Highams Park Forum
A group of local people all interested in the betterment of life in their area.

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Looking up: An old oak tree putting
on leaf near the lake

 

 

 

 

 


 

HIGHAMS PARK FORUM

 

Minutes of meeting Monday 23rd January 2017 (Approved)

 

 

Present:

Trevor Calver, Cllr Tony Bell, Cllr Paul Braham, Ian Thomson, Gordon Turpin, Graham Reeve, Mark Herring, Nicolas Haines, Anne Haines, Oliver Shykles, Mike Payne, Jeff Beaton

Apologies:

Mary Dunhill, Cllr Sheree Rackham, Cllr Tim James, Cllr Marion Fitzgerald, Steve Webb, Oona Kelly, Robert Tatam, David Roper, Mary Wilson, Roger Torode

 

1)         Welcomes & Introductions

Oliver Shykles chaired the meeting.  Mike Payne took the minutes.

 

2)         Matters arising from minutes of meeting 5th December 2016

There were no matters arising.

 

3)         Bus routes

The meeting wished to explore the following:

·         How are routes allocated and reviewed?

·         How are changes requested?

·         What evidence of demand is required?

·         What changes would we like (e.g. direct link to Whipps Cross Hospital) ?

 

Roger Torode was unable to attend the meeting but, having worked in this area at TfL, emailed (via MP) as follows:

 

"I have spoken to a former colleague who is in the Bus Planning area to update my understanding.

 

The way to request changes is by contacting TfL Customer Services.  They do deal with requests, it lodges a customer need in the system, and it will be taken account of in the regular reviews.  It is also valuable to raise it with Councillors because there is regular liaison between Councils and the TfL service planning teams.  These changes can often be built into an area review which is carried out regularly.

 

However, he stresses that it is difficult to meet every journey need with one bus route and the emphasis, for heavy traffic flows, tends to be for journeys to and from the shops and schools/workplaces - journeys which many people make every day, rather than occasionally.  Beyond that, the aim is to ensure that people can reach destinations with two buses, where both services operate frequently.  For example, from Highams Park to Whipps Cross, taking the W16 to the Lea Bridge Road you can change to the W15 which runs right through the hospital grounds.  Both routes operate a good frequency (which a special bus might not be able to) and there is no additional cost to someone with a Freedom Pass, Travelcard, Bus Pass or using the new Hopper bus fare which Sadiq Kahn introduced."

 

Councillors present referred to meetings between the council and TfL which occur occasionally to discuss such matters and are referred to as "Bus Summits".

 

RTo (by phone to MP) explained that TfL use Oyster card statistics to examine journey patterns and can see when large numbers of journeys are taking place between two points using multiple buses (or trains).  They will thus be able to detect the demand for a direct route.  Unfortunately, passengers unable (or unwilling) to use multiple buses may use other means (e.g. taxi or own car) and will not appear in such statistics.  Obtaining these "missing" statistics may prove difficult.  For example, it would be a very community minded taxi firm that helped campaign to have one of its popular routes replaced by a bus.

 

In the consultation organised by The Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) large numbers of residents requested a direct route to Whipps Cross Hospital and HPPG took it to the council's Transport Liaison Committee at which TfL are represented.  These meetings take place 3 times a year and are open to the public.

 

TC noted that these mechanisms do work and gave a specific example of a new bus service introduced in Chingford following it being championed by a ward councillor.

 

4)         Hall Farm Curve update

This item relates to the long-time proposed reinstatement of rail link between Highams Park and Stratford via a short piece of disused track known as "The Hall Farm Curve".

A petition was recently started on the website "change.org" entitled: "For the mayor of London to reopen the disused train line from Chingford to Stratford".  This petition attracted over 3000 supporters and resulted in a detailed response from London Mayor Sadiq Kahn on 6th January 2017.  Although the response will not encourage those campaigning for the link, it does set out very clearly the practical issues and obstacles. The response is reproduced below:

 

Transport for London (TfL) supports the principle of improving connectivity between Waltham Forest and Stratford.  Reinstating the Hall Farm Curve is one possible means to achieve this by reintroducing services from Chingford to Stratford.  However, platform capacity at Stratford makes this option difficult and expensive in practice.  There is limited space for the construction of additional platforms at Stratford and these would cost in the region of £400m due to acquisition of nonrailway land and the need to bridge over existing rail infrastructure to reach the site.

