Highams Park Forum
HIGHAMS PARK FORUM
1) Welcomes & Introductions
Oliver Shykles chaired the meeting and Mike Payne took the minutes.
2) Matters arising from minutes of meeting 25th April 2016
There were no matters arising.
3) Feedback from meetings with London Overground & Walthamstow Central changes
RT gave feedback to the meeting regarding meetings he and GT had had with the rail operators (including a meeting with the MD of the London Overground section of TfL). Some of the key points were:
· TfL report increased use of the line and increased passenger satisfaction since they took over the line in May 2015.
· A number of improvements are planned for Highams Park Station between September 2016 and March 2017.
· The installation of new benches is currently in progress.
· Some improvements to the pigeon netting in the roofs over the platforms were made previously and this will be completed soon, needing a line closure (because of the need to work close to the overhead power lines).
· A new public address system will be installed. This will have more speakers than the present system so it can operate at lower volume and still be heard. It will also monitor ambient noise and automatically adjust the volume for the current conditions (e.g. if the station is quiet, the system will use a lower volume). This should be good news for residents close to the station who are being disturbed by the current system.
· New rolling stock is expected in 2018 (no precise date available). The trains will look similar to the new CrossRail trains, though with slightly smaller carriages and all seats will face sideways (backs to the windows). This will reduce the number of seats by two in each carriage (16 in a full 8-carriage train) but will increase the standing room and make standing easier. Overall the trains will have more capacity than the current rolling stock.
· Highams Park Station currently has three entrances/exits: the main building on The Avenue, the footpath to Larkshall Road (via Wilton Place) and the steps from the northbound platform down to the pedestrian subway. Ticket gates will be installed in the main building and the footpath to Larkshall Road.
· The entrance to the main station building will be widened (double the current width) to allow the installation of five ticket gates. This alteration will use some of the existing waiting room area, but further space will be reclaimed for the waiting room by using the space currently occupied by the small closed shop (was a morning newsagent). As a result, it will be about 2/3 of its current size.
· A new glazed building will be erected across the footpath to Larkshall Road to house five new ticket gates and passenger-operated ticket machines. The footpath will be widened for this purpose.
· The steps to/from the pedestrian subway on the Chingford bound platform will be closed (except for emergency access) since it is not practical to install ticket barriers there.
· The poor state of the footbridge is acknowledged and will be addressed when resources allow.
· The provision of lifts at the station (to allow wheelchair users to easily cross the line) is likely to be a longer term project, requiring TfL to bid for nationally available accessibility funding from the Department of Transport. Currently wheelchair users can access both platforms of the station from the street, but to travel between the platforms they have to leave the station on one side and travel a significant distance via the level crossing before re-entering the station on the other side.
· At Walthamstow Central Station, the works to install new ticket barriers and to reopen access to the Victoria line from the London bound platform is almost complete. When activated in the next couple of weeks it will mean passengers from Highams Park changing onto the Victoria line will not need to pass through any barriers at Walthamstow Central.
4) Speed guns for residents
OS described to attendees an article in the national Guardian newspaper about a scheme led by TfL to make speed guns available to residents. The scheme is called "Community Roadwatch" and the full article can be read here: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/10/londoners-police-residents-driving-community-roadwatch
Monitoring sessions require three residents present, one to operate the gun, one to call out details of vehicles and one to document. Signs 100m on either side of the monitoring point will warn motorists of the activity.
A couple of Forum residents have experience of a similar scheme elsewhere and state that it works to slow down traffic but the operators have to be "thick skinned".
It can be argued that the scheme is more forgiving of motorists than that operated by the police. In the Community Roadwatch scheme, warning letters are sent for the first two occurrences, and points/fines are only awarded on the third occurrence. The intention is to modify behaviour rather than to punish unnecessarily. The totting up occurs for offences across the whole country, not just locally.
TfL intends to roll out the scheme to all London Boroughs by the end of 2016. The reaction of Waltham Forest council to the scheme is not known by those present.
Attendees had mixed views on the scheme. Some were in favour but others were concerned about potential problems.
5) Planning for HP Forum's Exhibition at Highams Park Day 2016 (16th July)
The theme of "Selwyn School through the ages" has been agreed at previous meetings. OS reported on preparatory work so far:
· Mary Dunhill is curating the exhibition for us and has made significant progress sourcing materials.
