal. 
"Essex County Council is faced with significant financial pressures and we have had to review the subsidy the council currently pays towards these meals. 
"From November we will reduce the subsidy the council pays resulting in a 25p increase in the cost of meals for service users. 
"I believe this is a manageable increase for service users and ensures our service remains low compared to the private market and other local authorities. 
"Ultimately this is good news for service users and shows we have truly listened to consultation feedback. Meals-on-wheels costs remain extremely low and affordable, and have only increased by 45p in the last seven years."

Accuro charity needs your vote

5.11pm - 8th September 2014

THE Accuro Saturday Play Club has been shortlisted for the Lloyds Bank Community Fund 2014. 
By encouraging the public to vote, Accuro Saturday Play Club has a chance to receive a grant of up to £3,000 from Lloyds Bank to enable it to continue doing good work in the community. 
Accuro Saturday Play Club, part of Accuro (Care Services), the Hastingwood-based charity which provides services for children, young people and adults with disabilities, is based at Dame Bradbury's School in Saffron Walden. 
The club aims to provide opportunities for children and young people aged between six and 16 with a range of disabilities and needs, to engage in constructive and imaginative play within a safe, caring environment. 
The club aims to develop each individual's confidence and self-esteem by increasing their communication, social and life skills through the medium of play. 
Many of the children and young people who access Accuro's Saturday Play Club have communication issues. 
Some are unable to communicate verbally therefore it is necessary to find other ways to communicate with them. In the last 18 months staff at the club, working in partnership with parents, have successfully implement a new communication system for a user using an Apple iPad app. 
The outcome means a young man has been able, for the first time in his life, to make choices in several areas of his life. 
Accuro Saturday Play Club is committed to continue developing functional communication systems for the children and young people attending the club. 
Winning the Lloyds Bank Community Fund would enable Accuro to significantly expand its work in this area. 
For example it could fund a range of equipment which by co-operating with parents and schools, can carefully match the needs of individual children. 
The funding would also enable the charity to provide appropriate training for staff. 
The benefits of such a project would be long term with the user having a communication system that is appropriate for their current needs and which can be adjusted and developed to meet future requirements. 
Accuro chief executive Arthur Steward said: "Communication is so vitally important to all of us that it is easy to see what a huge difference the Lloyds Bank Community Fund could make to children and young people attending our Saturday Play Club. 
"Many of us take for granted being able to easily express our wishes and needs but for some young people with a disability, for whom this is not the case, providing a means by which they can express themselves can frankly be life changing. 
"I would ask you to vote for this project. In so doing you really could help make a significant, lasting difference to the lives of a group of local children with a disability." 
Members of the public can vote for their preferred community group on-line, by text message, via Twitter, or in Lloyds bank branch until October 10. 
The local good cause that receives most votes in each community will receive an award of £3,000, with the other groups receiving £2,000, £1,000 or £500 depending on the votes received. 
For more about the Community Fund and Accuro Saturday Play Club, and to cast your vote, visit the Lloyds Bank Community Fund website www.lloydsbank.com/communityfund

Hospice launches scratch card

10.39am - 8th September 2014

ST Clare Hospice has launched a scratch card as part of the expansion of the St Clare Lottery. 
As part of the launch the Hastingwood-based charity held a 'Bring a £1 to Work Day' for staff and volunteers, with 112 cards sold and 23 cash prizes won. 
St Clare lottery manager Caron Lakey said: "Buying one of our £1 scratch cards is an easy and affordable way to support your local hospice, helping us generate vital income to ensure we can continue providing our incredible care, comfort and support free of charge to local people with a life-limiting illness and their families." 
The scratch cards are on sale at the seven St Clare shops and other selected outlets within the hospice area and will also be available at fundraising events. 
The hospice is inviting local companies to become St Clare Corporate Ambassadors to help promote the scratch cards by organising their own 'Bring a £1 to Work' days. 
In May St Clare introduced a new prize structure for its weekly lottery giving players the chance of winning one of 24 weekly cash jackpots and introducing a new rollover prize of up to £10,000. 
"With better odds than a national lottery, more than 6,700 people play the St Clare Lottery, helping raise over £16,000 each month. 
To sign up for the St Clare Lottery, ring the Lottery team on 01279 773730, email lottery@stclarehospice.org.uk or visit www.stclarehospice.org.uk/hospicelottery.htm

Basketball in the Harvey Centre

12.50pm - 4th September 2014

THE Harlow Hawks basketball team will be at the Harvey Centre this weekend giving shoppers the chance to have a go at the sport. 
Visitors will be able to enjoy a range of demonstrations, kicking off with Under-8s at 11am on Saturday followed by demonstrations from the U11s, Adult Walking Basketball and U17s. 
On Sunday (11am-4.15pm), the U14s and Hawks Girls’ players will have their turn. 
The weekend concludes on Sunday afternoon with two live 3v3 competitions with the Hawks senior team.
There will also be lots of opportunities for members of the public of all ages to practice their shooting and dribbling skills - and battle it out in a public shooting competition. 
Harlow Hawks head coach Shab Niaz said: “We’re really looking forward to being at The Harvey Centre this weekend. 
"Our players of all ages will be showcasing their skills and encouraging shoppers to take part and get involved in basketball.”

