Highams Park Forum
HIGHAMS PARK FORUM
1) Welcomes & Introductions
Oliver Shykles was unable to attend the meeting so Oona Kelly kindly stood in for him and chaired the meeting. Mike Payne took the minutes.
2) Matters arising from minutes of meeting 25th July 2016
There were no matters arising.
3) Clash of Forum meeting dates with Community Ward Forum - Future avoidance
Tonight's Highams Park Forum meeting clashed with the meeting of the Hale End & Highams Park Community Ward Forum. For this reason, a number of councillors and other regular attendees were unable to attend.
The Forum publishes its meeting dates for the whole year in the October of the preceding year. MP contacted the organisers of the Community Ward Forums and they agreed to try to avoid the HP Forum meeting dates in the future. Cllr Fitzgerald stated that she already performed this check for the Hatch Lane Community Ward Forum and their meetings tend not to be on Mondays so this should not be a problem for them.
4) Latest news regarding the future of Highams Park's Library ("Hale End Library")
Background: Council Officers produced a proposal document containing major changes to the buildings which deliver the council's "Library Local" service. Highams Park's Library (officially known as "Hale End Library") featured in that document. It proposed that the library be sold for housing development and that a new (smaller) library space be rented in a commercial block at the end of Signal Walk near Tesco. The document made claims about the unsuitability of the current building and how the new building would attract better usage.
The document caused a huge negative reaction from thousands of residents who believed the report to be inaccurate and misleading. They questioned the supposed issues with the current library and did not think a rented building was a viable long term solution when there is no long term source of funds to pay the significant rental cost.
Following these representations the Council has decided not to include Hale End Library in its consultation on major changes and relocations to "library locals".
Instead, any decisions on the future of Hale End Library, including its possible relocation, will be deferred for up to one year pending engagement and discussions with local residents. During this deferment, the council has committed to engage with local people to explore how usage of the existing building can be increased.
Representatives from the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) and the Highams Park Forum met with Council officers on Wednesday 7th September to try and ascertain what form the Council's engagement process will take and over what period of time (clarity is required on the "up to one year" statement and the precise start date, given that officers are busy with the other library locals). MP represented the Forum at that meeting. The key points of the meeting were as follows:
1. It was agreed that we will have monthly meetings with the Council to discuss progress with the engagement and ways to drive increased usage of the library's facilities and will assist the Council by sharing information with local residents.
2. In its engagement the Council is keen to reach all residents, both existing library users and non-library users to determine people's views about the future of the library and the services it should offer.
3. Exactly how the engagement will take place has not been clearly defined as yet as this is a departure from the Council's previous strategy but they would like to work closely with local community groups so as to reach as many people as possible during the process.
4. The period of up to one year does not have a fixed end date as yet and will to some extent depend on the outcome of the Council's engagement process with the local community.
5. Increased usage of its facilities is key to the ongoing sustainability of the library in its current location and we discussed how this could be done. The HPPG submitted a "strategy paper" to the council in July to support our objections to the relocation and downsizing of the library. This document collated many ideas from many residents as to how usage of the building and library can be increased to prevent any need for relocation. The document is not meant to be a business plan or a fully comprehensive document but rather a starting point for discussions with the Council and hopefully can be expanded and improved by ideas and suggestions during the engagement process. To a large extent this strategy paper represents ideas that the some of our members have being trying to implement for several years.
6. We asked what benchmarks will be used as a measure of success and proof that the existing building is not too big for its needs and does not need to be relocated. The Council officers have promised to send us a list of benchmarks for discussion at a follow up meeting in early October.
7. We felt that the initial meeting was friendly and constructive and that the Council is prepared to listen.
Further meetings have now been planned and additional residents who have expressed an interest will be invited.
5) Speed humps delay in The Avenue and resurfacing
Council officers have advised Forum members of the planned works in The Avenue. Works to install planned speed humps have been delayed because of the poor road surface on parts of the road. It was considered prudent to resurface the problem areas before installing the humps. Peter Kelly, council
Design & Construction Manager, explains the process as follows in an email dated 24th August:
As part of the 20 mph Zone works for The Avenue we have been investigating and a number of issues, including the condition of the existing road surface, that needed to be addressed in advance of the installation of the traffic calming measures.
We can confirm that going forward, the Council's maintenance section will be reconstructing / resurfacing the carriageway between 190 The Avenue and Chingford Lane and the humps in this section will be installed as part of this resurfacing work. This is currently being planned for October subject to further discussion with the emergency services and TfL buses.
Humps will also be installed outside numbers 78, 118 and 158 at a time that does not conflict with the resurfacing work and we are looking to install these in the next few weeks. Letters will be distributed to all residents affected and ward Cllr's closer to the time outlining any disruption to parking or access.