· Local author Penelope Freeston has offered to assist with materials and JA has offered to reproduce if necessary.
· It is hoped to display items from famous "old pupils". TC has been contacting some.
· OS has contacted the school with the hope of displaying some work of current pupils. The school is also digging out old log books and diaries.
· The school is planning to bury a Time Capsule. Perhaps the display could include reference to this.
· RT offered some hanging transparent "display pockets" to display materials.
· A small subcommittee will be formed to finalise the detail in advance of the event.
With redevelopment works planned for the school, residents were concerned that some of the heritage might be lost. Cllr TB confirmed that his discussions with the school show that they plan to keep and display many significant items (for example the honours board).
6) Park keepers in Waltham Forest
OS had heard that layoffs of park keepers had been considered but that this was now on hold and going to be put to consultation. No one present was aware of this or able to throw any light on it.
7) Rubbish clearance in the centre of Highams Park
This relates to the ongoing problem of shops, and flats over shops (who have no external rubbish storage facilities) putting out rubbish in bags on non-collection days. These bags then often get broken open by foxes.
The council consider the behaviour to be Fly Tipping and seek to identify the wrong doers. Matters had improved recently following a sweep by enforcement officers, but it is noticed this often goes in cycles; matters improve for a while following an enforcement sweep but then people get back into bad habits.
JB asked if anyone has actually been prosecuted for Fly Tipping and wondered why the practice of putting bags around lampposts was encouraged. Insisting that bags should be left outside premises might encourage better citizenship.
8) Mini Holland - Feedback from workshops
LBWF has received £500k to spend on improvements to the road system (especially at junctions) to improve routes for pedestrians and cyclists in Highams Park. The scheme is known as Mini Holland and an extended period of consultation with residents is now in progress. Workshops with residents were held in May and some Forum members attended. The objective of the workshops was to gather the ideas of residents and for officers to share some of their initial ideas. Following these workshops, some firmer proposals will be developed and further consultation will take place to get feedback on these.
Attendees were generally positive about the openness of the process and the way the workshops were operated, but some expressed concern that the lack of detailed proposals at the May workshops might indicate a desire to conceal controversial measures. Most did not see it this way but acknowledged that caution was wise and we should stay close the proposals as they develop.
It was noted that a crossing point, proposed by the Forum and The HP Planning Group, across Chingford Lane (near the junction with The Avenue) looks like it will be delivered as part of the scheme.
Cllr TB noted that there will be an opportunity to ask questions of the officers working on the scheme at the next Community Ward Forum Meeting for Hale End & Highams Park Ward. This takes place 27th June at 7pm at Selwyn primary School.
9) Feedback from Hatch Lane Community Ward Forum Meeting (8th June)
Cllr TJ gave attendees a brief summary of the presentations at the meeting.
It was noted that Hatch Lane residents are organising a Hatch Lane Day (akin to Highams Park Day) which will take place one week after Highams Park Day. Highams Park Day is 16th July. Hatch Lane Day will be 23rd July and will take place at St Anne's Church (Larkshall Road).
10) 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 proposed policies for the plan are now in the final stages and are expected to be sent to council officers for review in the next couple of weeks.
· Café & Toilets in the park: Designs and costing prepared. Currently attempting to negotiate a lease with the council that will allow applications for funding to be made (for the building works).
· Decorative balls of light for outside of shops are now on order. These will be located on Hale End Road between the County Arms and Beverly Road.
· Numerous events being arranged including, Festival of Culture, Picnic in the Park, Last night of the Proms, Shop Local day, Evening with the stars, and the Xmas Fayre. Dates and details can be found on the "What's on" page of Forum's website: www.highamsparkforum.co.uk/whatson.html
· The Highams Park internet radio station will be launched at Highams Park Day.
· Reed planting is being organised for the lake to provide habitat for the fry of fish. A lot of such habitat was destroyed as a by-product of the recent dredging of the lake. It is hoped the planting will take place in July.
b) Routing of Tesco delivery vehicles
GR and Cllr TB have been pursuing the matter of large delivery vehicles not following the prescribed routes. Vehicles are supposed the use Hale End Road and Larkshall Road. They are supposed to avoid, in particular, Winchester Road because parking often means they get stuck and cause congestion.