 

The new Stratford to Angel Road (STAR) service, from the Meridian Water development at Angel Road via Tottenham Hale, will use up all remaining platform capacity at Stratford station.  Once introduced, STAR services will provide a convenient alternative route for customers travelling between Walthamstow Central and Stratford, via a change at Tottenham Hale.  Customers who previously travelled by bus between the Chingford / Walthamstow Central areas and Stratford can also already benefit from a reduced journey time by rail via the Hackney Interchange.  This connection between Hackney Downs and Hackney Central stations, which opened last year, has improved connectivity between the London Overground Chingford branch and Stratford, a journey which now takes just 30 minutes. By comparison, a bus journey between Walthamstow Central and Stratford currently takes up to 50 minutes.  Other rail improvements already introduced or in progress that will benefit the Waltham Forest area include:

 

-          On the London Overground route between Chingford and Liverpool Street, new higher capacity trains will start to be introduced from late 2018.

-          On London Underground all Victoria line trains now call at Walthamstow Central. The line operates 34 trains per hour during peak hours which is the highest in the UK.  This is an increase on the previous timetable where a number of trains started and terminated at Seven Sisters.  Future upgrades may increase the service frequency further to 36 trains per hour.

-          New Elizabeth line services to/from Abbey Wood in December 2018 will improve connectivity and reduce journey times between the Chingford route and Canary Wharf through a new interchange at Liverpool Street.

Any additional train services on the Chingford branch via Hall Farm Curve would have an adverse impact on level crossing closure times at Highams Park, and on traffic in the wider area.

 

Unfortunately, TfL has no funding for the reinstatement of Hall Farm Curve, and Network Rail has not included the scheme in its choices for funding for the next financial settlement period.

 

5)         Adopting Phone Boxes for other uses

A Forum member drew the meeting's attention to a scheme operated by British Telecom whereby communities can adopt a classic red phone box for £1 and put it to a good use (e.g. Little Library, Defibrillator station, mini-shop, WiFi hub).  Unfortunately attendees were unable to identify any remaining BT boxes in Highams Park.  They noted that there is a single, unattractive, non-BT box (in the Avenue near the station) and this scruffy example was regarded as "street clutter" and ideally should be removed.

 

GT noted that there are about 6 BT phone stands (rather than full boxes) in Highams Park and the HPPG has created a list.  GT agreed to copy the list to OS & MP.

 

6)         River walk bricks

As part of the Mini Holland project, "River Walk" has been widened and resurfaced.  This is the footpath and cycle way between Winchester Road and Beech Hall Road (under the railway, by the River Ching).

 

Prior to the current works, the path had been brick paved.  The current works have replaced the bricks with tarmac and local residents have been concerned because they have been told by workers that the bricks are going to be "thrown away".

 

Approaches by OS for the Forum have led to a reassurance that the bricks will be stored and reused.


 

7)         Planning & Development

a)    Redevelopment of Naseberry Court medical centre (on Larkshall Road) to residential

This item was discussed at the last Forum meeting.  It relates to a planning application (dated 31st October) to develop the site of Naseberry Court medical centre (on Larkshall Road).  This is planning ref 163572 and proposes the development of 48 residential units of various sizes.

 

It was agreed that the Forum should monitor this.

 

Since the last Forum meeting, no decision has been noted against the application on the LBWF Planning Web Pages and it has not been placed on a Planning Committee agenda.

 

b)    Proposed development at 70 The Avenue, opening onto Castle Avenue

This item was discussed at the previous Forum meetings and relates to a proposal to demolish half a semi-detached garage and create a small residential property on a very constrained plot at the bottom of a garden in The Avenue.  The plot would open onto Castle Avenue.  The development would be problematic for a number of reasons discussed at previous meetings.

 

The planning application has reference 161280 and the application date was 30th November 2016.

