2023 news roundup

Read below the latest news and information from Contact magazine 2023.

Download Contact Magazine 2023

Decorative thumbnail image for Contact magazine September 2023

Contact Magazine – September 2023


  1. Coping with the cost of living
  2. Your garden waste collection is changing to a subscription only service
  3. Community meet up events for Ukrainian guests and sponsors a “prime example of the community support and spirit”
  4. Young entrepreneur secures top grant for new business venture
  5. Safer Streets
  6. Delivering high-quality, sustainable homes
  7. Wethersfield Asylum Accommodation Centre
  8. Go Green
  9. Love our high streets
  10. Modern business park attracts investment and jobs
  11. Love to Ride
  12. Representing Braintree District Council
  13. Shaping the future
  14. Initiatives to better connect communities in rural Braintree
  15. News roundup

Coping with the cost of living

Are you concerned about the rising cost of living? Perhaps you’re confused by bills and household costs. A Multiply course can help boost your maths skills so you are more confident when:

  • creating a household budget
  • finding an energy supplier
  • understanding and challenging bills
  • comparing the price of food and other household goods
  • deciding between bank accounts


If you’re in debt and struggling, do not go through it alone. There are many debt advice and management resources out there who can help you find a viable solution such as Citizens Advice, StepChange and National Debtline.

Are you claiming all the benefits you’re entitled to?

It’s worth checking online if you could be eligible for any help. We have collated lots of information on what help is out there here: www.braintree.gov.uk/costofliving

Supporting our residents with the £1 million cost of living fund

We know the past few years have been really tough for our residents battling with the cost of living crisis. We have shared advice and information on ways to save money and manage debt, including our Ease the Squeeze booklet and cost of living webpage. Therefore, when we received the £1m New Homes Bonus, we knew we needed to invest this in supporting Braintree District residents through the cost of living crisis.

The fund will be spent over two years and will focus on three objectives:

  1. Helping to provide food security and access to essentials for people across the district including rural areas
  2. Support community groups with their existing incredible work to help the most vulnerable in our district
  3. Support people to access leisure activities and sports clubs, especially young people, to maintain their health and wellbeing

We have already provided Braintree Area Foodbank, which has centres in Braintree, Witham, Halstead, Sible Hedingham and Great Notley, with £98,951 to develop its offer to Braintree district residents and to make sure those in most need receive the support.

Braintree Area Foodbank

We want to make sure that no one in our local community has to go hungry, but we need your help to make this happen.

Find out how you can help: www.braintreearea.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/

Need help?

If you need help from our foodbank there are a few simple steps to follow. Check on the website www.braintreearea.foodbank.org.uk or phone 01376 330694 or info@braintreearea.foodbank.org.uk Find out more: www.braintree.gov.uk/costofliving.

Back to top

Your garden waste collection is changing to a subscription only service

We will be charging for the collection of garden waste from March 2024. If you wish to continue receiving a garden waste collection in 2024/25, you will need to opt-in to the new subscription service and pay the full year’s subscription charge. An early bird discount of 50% will be in place for those who sign up before 30 November 2023.

Why are charges being introduced?

Like many local authorities up and down the country, we are feeling the impact of the economic downturn and, with less funding from central government, budgets are under considerable pressure. We have had to make some difficult decisions to make sure that essential services are maintained. Garden waste is a discretionary service and we are keen to maintain it, however the only way this can be achieved is to recover the cost of the collections.

How much will the service cost?

For the first year, the full subscription fee for a single wheeled bin is £55. However, you can take advantage of a half-price early bird discount if you sign up to the service by 30 November 2023. This will reduce the price to £27.50 for 13 months (March 2024 to March 2025). If you already have a green bin, you can continue to use it when you subscribe. For new, replacement or additional bins, a £34 one-time charge will apply per bin. The full subscription fee for second and subsequent bins in 2024/25 is £27.50 each.

How will the service operate?

Collections will be every fortnight throughout the year apart from the week before and the week after Christmas, compared to the current service which is suspended for 3 months over the winter period.

Can all households sign up for garden waste collections?

If you don’t currently receive a garden waste collection you may not be able to sign up for the service. If you would like to check please contact recycling@braintree.gov.uk

Will households on black sack collections be eligible for the garden waste subscription service?