Investigations suggest that, as part of the planning consent for the Tesco store, Tesco delivery vehicles over 30cwt GLW (Gross Laden Weight) are not supposed to use Winchester Road, but enforcement is not straightforward:
· Weight varies based on whether the vehicle is empty or loaded. Hard to tell by external observation.
· Vehicles not going to/from Tesco are not constrained by this restriction. Hard to tell by external observation.
· Drivers unfamiliar with the area (following sat navs) often end up in unsuitable roads. Perhaps better signage is required to help them go the right way.
· "Width" is just as much an issue as "weight" in Winchester Road.
· It might be better to have a blanket ban of all large vehicles using Winchester Road with some obvious signage.
Cllr TB volunteered to discuss with council enforcement officers.
c) Heavy helicopters over Highams Park - some interesting information
At the last meeting there was a brief discussion about "heavy helicopters" (possibly Chinooks) over Highams Park in the early part of 2016.
Following on from this, attendees had noticed recently a number of flights over Highams Park of a strange looking aircraft called a V-22 Osprey. This is a cross between a plane and a helicopter. As a plane it has two very large forward facing propellers which can rotate 90 degrees to allow it to take off and land vertically. Searching the internet reveals a number of photos and videos of this unusual aircraft.
It is reported that the SAS have recently taken delivery of two of these to allow for their speedy deployment and have been on training flights to gain experience of the new equipment. Single and pairs of Ospreys have been seen flying over Highams Park on South West course. This would be consistent with the SAS base in Hereford.
d) Dates of next Community Ward Forum Meetings
Hale End & Highams Park
Date: Monday 27th June 2016
Time: 7pm - 9pm
Venue: Selwyn Primary School, 102 Cavendish Road, Highams Park, E4 9NG
Date: Monday 19th September 2016
Venue: Chapel End Infant School, 3 Beresford Road, Walthamstow, E17 4LN
Date: Thursday 10th November 2016
Venue: Longshaw Primary School, Longshaw Road, Chingford, E4 6LH
Note: Meeting will include a discussion on funding of community projects (deciding which applications can be approved).
e) Proposed car parking changes (15 mins free, etc.) will be discussed by the Council on Thursday, 14 July 2016 at 7.30 p.m. in the Council Chamber at the Town Hall
Currently, parking bays outside shops in Highams Park have the first 15 minutes free with no need to buy a ticket. This is believed to be beneficial to the shops since it makes it easy for people driving by to "pop in" for a quick shop and then move on, freeing up the bay for someone else. For longer stays in Highams Park, there is 3 hours free parking in the Tesco car park without any obligation to shop in Tesco.
Previous Forum meetings have expressed concern over what appeared to be the council's plan to remove the free 15 minutes parking in bays outside shops. A new change in regulations from central government mandates a 10 minute grace period and the council does not want this to turn the 15 minutes free period into 25 minutes free. But it would appear that common sense has prevailed and the council now plans to reduce the free period to 5 minutes which, with the 10 minutes grace, comes back to 15 minutes free.
Some residents are still unhappy about this however. The cost of changes to signage is significant and it may still not be clear to car drivers that 15 minutes is free since the sign will only refer to 5 minutes.
The matter was reviewed by the council's scrutiny committee on 4th May 2016. The Forum meeting reviewed the comprehensive report produced by council officers which seems to fairly summarise the concerns.
Because of a large petition from residents, the matter will now go to full council. This has been scheduled for Thursday, 14 July 2016 at 7.30 p.m. in the Council Chamber at the Town Hall.
f) Air Quality in Tesco Car Park
At the last Forum meeting DR, being sensitive to poor air quality, reported that he believed that the air in the underground car park at Tesco might be below standard. His own carbon monoxide meter seemed to support this view so he had asked a council officer to attend to check. The officer had been unable to bring any test equipment because it appears the council does not have access to such portable equipment. However, the officer consulted the store manager and reviewed the store's electronic monitoring system which automatically turns on extractor fans if pollutants exceed a certain level. The officer was satisfied that all was operating correctly.
Attendees noted that it was not just carbon monoxide that was a potential problem but also oxides of nitrogen (often referred to as NOX) and "particulates" (the minute carbon particles that originate primarily from diesel engines).