Further to this work we will be looking to install a raised table at the junction of Falmouth Ave and Priority Give Way by the library at Castle Ave.
The Priority Give Way is an alternative form of speed reduction which we are looking to use as opposed to humps in a location that historically has suffered from ground vibration problems.
GR noted that the Falmouth Avenue table and the Priority Give Way were not in the original plans and asked officers if it was intended to consult residents on these proposals. It would appear that there is no plan to consult further.
6) Ongoing problem of wheelie bins not being replaced properly after emptying
Attendees have reported at previous meetings ongoing problems with wheelie bins not always being properly replaced after emptying. Some operators go to a lot of trouble to return bins to their proper place but some leave them in obvious wrong places, blocking paths. Apart from the danger and inconvenience, this is a clear sign that the resident is away on holiday.
Attendees reported that the problem continues. OK raised a formal complaint to the council and received a prompt visit from a manager of Keir, the contractor responsible. He apologised and offered his direct phone number if any further problems occur. OK was reluctant to take up this offer since it would mean that council records would not show the problems. During the discussions, it was acknowledged that the contract requires bins to be returned to the place where they were found. This is contrary to what some parties have said (when responding to complaints) that the bins simply have to be returned to the property boundary.
Attendees acknowledged that the operators always seem to be in a great rush and wondered if enough time was allocated to the collection round.
IT noted that at one point over the summer two collections were missed in Larkshall Road, meaning bins were not collected for 3 weeks. On reporting the problem, IT was told "there were not enough lorries". Operators returned to collect the bins of IT and other neighbours who had reported the problem. The operators had a list of specific house numbers to collect rather than the whole street despite the fact that a whole section of the road had been missed.
Attendees noted that the free "Bulky Waste Collection Service" seemed to have changed of late. The service used to have a speedy response but now a month's wait is normal. This means that items stay in front gardens, looking unsightly for a protracted period. Apparently large electrical goods are collected separately and their wait period is even longer at 6 weeks.
It was reported that if a resident requests replacement of a broken black bin they are now provided with a smaller size than before. This is not normally a problem with increased recycling but residents have been told that they can ask for two of the smaller size bins if it is a problem.
7) Brief Updates:
a) HP Plan update
GT, chair of the Highams Park Planning Group was unable to attend but gave a brief update via MP 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 have been sent to council officers for review. Their constructive comments have been received and are being incorporated.
· 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. The final phase of planting will take place Saturday 17th September 2016.
· A dissolved oxygen meter has been purchased and regular monitoring of the lake water is taking place. Readings show the quality of the water is now much improved.
· Numerous events have been arranged and have taken place including, Festival of Culture, Picnic in the Park, Last night of the Proms, and Shop Local day. All have been well received. Remaining events for 2016 include An 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
· HPPG is taking a key role in working with officers to increase usage of the library (see item 4 above).
· The HPPG transport group report that works to remodel Highams Park Station (including ticket barrier installation) is expected to commence this month. The works are significant (as reported in the minutes of the last meeting) and some disruption can be expected.
· The planning group have been liaising with council officers over the mini Holland proposals (per item 7e below).
b) Routing of Tesco delivery vehicles
GR and Cllr TB have been pursuing the matter of large Tesco 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 due to uncertainty as to the actual weight of an observed vehicle. It might be better to have a blanket ban of all large vehicles using Winchester Road with some obvious signage.
Council officers have now provided some clarity to the confusing situation as follows:
· HGV's are permitted to use Winchester Road. It is part of the planning consent that HGV's delivering to the Tesco's site are not permitted to use Winchester Road.
· A sign has been erected at the south end of Winchester Road stating "Unsuitable for HGVs". Unfortunately the sign is rather small and it is possible that the sign will be seen only when a driver has already started to turn onto the road.
· The current sign is advisory only and can't be enforced.
· To have an enforceable ban on all HGVs in the road (regardless of destination) will require a traffic order. No formal request for this has yet been placed.
c) Tesco Car Park Rules - Signs which suggest only for Tesco Customers
At the previous meeting it was noted that signs displayed in the Tesco Car park state that the car park is only for Tesco customers. A copy of the planning permission agreement for the store (dated 2nd February 2011) was obtained and stated that the car park is: "for visitors to Highams Park Neighbourhood Centre but not commuters or long stay".
GR emailed council officers requesting that they ask Tesco to change their signs. Council officers confirm the Forum's interpretation of the planning permission and Planning Enforcement officers will now approach Tesco to get the signs changed.
d) Proposed development at 70 The Avenue, backing onto Castle Ave
This item relates to a proposal to demolish half a semi-detached garage and create a small house on a very constrained plot at the bottom of a garden in The Avenue. The plot would open onto Castle Avenue. The new house would be in a very elevated position overlooking existing properties.