Good news, yes. If you sign up to the service you will need to purchase biodegradable sacks from us to use for garden waste collections. No other type of sacks can be accepted. The price will be £8 per roll of 20 sacks including delivery and collection. Or you can buy them for half-price if you sign up by 30 November 2023 (discount applies to max. 4 rolls of sacks).

How will the crews know I have signed up?

Once you have signed up, in the first year you will receive a sticker to apply to your green bin to show you have subscribed. Our crews will also use their hand held devices so that they know who is eligible to receive a collection service.

What can I put in my green garden waste bin/biodegradable sacks?

Grass cuttings, shrubs, plants, branches, weeds, leaves, windfall fruit, cut flowers and house plants

What can’t I put in my green garden waste bin/biodegradable sacks?

Plastic, cardboard or cans, flower pots, soil/mud/hardcore/gravel, food waste, treated wood and pet waste

How to sign up

To sign up for the service go to www.braintree.gov.uk/gardenwastesubscription and complete the required form.

What are the alternatives?

Compost at home

You could buy a discounted compost bin from Love Essex and compost your garden waste at home. It is great for the environment, and will create soil improver you can use in your garden. Love Essex also offers a free online composting course. www.loveessex.org/composting

Take it to your nearest Essex County Council’s Recycling Centre

To find out your nearest location and to book a slot visit: www.loveessex.org. There is no charge to take garden waste to these recycling centres. Find out more and to sign up to the service: www.braintree.gov.uk/gardenwastesubscription 

Back to top

Community meet up events for Ukrainian guests and sponsors a “prime example of the community support and spirit”

Janice Gregory, a resident from Braintree, opened up her home to Ukrainian guest Olga back in May 2022 and has been living with her ever since.

They both started attending the council’s free monthly community meet ups in 2022 for sponsors and guests and said how beneficial they have found them. English language classes have also been provided, run by Ukrainian speaking volunteers, to support guests to understand everyday English language.

Janice said: “The Ukraine meet ups and English classes run by Braintree District Council have really helped - everyone is able to use the opportunity to meet and chat. It is a prime example of the community support and spirit in our area – the guests love the meet ups. They bring their own Ukrainian dishes to enjoy and I like to see Olga happy.”

Olga said: “At the coffee mornings I get to get together with many Ukrainian people who are friends for life. We often meet on all the Ukrainian holidays, which we did on Ukrainian Independence Day.”

The events, which are running until the end of the year, give guests and sponsors the opportunity to meet and talk to others, share experiences, and learn about local services available to them. Themed events have been held to mark occasions such as Christmas and most recently Ukrainian Independence Day.

People in the Braintree district have given refuge to over 150 Ukrainians and we cannot thank you enough for all the community has done.

Could you offer a room in your home? Sponsors will receive monthly thank you payments.

Find out more and register your interest today: www.gov.uk/register-interest-homes-ukraine www.braintree.gov.uk/ukraine 

Back to top

Young entrepreneur secures top grant for new business venture

Shelby Calver, from Braintree, opened Clippin Gorgeous, a professional dog grooming business, with the help of a £3,000 grant from our Young Entrepreneur Programme.

The new business in Silver End offers full grooms, bath and blow-dries, nail clipping, ultrasonic teeth cleaning as well as a general health check.

The shop also stocks pet supplies such as natural dog treats and enrichment toys.

Launching a new business is challenging and this initiative is a way of removing some of the barriers which may hinder young people from taking that initial step. The money from this particular grant went towards the purchase of dog grooming equipment as well as paying rental costs for the first few months.

Other budding young entrepreneurs should visit www.braintree.gov.uk/yep for full details of the fund. www.clippingorgeous.co.uk 

Back to top

Safer Streets

In partnership with the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner’s Office for Essex (PFCC), we successfully secured £297,202 of Safer Streets funding from the Home Office with an additional £150,506 match funded by various Community Safety organisations.

The Safer Streets programme is focusing on key areas in Witham and aims to improve people’s perception of safety.

The programme has a primary focus on reducing Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG), neighbourhood crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB).

Here are just some of the initiatives we have put in place:

Free Self Defence Classes Fusion Lifestyle has been running free self-defence courses at Witham Leisure Centre as part of the Safer Streets programme aimed at women and girls.

Dog Day

In April, over 200 people attended the one-off ‘Dog Day’ on Guithavon Green in Witham. Over 50 people signed up to the Dog Watch scheme, providing growing network of dog walkers and owners to communicate with police and report concerns such as graffiti, drug dealing or suspicious activity, nuisance vehicles and speeding, antisocial behaviour, fly tipping, dog fouling, hare coursing and more.