DR provided an update via email to MP. He has been in communication with the Jess Walker, Tesco Area manager and has asked the following questions on behalf of the Forum:
1. Do the sensors in the Tesco's store indoor car park only measure Carbon Monoxide (not sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter, lead and benzene)?
2. If the answer to question 1 is "yes", at what level of Carbon Monoxide pollution in the car park are the extractor fans programmed to activate?
the answer to question 1 is "yes", would you please agree to allow
three small professional measuring units to be placed high up (near the car
park ceiling and out of reach of customers) for three months (minimum legal
requirement), so that average pollution levels (particularly of nitrogen
dioxide) can be measured accurately?
I have also asked Ms Walker if the signs asking drivers to switch off their engines as soon as they park will be put up soon.
Ms Walker has agreed to provide responses but is currently waiting on a formal response from Tesco Engineering.
11) 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.
12) Any other business
a) Proposed development at 70 The Avenue, backing onto Castle Ave
MP reported on emails received from residents. The garden of 70 The Avenue extends to Castle Avenue. Planning approval is being sought by the owner to build a bungalow in the garden, fronting Castle Avenue, replacing part of an existing garage. A number of nearby residents are concerned about this and have objected to the council. They are concerned about the building overlooking existing properties on the rising ground and the precedent established in using such a problematic and cramped site.
The planning reference for the application is 161280 and the deadline for comments in 17th June 2016.
Cllr MF said that because of the sensitive nature of the proposal she has asked planning officers to refer the application to the council's planning committee if the officers are minded to approve it.
b) Demolition of Dolphin Windows on the corner of Winchester Road and Selwyn Avenue
A rumour had been heard that there were plans to demolish the building on the corner of Winchester Road and Selwyn Avenue (currently occupied by Dolphin Windows) but no one was able to confirm whether this was true or not.
c) Garden waste (brown bins) switch to fortnightly collection
In previous years, brown bins (for garden and food waste) were collected weekly in summer and fortnightly in winter. The service has now changed to brown bin collection fortnightly throughout the whole year.
It has been suggested that council officers had the impression that residents were not fully using the weekly service and judged it to be unnecessary.
Some residents with large gardens are finding this a problem since they generate more waste in a fortnight than a single bin can cope with. Officers have advised that they will supply a second bin if requested.
The problem of smelly food waste (which goes in the same bin) was mentioned. The waste decays significantly during a warm fortnight. The use of biodegradable "caddy bags" was suggested as a solution.
d) Overhanging trees/bushes in Castle Ave.
A resident had reported problems with overhanging trees in Castle Avenue. Other attendees had not noticed the problem but were pleased that it had been reported to Waltham Forest Direct.
e) Online Live Departure Boards for Highams Park Station
A resident notified the Forum of a new online Live Departure Board web page from TfL for Highams Park Station. This shows up-to-the-minute times for train arrivals at the station and indicates any delays. It contains similar information to an existing National Rail web page but the format may be more suited to the small size of a phone screen. The two links are as follows:
National Rail Page: http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/service/ldbboard/dep/HIP
f) Artwork for The Broadway - consultation
Attendees of the Community Ward Forum Meeting for Hale End & Highams Park ward (27th June - see item 10d above) will be shown proposals for wall artwork in The Broadway as part of the Shop Fronts improvement programme.
g) Grass cutting without litter picking
JB had noticed a tendency for some council contractors to mow grass areas before litter picking the area. This causes shredded litter to be distributed over the area. These areas are litter picked on a regular basis by a different team so the underlying problem seems to be lack of coordination between the two teams. Cllr TJ agreed to flag up the problem to council officers.
h) Bus Stop Remodelling in Larkshall Road
Attendees were still puzzled by the bus stop remodelling in Larkshall Road near the junctions of Coolgardie Ave and Hickman Ave. The matter had been discussed at the last meeting.
RT understood that the works were part of a TfL scheme.
OS stated that he was still trying to find out how they came to be and why.
13) Items for next agenda
· Should action be taken against the increasing presence of foxes in roads and gardens?
14) Confirm date, time for next meeting
meeting will be held on Monday 25th July 2016 at 7:30pm in the
Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.