Xmas 23

Messy Church Dec23


Residents and businesses can now share how they think Essex County Council should prioritise its 2024/25 budget, as part of a new consultation.

Next year, the council will spend over £2 billion on essential services, as well as investment in the county’s infrastructure and future growth. 

The council has a track record of robust financial management, having saved £235m over the past five years.

However, the financial outlook for local authorities in general is highly uncertain. This is in large part due to the significant impacts of high inflation, rising interest rates and the continued pressure of the cost-of-living situation.

With this uncertain outlook in mind, the council is asking residents and businesses for their views on:

  • the big issues it faces and the challenges that lie ahead for Essex
  • the things that concern you and your family
  • where we should focus resources as we work to improve lives across our county

The responses received will be used to inform the delivery of Everyone’s Essex in 2024/25 and beyond.

Councillor Chris Whitbread, the cabinet member responsible for finance, said: “We don’t have all the answers when it comes to addressing the challenges we face locally and nationally. Like many households across Essex, we must also make difficult choices about where we spend our budget and where to make savings.  

“We can learn a lot from our communities and it’s important we create opportunities for people and businesses to help inform our priorities for the coming year. A positive way of doing this is by sharing your views during the consultation.”

The consultation on the county council’s 2024/25 budget is open until Sunday 3 December. It can be completed here:

swordsCllr Peter Schwier AIEMA, Climate Czar, Cabinet Member for Environment, Waste Reduction & Recycling


 Foodbank   For the Christmas shopping list please click here.  

2023 has been a year like no other with Braintree Area Foodbank seeing even more people in food poverty and is experiencing a marked decrease in the number of donations made as everyone feels the pinch in the rising cost of food.  We have spent over £46,000 on food to keep up our stocks of normal food parcels and we can not sustain this.
To enable us to keep supplying our much needed food parcels we are asking people to donate from our Winter shopping list rather than donating Christmas food. 

Thank you, as always, for your continued support.  

Braintree Area Foodbank Ltd


swords       Apply now for 2024 primary school places

Primary school applications are now open for children set to start school in September 2024.

Children are entitled to start primary school in the September after their fourth birthday. Parents and carers of children born between 1 September 2019 and 31 August 2020 need to apply during this window.

Applications can be made from today, Monday 6 November, until the national closing date of Monday 15 January. Parents and carers can apply online at

Applications received after the 15 January deadline will only be considered once all on time applications are determined. This means applying late could reduce your child’s chance of getting a place at their preferred school.

Councillor Tony Ball, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Lifelong Learning and Employability, said: “Starting school for the first time marks an exciting milestone in a child’s life and we want to ensure the application process is as smooth as possible for parents and carers.

“Parents applying on time and using their four preferences will help to ensure their child gets the best possible opportunity of a place at a preferred school for when they start their primary education from September 2024.”

Further information about the admissions process and individual schools can be found at



Thank you very much for all the donations to Braintree Area Foodbank you have made over harvest.    An especial thanks to those church partners and school partners who held harvest festivals.   

Looking ahead, the November Shopping List is below. Foodbanks would like to render themselves unnecessary.  Our aim has always been to run ourselves out of business in ten years... but unfortunately the need for food and other essential items is greater than ever.  As always we appreciate your support.

Nov 23


Essex County Council (ECC) are running a public consultation regarding the future of Recycling Centre bookings from 

Monday, 9 October to Sunday 19th November 2023.  

The consultation website address is  

 This is an opportunity for members of the public to have their say on the current appointment based system and all feedback will be used to help determine whether or not this should become a permanent arrangement.  ECC will publish a summary report of the consultation feedback after the consultation is complete and responses have been analysed.  


London Stansted is hosting a jobs fair to recruit hundreds of new employees ahead of the winter season.

Around 500 job openings will be on offer in the areas such as flight crew, baggage handling, security, retail, and hospitality at the airport's Radisson Blu Hotel on October 10.

Stansted has made the best recovery of any airport in the UK following the pandemic and August was one of its busiest months on record.

The airport and some of its on-site businesses are now looking to recruit staff for the winter, especially for the Christmas peak.

There will be free parking or free travel to the event.

Pre-registration is required, for more information please click HERE  


Foodbank  A message from the project manager

I am reaching out to you myself this month as we approach Harvest Festival. Every year we face different challenges, and we are ever thankful for your continued support to aid us to meet these challenges head on. 

This year we have seen a huge increase in demand for our service and anticipate we will feed more people than we did last year. Last year we fed 9,473 people which is by far our busiest year on record. This calendar year we have had to spend over £40,000 on food and essentials to ensure that our shelves are stocked to be able to deal with this increased demand. Without us spending funds on food and other essentials we would have empty shelves for several of our key items. 
The current cost of living crisis is forcing many people who would have never previously thought of using a Foodbank turn to us in their time of need. 
With your support, we are confident that we will be able to continue to meet the demand for our service in the Braintree District. Harvest is a wonderful time of year to celebrate what we have and what we can be thankful for, whilst thinking of others and giving in whichever way we can. Any donation, no matter how big or small supports us in our mission to ensure that no one has to go hungry. 
Below my email you will find our Harvest Festival Shopping List for 2023 in the form of a poster and a PowerPoint presentation which you may find useful. This presentation details how we work, how we are campaigning to end the need for Foodbanks and what trends we are currently seeing this year. 
As always, we are more than happy to arrange a collection for you with our transport team if transporting your Harvest Festival collection to us is going to be a challenge. If you would like to arrange this please let me know and I will have a look at scheduling something in to suit you. 
If you are a Church, we also have lots of resources that you may find useful including a Harvest service talk guide, bible studies and songs. We also have resources that everyone can take part in, in the form of youth group worksheets, essential costs activities and more. Please let me know if you would like me to discuss this with you further and provide you with these resources free of charge. We can also provide you with a personalised Harvest Festival poster with your date of collection included. 
Thank you as always for taking the time to read our Harvest ask for this year, I hope you have a wonderful few months as we move into the Autumn season. Personally, my favourite time of the year!