Spot it Stop It

In July, Witham businesses and organisations working with children and young people were invited to attend free training from Braintree District Council on the Spot It Stop It scheme, which provides information to spot the signs of exploitation

Community Safety Impact Night

In April, officers from Braintree District Council, Essex Police and Open Road carried out a Community Safety Impact Night in Witham. The team spoke to people enjoying a night out and staff at licensed premises to gain an understanding of their perceptions of safety. Free anti-spiking kits were given out which included reusable glass covers, reusable bottle covers and spiking test strips.

Crimestoppers Zones

Crimestoppers Zone signs have been installed at various locations around Witham train station and the town centre. 10,000 Crimestoppers leaflets have been delivered to Witham households to promote the charity. Essex Police also delivered Crimestoppers posters to Witham businesses. 

Back to top

Delivering high-quality, sustainable homes

Ensuring residents have access to safe and affordable homes and can thrive within healthy and sustainable communities is crucial.

It’s a key focus of our Healthy Housing Strategy which we invited residents to comment on earlier this year.

It guides our approach to housing over the next 5 years and how the council will work with partners to tackle the challenges we face and how it will support the current and future housing offer for those in the Braintree district.

If you’re a homeowner and you are interested in renting your property, you can make an enquiry through our dedicated e-mail address property2let@braintree.gov.uk

If you’re a homeowner with an empty property and not sure what to do, you can speak to our dedicated team for free advice and information: emptyhomes@braintree.gov.uk

If you are in need of extra help towards your housing costs and receive housing benefit currently, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment: www.braintree.gov.uk/ discretionaryhousingpayment

Preventing homelessness

We work alongside our partners including the charity CHESS and put our resources into supporting those at risk of homelessness in our district. We aim to:

  • help rough sleepers off the streets and moving into suitable accommodation
  • assess their short and long-term needs
  • prevent them from re-entering the system

Empty Homes

Later this year we will be consulting on our new Homelessness and Rough Sleeping strategy, which will focus on how we prevent homelessness moving forward.

Braintree District Council work with local partners including First Stop, Hope House, New Direction (Salvation Army), Sanctuary, Braintree Foyer (SAHA), Peabody, ACT, Nacro and Chess Rough Sleeper Initiative (RSI), offering assistance to rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping in the district.

If you become aware of someone sleeping rough you can visit www.streetlink.org.uk to make an alert and outreach workers from Chess RSI will attend.

Latest updates and information

If you’re a landlord, sign up to receive our free landlord email newsletter:

Back to top

Wethersfield Asylum Accommodation Centre

In March 2023, the Immigration Minister announced the Home Office’s intention to use the RAF Wethersfield site to house up to 1,700 asylum seekers.

Since the announcement we have shared our strong view that RAF Wethersfield is an unsuitable site, given the lack of capacity in local services, its isolated location, the size of the site and impact the scale of the development could have on the local community.

We have been doing all we can through legal routes to prevent the plans from going ahead, challenging the Home Office on various grounds.

The current legal proceedings do not stop the Home Office from housing people on site.

The first cohort arrived in July and the Home Office plan to use a phased approach to moving people on site. We are working closely with local authorities, health, police and fire services to ensure there is minimal impact on residents that live nearby and local services, raising our questions and concerns with the Home Office so it can put in place mitigating action, whilst supporting asylum seekers coming to our district.

We have been insisting that they engage proactively with the community and will continue to use all opportunities to push for regular, open and transparent engagement.

Visit: www.braintree.gov.uk/wethersfieldairfield for Braintree District Council updates.

The Home Office has advised people can contact them by emailing public.enquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk

Back to top

Go Green

20 ways to cut carbon and save money

It isn’t just good for the environment, it is also good for your wallet.