 

Since the last Forum meeting, no decision has been noted against the application on the LBWF Planning Web Pages and it has not been placed on a Planning Committee agenda.

 

Cllr Fitzgerald has written to planning officers asking them to refer the application to Planning Committee if officers are minded to approve it.

 

c)    Development at 271-275 Hale End Road

This item was discussed at the previous Forum meetings.  This building, a former care home for the elderly, has changed ownership and some internal works have taken place.  Council officers emailed the developer at the end of October 2016 to request that they "submit a regularising application for the internal alterations done in breach of a conditional planning permission that was granted some years back for the Care Home."

 

An organisation known as "Support and Provide" states that it plans to use the facility as a high quality residential environment for children diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Condition from the age of 11 years old and respite care & short breaks to young people aged 18-24 years old.

 

The Forum is not aware of any new activity in respect of this building.

 

d)    Works begun on previously unlet unit on Tesco development

OS has noticed some internal fit out works in one of the unlet units attached to Tesco and fronting Larkshall Road.  As yet he has been unable to determine the planned use.

 

8)         Brief Updates:

a)    HP Plan update

GT, chair of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) gave a brief update on some of the large number of initiatives being pursued by the group:

·         The Plan is now ready for consultation and this will become the focus in the coming months.

·         The organisation will hold its AGM on 16th February at 7:30pm in All Saints Church, updating members on progress and plans.  All welcome.

·         More light balls are planned for the shopping area.

·         Regular meetings of the "Snedders" (old term for forestry work) continue to take place by the lake and the cumulative effort is getting widespread appreciation.

·         Making good progress on bringing the building in the park back into community use (see item 8b below).

·         The group continues to work with council officers to increase usage of the library (see item 8c below)

·         A large number of events have been scheduled for 2017, many of which have been arranged by the HPPG.  These are summarised in the table below:


 

Date

Event

Venue

Organisers

Friday

31 March

An Evening with Jazz pianist Keith Nichols (Rag Time & Traditional Jazz) 

All Saints Church

Halex Concert Society

(part of HPPG)

Saturday

22 April

Love Hale End Library Day & Vintage Market

Hale End Library & The Station Car Park

The Highams Park Planning Group

Sunday

21 May

Spring Festival

The Highams Park (by the Lake)

The Friends of Highams Park

Friday

23 June

Big Band Night with The Ongom Big Band

All Saints Church

Halex Concert Society

(part of HPPG)

Saturday

15 July

Highams Park Day

Vincent Green (Vincent Road)

The Highams Park Society

Friday

8 September

Last Night of The Proms

All Saints Church

Halex Concert Society

(part of HPPG)

Sunday

10 September

Picnic in The Park

The Highams Park (by the Lake)

The Friends of Highams Park

Friday

17 November

Soul & Motown Night with The Chapman Brothers

All Saints Church

Halex Concert Society

(part of HPPG)

Sunday

17 December

Highams Park Christmas Fayre

Signal Walk & Station Car Park

The Highams Park Planning Group

 

These have all been included on the What's On page of the Forum website where more details will be added as they become available.  View via this link: www.highamsparkforum.co.uk/whatson.html

 

b)    Positive moves on getting a Community Building (+café & toilets) in the park by the lake

A team from HPPG has been liaising with LBWF regarding a suitable lease which would be the first step in bringing the building in the park (beside the lake) back into community use.  This will include toilets and café facilities.  A draft lease has now been tendered by LBWF and HPPG is in the process of setting up a CIC (Community Interest Company) as a vehicle to administer the building and sign the lease.  Work can then begin on its refurbishment.

 

c)    Hale End Library in Highams Park

This item relates to the council's proposals during 2016 to relocate the library to smaller premises next to Tesco.  The proposal assumed that increased usage would occur at a new location.  Following representations by residents, the proposal to relocate the library is now on hold and HPPG is taking a key role in working with officers to increase usage of the library in its current location thereby removing the need to move it.

 

HPPG member and local resident Pam May has volunteered to coordinate room bookings, liaising between residents' groups and the Library staff to increase usage.  This is already starting to bear fruit.