It is understood that no decision has been taken as yet but the case officer has requested further information from the applicant. As at the date of the meeting the planning application (ref 161280) does not show any decision.
Cllr Fitzgerald has told the Forum at a previous meeting 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.
e) Mini Holland - Feedback from latest workshops
Background: 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 has taken place and officers are considering the feedback received.
This subject was reported in some detail in the minutes of the last Forum meeting.
The final plan is expected shortly. Informal conversations suggest that officers have listened to concerns from residents over the significant proposed changes to the Handsworth Avenue/Hale End Road Junction.
f) Air Quality in Tesco Car Park
Forum member David Roper, being sensitive to poor air quality, 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.
Tesco have checked their equipment and confirm it is working properly. The equipment does not however measure oxides of nitrogen (often referred to as NOX) and "particulates" (the minute carbon particles that originate primarily from diesel engines). DR asked if he could put up his own monitors for these pollutants but this request was rejected since "3rd party equipment" on the premises was against their internal policies.
Tesco have, however, agreed to put up signs requesting vehicle users not to leave engines idling in the car park.
No signs have been put up yet but in a recent exchange of emails between DR and Jess Walker, Tesco Area manager, she confirmed that the signs would be installed and apologised for the delay (due to holidays). DR has also asked if Tesco could upgrade its own monitoring equipment to measure the pollutants other than carbon monoxide but has had no response as yet.
g) Dates of next Community Ward Forum Meetings
Date: Monday 19th September 2016
Time: 7pm - 9pm
Venue: Chapel End Infant School, 3 Beresford Road, Walthamstow, E17 4LN
Date: Thursday 10th November 2016
Time: 7pm - 9pm
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).
Hale End & Highams Park
Date: Monday 21st November 2016
Time: 7pm - 9pm
Venue: Selwyn Primary School, 102 Cavendish Road, Highams Park, E4 9NG
8) Action List: Review of outstanding items
The Action List was briefly reviewed by the meeting and items were updated where progress was known.
One particularly noteworthy item was A567: [Cars waiting to pick up pupils outside schools are leaving engines idling and thereby causing pollution.] MW had raised this at Handsworth Primary School and had had a very positive response from staff and parents. The school has now received a Green Flag award from the Eco Schools organisation in recognition of its actions.
IT noted that although A597 [remodelled bus stops in Larkshall Road] was shown as closed, the Forum had not received any clarification on the consultation process (if any) which preceded the controversial changes. These relate to the layout of the stops, in particular the cycle lanes which run behind the stops separating them from the pavement. IT agreed however that the item should remain closed.
9) Any other business
a) What happened to the 'Deep Clean' that Roads etc. used to have once or twice a year?
JB asked if Councillors could determine if the "Deep Clean" process for the borough's streets still took place and if so to what timetable. Attendees reported that they had seen action in Falmouth Avenue but nothing in Evanston Avenue and Abbotts Crescent.
b) Why are residents in the Highams Park area of Chapel End Ward, being asked on their views on improving Chingford Town Centre, when we live a lot closer to the centre of Highams Park?
JB showed the meeting a document he had been sent by the council titled "Chingford Town Centre Area Improvements". The document seems to be the next phase of the Mini Holland project and covers the area to the west and north of Highams Park. It would appear that, for the convenience of the scheme, roads we regard as "Highams Park" (in the south west of Highams Park) have been included in the Chingford scheme. The changes proposed may impact residents of Highams Park who travel through the area. If you would like to see the proposal (and possibly comment on it) it can be viewed by clicking this link:
c) Chingford-Stratford link petition
Both IT and OS (via MP) alerted the meeting to an online petition to reopen the rail link between Chingford and Stratford. This is a reawakening of a long standing proposal from several transport groups to reinstate a short section of track (known as "The Hall Farm Curve") just south west of St James Street Station. This would allow trains from Chingford to access the line to Stratford.
The online petition can be found by going to "change.org" and then searching for "Chingford Stratford".
A document prepared in 2012 for the Chingford Line Users Association and Railfuture explains the proposal in more detail. This can be found by searching the internet for "lee valley rail jrc" and then in the search result pick the item that includes the words "better access to jobs".
[It has the URL: www.leamarsh.com/rail/Lea%20Valley%20Rail%20JRC%20final.pdf]
10) Items for next agenda
a) Approve list of proposed Forum meeting dates for 2017 (to be distributed by MP prior to the meeting).
b) Waltham Forest News reports on a crack down on fly tipping. Can we determine whether anyone has been prosecuted for leaving rubbish bags on the pavement in the shopping area?
11) Confirm date, time for next meeting
meeting will be held on Monday 24th October 2016 at 7:30pm in the
Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.