  1. Explore solar energy options such as solar panels and outdoor lights
  2. Consider going car-free or switching to an electric vehicle
  3. Change how you travel. Opt for fewer flights, use public transport and cycle
  4. Utilise a water butt to save money on watering plants
  5. Turn off your engine while idle to save money and protect health
  6. Replace traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights
  7. Keep fridge coils clean for optimal efficiency
  8. Utilise cycle to work schemes and car sharing initiatives
  9. Buy fewer items and consider purchasing second-hand products
  10. Choose unpackaged food and switch to bar soap, shampoo and condition to avoid unnecessary packaging
  11. Decrease meat consumption as it is costly and contributes to climate change
  12. Buy seasonal and local fruits and vegetables
  13. Minimise the use of tumble dryers and opt for line drying
  14. Reduce reliance on plastic by using reusable coffee cups, water bottles and bags
  15. Transform food waste into compost for your garden
  16. Invest in a well-insulated and energy-efficient home for long-term savings
  17. Power down and unplug electrical appliances when not in use
  18. Cook from scratch to save money and minimise waste
  19. Reduce food waste and only buy what you need to. Plan meals, use a shopping list.
  20. Substitute paper towels and wipes with reusable cloths

Back to top

Love our high streets

What’s happening in our high streets

This year Halstead and Witham town centres will benefit from a series of refurbishments and infrastructure upgrades in a regeneration project funded by Braintree District Council.

Improvements will include street furniture and street lighting, new cycle parking, road signage as well as replacement or maintenance of litter bins, benches and bollards.

The scheme to pedestrianise Braintree town centre has created a safer, flexible, traffic-free public space to improve the visitor experience for residents and businesses.

It’s allowed for more benches, new trees, more electricity points for market stall holders, as well as creating more space for the traditional and street markets and it has given businesses the chance to make better use of the outside space.

Visit Braintree District – Focus on our town centres

The Braintree district benefits from bustling market towns and beautiful rural villages. We have picked out just some of the excellent independent businesses thriving in our towns. If you have a business you would like us to feature on our Visit Braintree District social media channels let us know via marketing@braintree.gov.uk

Evans Gifts and Interiors

Evans is a much-loved shop in Halstead, stocking beautiful homeware, fashion and gifts so you can find the perfect present for yourself or someone else!

The Phoenix

The Phoenix sits at the top of Bank Street in Braintree and is a combination of café, deli and bar. This hidden gem serves delicious locally sourced breakfasts, a range of hot or cold lunch dishes and hand crafted cocktails accompanied with snacks in the evening every Friday & Saturday. They also have a range of community offerings and events!

The Little Book Café

Just off the main high street in Halstead, The Little Book Café sits on Hedingham Road and is a great spot to enjoy coffee and cake or a spot of brunch. You can also browse, borrow and buy their huge selection of books that are displayed. There is terrace seating available out the back which is dog friendly.

Blast Music and Comics

Whether you’re crazy about comics or mad about music – Blast has a wide and varied collection of comics, manga, vinyls, collectables, t-shirts, games and more in Braintree.

Bakehouse Express

Whether you’re picking up a coffee on your way to work or catching up with a friend, Bakehouse Express on Newland Street in Witham delivers an extensive coffee and drinks menu as well as tempting selection of baked treats”

Crafty Bear Kitchen

Built on the following it gained from its afternoon tea delivery service born in lockdown, the team has now taken the plunge and opened their first premises – a family-run tea room and crafting café in Witham.

Back to top

Modern business park attracts investment and jobs

Horizon 120, our new business, innovation and logistics park is attracting investment, businesses and jobs.

Situated just off the A131 in Great Notley, the 65-acre business park offers state-of-the- art, flexible and sustainable business accommodation within extensively landscaped grounds.

Our investment into the infrastructure and our work with partners has created a future-proofed environment which attracts businesses, fosters innovation and ultimately drives economic growth.

Several well-established and innovative businesses have recently opened for business and are now operating from their new premises at the business park.

An enterprise and innovation centre, home to a community of entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses, has also opened in support of innovation and business growth.

Significant investment from oversees has also seen the completion of several light industrial units suitable for medium-sized businesses looking to expand and scale-up operations.

The knock-on effect of this investment and growth is the creation of hundreds of jobs and opportunities for residents.

Emmeline joined our co-working community at The Plaza a few months ago. She works for Profitable Sites, an online advertising specialist which focuses on helping companies grow using Google Ads and SEO.

She said: “We’re going through a period of growth, taking on more staff, which is one of the reasons why we moved into this co-working space.

“We’re currently a team of three and find we get more done when we’re together. We’ve only been here a few months and we’ve noticed the difference already. We enjoy the laugh, hubbub and buzz and we miss that interaction when working from home.”

Back to top

Love to Ride

Ride a bike this September and you could win a £4,000 holiday, plus lots of other prizes thanks to Love to Ride.