 

The recent Film screening of "I, Daniel Blake" was a sell out with far more people seeking tickets than were available.  This event demonstrated well the flexible ground floor space; the bookshelves were rolled back and 70 seats were set up in less than an hour.

 

A survey has been constructed which will be distributed to all Highams Park residents to determine what they would like to see in the building.  The survey encourages residents to think outside of what a traditional library offers.  Based on the responses to this survey, it is hoped radically new facilities and events can be organised.  The survey will be launched in February.  Its launch was postponed from 2016 to avoid confusion with other library surveys organised by the council.

 

d)    Tesco Car Park Problems

Some good news to report:  At previous meetings it was noted that signs displayed in the Tesco car park state that the car park is only for Tesco customers whereas the planning permission for the store states that the car park is: "for visitors to Highams Park Neighbourhood Centre but not commuters or long stay".  GR has been liaising with council officers to get the wording changed.  GR was pleased to report that the signs in the car park had now been changed to remove the references to "Tesco Customers".

 

In a separate matter relating to the car park and as noted in previous Forum meetings, many residents have complained about the poor air quality in the car park.  The Forum suggested that signs requesting drivers to turn off engines might help.  Forum member David Roper has been liaising with Tesco management to achieve this.  DR was unable to attend tonight's meeting but gave an update (via MP).  This is a good news / bad news story.  The good news is that "No idling" signs have been erected.  The bad news is they are so small that drivers will not even notice them. There are only five notices anyway.  DR has contacted the store manager who has said that she will investigate whether it is possible to order some bigger notices.

 

e)    Requested new litter bins

At the last meeting of the Forum, litter in the shopping area and near the senior school was discussed.  It was suggested that larger litter bins near the school might help.  Cllr Fitzgerald picked up this matter and contacted council officers.  Attendees were pleased to report that a new large bin has now been installed near the school.

 

f)     Community Toilets signage

At the last Forum meeting it was noted that council officers confirmed that the only members of the Community Toilet scheme in Highams Park were The Highams Lounge café and the Library (which is closed 3 days a week).  It was noted also that there was no central sign indicating the location of the Community Toilets.  Other shopping centres have such a sign.

 

Since that meeting, Cllr Fitzgerald has asked council officers to look into the installation of such a sign and attendees report that the Chives café in Winchester road has now joined the scheme.

 

JB pointed out that there is a Community Toilets sign on the corner of The Broadway and Larkshall Road but it doesn't have a map and it doesn't specify locations.

 

GT mentioned that the HPPG had created a leaflet showing all the shops in Highams Park and they could extend this to show the location of community toilets.

 

g)       Clarification on what should happen to rubbish bags that have Green Stickers put on them by the Environmental Team

JB noted that there had been a recent increase in the use of Green Stickers on rubbish bags left outside premises in the shopping area outside of the correct collection times.  These stickers warn residents against the practice and signal to operatives to investigate the contents of the bag to identify the culprit.

 

Attendees were pleased to see efforts to address the problem of the unwanted bags (which get left and can be opened by foxes leading to a mess).  However, JB noted that there is sometimes a lack of coordination between the operatives tasked with investigating the bags and the operatives tasked with clearing up what is considered a fly tip.  In this case, the bags can be cleared before the contents have been investigated.

 

h)       Discontinuation of Community Ward Forums

"Community Ward Forums" (CWFs) are regular meetings chaired by ward councillors where residents of the ward listen to speakers on subjects relevant to the ward (e.g. the local police teams) and get the chance to raise issues with councillors and council officers.  These meetings are also the focus for assessing support for projects seeking funding from a portion of the £10k allocated to each ward for residents' projects each year.

 

The councillors present at this evening's meeting advised the meeting that unfortunately the CWFs would be coming to an end at the end of the financial year (i.e. end of March 2017). The measure had been voted on in December and was supported by both Conservative and Labour councillors.  The reason given was to save money.

 

It is understood that there will be some kind of as yet unspecified replacement.  Cllr Braham said that there would be a period of inactivity between the end of the CWFs and the start of whatever is to replace them.