Kind Regards,
Lee Ranson - Project Manager
                                                   Harvest Shopping List                                                     Presentation of Braintree Area Foodbank

Garden waste expression of interest

Braintree District Council (BDC) will be introducing the new opt-in subscription service to collect garden waste across the district in March 2024.

You can now register your expression of interest to join the new service.

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. 

The subscription fee from 4 March up to and including 31 March 2025 (13 Months) is £55 however if you sign up by 30 November 2023 you can benefit from a 50% early bird discount, bringing the cost down to just £27.50 which equates to around £1 per collection in the first year. Additional bins are available for an extra charge.   

When can I sign up for the 50% early bird discount?

BDC will let you know when the payment system goes live in a future newsletter, and you can keep an eye on our social media.

To find out more about the new subscription service, answers to some frequently asked questions and to register your expression of interest, please visit the BDC website.

Register your interest


swords   Unfortunately, the number number of children coming into care continues to rise and more foster cares are needed to ensure every child can grow up in a safe, secure and nurturing home.  Could you help? 

Fostering Poster


    Could you spare some time to help?

  shopping list drivers volunteers



Essex residents can sign up for free one-to-one coaching with a qualified coach under a trial scheme run by Essex County Council.

Coaching for financial wellbeing provides the opportunity to access confidential support about  spending behaviours and money management to make small changes that can help you get to where you want to be with your finances.

 The coach works with the client to explore their relationship with money, set financial goals and help boost confidence and skills in managing finances.

 The scheme is aimed at residents who feel ready to make changes to improve their financial wellbeing.

The sessions can be face-to-face or online and can be scheduled at a time which suits the client.

 The coaching scheme is available to parent(s) with a child or children under the age of 18 who have £100 or more income per month after outgoings.

 To be eligible, residents must live one of the following areas: Braintree

 Bumpstead, Gosfield and Greenstead Green, Halstead St Andrew’s, Halstead Trinity, Hedingham, Stour Valley North, Stour Valley South, The Colnes, Three Fields, Yeldham

Councillor Louise McKinlay, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council, said: “We know that with the current financial pressures there are some families that would benefit from additional support with tackling their financial situation. This innovative scheme involves working one-to-one with a skilled coach who can provide the space and time to help residents reflect on their financial situation and feel more confident manging their money in the long-term.”

 The scheme is funded by Essex County Council, working with OLightOn. It is available until 17 April 2024.

 Residents can apply to take part in the scheme at

For more information, email or call 07759 835548.


For the latest information from the Stansted Airport Watch click HERE


Foodbank For the July shopping list please click here.  

Unfortunately the lists are becoming longer and longer and, apart from being difficult to fit on the page (which they are!), they present a sad reflection on the difficulties faced by our clients.  To be brutally frank, we are running through our stocks very rapidly and have been doing so for several months.


Thank you, as always, for your continued support.  


Braintree Area Foodbank Ltd




Essex Library Service has a fantastic new challenge for pre-schoolers happening this summer.

Ready… Steady… Go To School is a fun challenge full of activities which will help your child to practice skills that they’ll need to help them feel confident and be ready to start school in September.

The challenge is running in all Essex libraries until 31 July and will include a range of activities within seven challenge areas. These are:

  • speaking and listening
  • being active
  • personal, social and emotional skills
  • early reading and writing
  • maths and numbers
  • understanding the world
  • express yourself

Children will earn stamps in their special booklet as they go along and receive a certificate once they’ve finished all seven sections.

The challenge is a great way for your child to prepare physically and emotionally for starting school and will provide parents and carers with some top tips and useful information too.

Cllr Louise McKinlay, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Community, Equality, Partnerships and Performance, said: “Starting school is an exciting time for children and parents but it can be a daunting experience too.

“This challenge aims to prepare little ones for when they take that big step through the school gates, by building their confidence as they start to learn what to expect on their first day.”

Visit any Essex library to sign up now and don’t forget to follow @essexlibraries on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, where you can send in pictures of you completing your challenges.

You can find out more information about the challenge on the Essex Library Service website here:

The library service is also running Big School Meet Ups during the May Half Term for children who will be starting school in September. You can find a session near you here:


 Foodbank     For June's shopping list please click here



For the latest information from Stansted Airport Watch please click here


Foodbank     For this months shopping list please click here


 swords     to view the Hedingham Division annual Report 22/23 please click here



Highways Bus Fare Increase on ECC Supported Services 01 April 2023

                                                                             please click here to see more information. 



 Foodbank   For the April shopping list please click here.  

It is understand that, comparing January and February of this year with last year, we have fed 119% more people  in January and February 2023 than in the same months in 2022.   



Temporary Traffic Regulation Order of Harrow Hill, Toppesfield CP

Please click on the following link to find details of the intended closure of Harrow Hill, due to commence on 3rd April 2023 for 6 hours. The closure is required for the safety of the public and workforce while Openreach undertakes pole installation.

Donations to the food bank can be dropped of locally at Toppesfield Community Shop