Cycle September is a fun, free and friendly biking challenge for you, your friends and co-workers. You can rise anywhere, anytime in September to participate.

To find our more visit: www.lovetoride.net

There are so many benefits to taking part! Such as:

  • Helping to support a happier, healthier planet
  • Doing something great for your physical and mental health
  • A chance at winning amazing prizes including a £4,000 holiday!

Safer, Greener, Healthier Braintree

Did you know that Braintree has a high reliance on car use, with car ownership – at 83% - higher than the regional or national average.

Walking, cycling or using public transport for a short journey just twice a week could see a reduction of 50,000 car journeys from within the town.

Take part in a survey on walking and cycling networks. Have your say www.bit.ly/3DXYxUr - closes 29 September2023.

Back to top

Representing Braintree District Council

Braintree District Council’s Chairman for 2023-34 is Councillor Diana Garrod.

As Chairman of the Council, Cllr Garrod represents the council at official events and when meeting residents, community groups and businesses.

Her chosen charity to raise funds for during her civic year is The Salvation Army. The charity began in 1865 and continues to offer practical help for people without discrimination, standing up for those who are vulnerable and fighting against injustice. They have a donation centre in Braintree.

She is supported by Cllr Lyn Walters who is Vice-Chairman.

Any organisations, community groups or businesses that would like to invite the Chairman to attend an event should visit www.braintree.gov.uk/invitethechairman

Back to top

Shaping the future

Thank you to everyone who took part in our survey to help shape the future of the Braintree district and our priorities over the next four years.

The survey launched in July and closed on 1 September. Over the next few months, we will be looking through your thoughts on living and working in the district and what is important to you.

We also asked for your ideas on how we can manage long-term budget pressures and challenges, something all local authorities are facing at a level never experienced before.

Spiralling inflation and years of government underfunding alongside extra demand on services is putting councils against a backdrop of financial challenges. This means we are having to make some difficult budget divisions to stabilise our financial position.

Your feedback will play a crucial role in helping ensure we continue to deliver the essential services our residents and businesses rely on.

Back to top

Initiatives to better connect communities in rural Braintree

A series of new initiatives to strengthen communities and tackle social isolation and loneliness will go ahead in rural Braintree as part of the Levelling Up agenda.

Rural Braintree is one of Essex County Council's six priority areas. Residents in rural areas can face more difficulties accessing jobs, services and social opportunities compared with more densely populated parts of the county.

Cllr Graham Butland, Leader of Braintree District Council, said: “ Levelling Up gives us opportunities to work together better and change the way we do things, so it’s great that discussions have now begun for us, as a partnership, to look at the wider opportunities for the Braintree District.

“One of our priorities is to listen and understand the key issues affecting our rural communities.”

Back to top

News roundup

A new ‘Forget Me Not’ Memorial Garden at Bocking Cemetery

The tranquil setting will provide a peaceful and pleasant place for relatives and visitors of all ages to remember their loved ones.

The garden includes a children’s area with hand carved wooden sculptures by locally based Andrew Butcher and a willow dome created by local artist Deb Hart, that visitors can tie a coloured ribbon to in memory of their loved ones. Local school children from Bocking Primary School have painted cobble stones and a hand carved wood entrance sign was donated by Cressing Community Shed.

The garden was funded by Braintree District Council and Section 106 money which is money from local housing developments.

Affordable homes delivered

288 new affordable homes were completed during 2022-23 across the Braintree district. Affordable housing is built by registered social landlords, housing associations, private landlords and developers, however Braintree District Council works closely with these organisations to ensure local housing needs are met.

As the Braintree district continues to grow, Braintree District Council requires developers to provide between 30-40% of new homes on major housing developments to be affordable housing.

Bocking Windmill open days

Bocking Windmill regularly holds open days for you to visit.

Sadly it’s not a working windmill, although much of the original machinery is still in place.

Discover some of its fascinating history at its open days on:

  • Sunday 24th September 2023 (11am to 3pm)
  • Sunday 8th October 2023 (11am to 3pm)

Please note that dates and times are subject to change so please check Facebook and the Bocking Windmill website before you set off.

New climate change app

Help tackle climate change by downloading Essex County Council’s Carbon Cutting Essex app. You can learn how to reduce your carbon footprint through a series of fun activities, quizzes and videos. It provides hundreds of practical and cost-effective ideas on how to minimise our impact on the planet.

The app is free to download on the App Store or Google Play so download it today.

Published: 8th September 2023