Improvements made to recreation areas

10.43am - 2nd September 2014

IMPROVEMENTS have been completed by Harlow Council to several outside free-to-use public recreation areas in the town. 
The surfaces at the council-owned tennis courts at Blackbush Springs, Bush Fair and The Dashes have been repaired and new anti-vandal tennis nets installed. 
Surfaces have also been repaired at multi-use-games-areas at Bush Fair, The Dashes, Foldcroft, Northbrooks and Staple Tye and perimeter fencing has been replaced. 
The money for improvements was allocated from the council's Capital Programme to both improve health and safety at the sites and refurbish facilities to increase sport and play participation. 
The work cost £62,500. 
Youth and Community portfolio holder Emma Toal said: "Harlow has so many open spaces for residents to enjoy but a number of the tennis courts and multi-use-games-areas owned by the council were showing their age.
"This is a major investment by the council to improve free outdoor play areas across the town. 
"It is important we provide facilities and opportunities for families and young people to get active and improve their health and wellbeing.
"The usage of these sites has been low for a long time due to their poor condition. Some of the sites were full of potholes which have now been repaired making it safer and more enjoyable for users."

New Local Policing Team launched

10.43am - 1st September 2014

A NEW Local Policing Team structure for Harlow and the rest of the county is being introduced from today. 
Each of the ten policing districts, under the direction of a local Chief Inspector, has a team of officers responsible for responding to and investigating crime and other community concerns. 
The new Local Policing Teams will work from local stations and operate on a 24/7 basis. 
The changes will move 500 officers to work under the direct control of local police commanders. 
This is made possible by aligning the currently centrally co-ordinated response officers to the local policing teams. 
The reorganisation recognises the importance of local policing, clear accountability to communities and strong understanding local problems. 
A policing 'hub' will operate in each district with each hub, led by a local inspector, and is responsible for maintaining strong community ties and working with partners to tackle local problems. 
The teams will take a particular interest in dealing with issues such as anti-social behaviour, safeguarding repeat and vulnerable victims and tackling drug and alcohol misuse. 
Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh said: "Local policing is at the very heart of how I believe the public want policing delivered in the county. The changes we are making demonstrate our commitment to local policing. 
"The development of local teams, supported by the new policing hubs, recognises the fact that communities want officers with good local knowledge who really understand their local issues. 
"Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) visibly patrolling their beat continues to be a key part of the policing style in Essex. 
"I understand and agree with the importance residents and businesses attach to this local presence."
Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston said: "I welcome the introduction of a new model for local policing which will ensure high levels of local responsibility for responding to and investigating crime and ASB incidents. 
"I'm pleased Essex Police has been consulting widely with local stakeholders about these plans. 
"At the heart of the Police and Crime Plan for Essex is the concept of local solutions for local problems, and I know Chief Constable Kavanagh remains committed to this approach.
"Returning officers to local supervision ensures ongoing ownership of crime and ASB incidents by local officers. 
"I'm delighted that PCSOs remain an integral part of the local policing model. I know how highly they are valued by local communities, and the visible presence they provide through their regular patrol beats is invaluable. 
"Another key element is close working between Essex Police and key partner agencies, such as Community Safety Partnerships, who together can help build a safer Essex. 
"As the local policing model develops, plans for enhanced and focused meetings between local officers and PCSOs and the public they serve will be implemented. 
"I see the opportunity such engagement provides for ensuring local challenges are addressed and resolved over time as a key part of the new local policing model." 
Dedicated domestic abuse investigation teams, code named Op Juno, have also been introduced across the county. 
Specialist officers and staff will oversee all domestic abuse investigations as well as work closely with partner agencies ensuring the best possible support for victims and a robust, co-ordinated response to those responsible. 
The  Harlow Local Policing Team is led by District Commander Chief Inspector Alan Ray.

Views sought on future of The Stow

7.41am - 1st September 2014

RESIDENTS, businesses and community groups are invited to have their say on how The Stow area of Harlow could be improved. 
The Stow is 62 years old and Harlow Council is looking at ways to regenerate and secure investment to improve the area. 
The council is working with Essex Place Services to produce a Design Framework which will help guide improvements. 
A drop-in event for the community to give their views is being held at the Annexe, Moot Hall, The Stow, between 1pm and 7.30pm on Thursday (September 4). 
Further consultations events will be held as plans progress. 
With the recent Aldi supermarket opening it is hoped this will help support and secure further regeneration of the Stow. 
It also highlights the need for a plan to promote and guide further improvements in the neighbourhood centre, ensuring a well-integrated, designed and complementary mix of uses which is sustainable, best meets local community needs, supports business and improves quality of life. 
The study will explore a range of issues, likely to include access, security, future development, links between different parts of the neighbourhood centre, the condition of buildings, and the quality of streets and spaces. 
Harlow Council regeneration and enterprise portfolio holder Tony Durcan said: "The Stow was the first neighbourhood shopping centre in Harlow and will always have an important place in the town's history. Today it is still a vibrant place with many local businesses operating in the area and there is some community activity but we know it could be a better place for local residents. 
"Recent investment with the Aldi development gives us the opportunity to regenerate the Stow and we want to put a plan in place to help make that happen. 
"The first, and most important, phase of this work is get the views of local residents, businesses and community groups so we can start putting options together." 
The views and opinions expressed as part of the consultation will help inform the Design Framework options. 
Views can be made online at www.harlow.gov.uk/spd-the-stow
Completed questionnaires can be handed in at the drop-in event, sent by post or emailed to the council. All comments should be returned by Friday, September 19. 
Once proposals for the Design Framework are put together a formal consultation exercise will be undertaken to gain local opinions and views on the proposed content and preferred options. 
Any comments received will be analysed and a final proposal published. 
The plan will be known as The Stow Neighbourhood Centre Design Framework Supplementary Planning Document.

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