 

Attendees were shocked by the revelation and wondered why they had not heard of it before.  They were also concerned that the period of inactivity might last indefinitely.

 

Highams Park is fortunate in having organisations such as the Forum and the HPPG which give councillors and residents a regular method of getting together to share ideas.  Other areas of Waltham Forest may not be so fortunate.  This could lead to the council becoming "out-of-touch".

 

Attendees noted that the attendance at CWFs across the borough had always been variable.  Attendance in Highams Park and Chingford had always been good and residents valued the meetings, but it was known that for some, in other parts of the borough, attendance had been consistently poor.  TC said that he'd gone to one ward forum meeting where fewer than 6 people turned up and the meeting quickly decamped to a pub.

 

Whether poor attendance indicated disinterest, or just bad advertising, is unclear.  Meetings tended to be publicised by emails to those that had attended previous meetings.  Thus an initial meeting that had a poor attendance was likely to stay that way unless other measures were used to alert residents.

 

TC asked what would happen with Community Ward Forum community funds.  Cllr Braham said that this money would still be available but Councillors would now be responsible for selecting which projects received funding.  It wasn't clear which Councillors would be making the decisions - i.e. whether local Councillors would be making funding decisions for their local areas or whether Councillors borough-wide will decide.

 

The Forum agreed to monitor this closely and liaise with our local councillors to organise a satisfactory outcome.

 

[After the meeting Cllrs Paul Braham and Marion Fitzgerald pointed MP to the minutes of the council meeting where the decision was taken (Council Meeting 15th December 2016).  This gives the full story and resolves some of the confusion.  The council minutes can be found by clicking the link below.  Then scroll down to item 50a.  You'll see that you can expand the text to see the full motion and the full decision text.  Note that the motion was changed as a result of the discussion so the motion and decision differ.  Link = http://democracy.walthamforest.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=4066

 

If you are reading a paper copy of these minutes, the above link is awkward to type, so you can find the minutes by using a google search for "lbwf council minutes 15th December 2017".]

 

9)         Action List: Review of outstanding items

Due to time pressure at the meeting, the Action List was not reviewed.  MP will review and update the list outside of the meeting based on his knowledge of progress.

 

10)     Any other business

a)    LBWF House & Garden Services

Members may be interested that the council offers a number of services relating to removal of unwanted items and waste.  They can be viewed here:

www.walthamforest.gov.uk/content/residents-large-item-collection

b)    Best Before campaign and WF Food Rescuer opportunities

The Hornbeam Centre in Walthamstow asked the Forum to let members know that it is "recruiting volunteers who are passionate about reducing food waste and would like to talk to other people in the borough about it.  The aim is to raise awareness among local food retailers that it is not illegal to sell food that is passed its best before date."  Details can be found by following this link (+ scroll down): www.hornbeam.org.uk/2016/10/food-rescuers-wanted-2/

c)    Tree & Seat

AH enquired about the elm tree in Highams Park that used to have a bench around it.  Attendees thought it used to be where the community noticeboard is, near Tesco.  GT said that Mary Dunhill had drawn a sketch of the bench and tree as nobody had managed to find a picture of it and people in the HPPG were working to get something similar installed

d)    Holocaust Memorial Day event

Cllr Braham informed attendees of the Holocaust Memorial Day event at the Town Hall on 29th January at 2pm.  All are welcome and can book on Eventbrite here :

www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/holocaust-memorial-day-tickets-30950193863

e)    Dates of next Community Ward Forum Meetings

Hatch Lane

Date: Thursday 2nd February 2017

Time: 7pm - 9pm

Venue: Venue: All Saints Church, Church Avenue, Highams Park, E4 9QD

 

Chapel End

Date:  Monday 27 February 2017

Time: 7pm-9pm

Venue: Chapel End Infant School, 3 Beresford Road, Walthamstow, E17 4LN

 

Hale End & Highams Park

Dates for 2017 to be advised

 

11)     Items for next agenda

·      Implications and actions needed re Community Ward Forums being discontinued after March 2017

 

12)     Confirm date, time for next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 6th March 2017 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.
 

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