Highams Park Forum
HIGHAMS PARK FORUM
1) Welcome & Introductions
Roger Torode chaired the meeting and Mike Payne took the minutes.
2) Matters arising from minutes of meeting 22nd July 2019
There were no matters arising.
3) Closure of The Highams Park Forum
At the last meeting of the Forum, a number of unrelated events were discussed which collectively called into question the practicality of the status quo in respect of the organisation and administration of The Highams Park Forum. A document titled "The Future of the Highams Park Forum" ("the document") had been prepared by MP and distributed to all members just prior to that meeting and the meeting regretfully concluded that in principle The Highams Park Forum should close by the end of 2019. Given that very little notice had been given of that agenda item, and some regular attendees could not be present, it was agreed that the formal decision to wind up the Forum should take place at this (9th Sept) meeting.
a) Confirm closure should go ahead (per discussion at last meeting)
The meeting revisited many of the issues noted in "the document" and in the minutes of the last meeting and then reluctantly confirmed that the Forum should close by the end of 2019. The discussion in item 4 of this agenda deals with actions needed to plug gaps left by the Forum's closure.
b) Confirm closure timetable
It was agreed that the two remaining meetings of 2019 (booked and paid for) should take place as planned. These should not take on "new business" but should focus on the procedures for closing the Forum in a well-managed fashion and tidying up loose ends. Those meetings are 21st October and 2nd December. The December meeting would therefore be the last meeting and it was agreed that there should be a small celebration of the Forum's achievements.
c) Agree what should happen to any residual funds
MP confirmed that there were no outstanding payments due between now and the end of the year and so RT was able to declare that the final balance of the Forum's bank account would be £163.02. Since some of the Forum's functions would operate via the HPPG, the meeting hoped that the residual Forum funds could be transferred to the HPPG. The funds are the remainder of a grant from Hatch Lane Ward so RT proposed to contact Cllr Marion Fitzgerald to ask for permission to perform this transfer.
[Note following the meeting: This proposed transfer has been agreed.]
d) Update on website and email transfers and costs
MP explained that HPPG have agreed that the Forum's mothballed website can reside on the web server used by the HPPG website and the HP Portal website. It will be included within the HPPG's hosting package at no cost to the Forum.
MP has completed this transfer and a small fee (£7.19) has been paid to redirect the Forum's domain (highamsparkforum.co.uk) to the new host for a year. This transfer went very smoothly and any visitor to the site would not have noticed the changeover.
The Forum's account with its existing web host has been closed.
The HPPG's webhost is also supporting the Forum's email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) within the HPPG's hosting package and this is operating very well.
The meeting thanked the HPPG for their assistance in all this.
In a year's time (beginning of
September 2020) the Forum's domain registration will expire and if no action is
taken at that time the website and email will not be accessible. It would be
possible to renew the domain registration if it is thought necessary. It would
also be possible to link the website into the menus of the HP Portal and/or
HPPG so it can be found via that route instead of via a dedicated domain.
e) Agree wording for introduction to mothballed website
It was agreed that a "landing page" was necessary to precede the normal home page of the Forum's website. This would be displayed to visitors to www.highamsparkforum.co.uk to explain the closing status of the Forum and its website before they enter the site proper.
RT & MP agree to work together on some suitable words for this landing page. The meeting agreed that this should focus on the achievements of the Forum and the fact that it was its success that was now effectively making it redundant.
4) Plugging the gaps left by the absence of The Forum
During the discussions regarding closing the Forum it was noted that, although most of its functions are being duplicated elsewhere, there were two functions that need to be specifically addressed following the closure
a) Regular public meetings
The HPPG operates several Topic Working Groups which meet regularly and residents are encouraged to join but these are on specific topics (e.g. Transport, Arts & Culture, Etc.). This "specific topic" approach has been very successful and the resulting focus given has been able to deliver significant results. But there is no HPPG "General" topic meeting. The Annual General Meeting of the HPPG does not serve this function since it is primarily a review of the year and the election of The Group's Coordinating Committee. It is not a vehicle for general discussion.
MP explained that Gordon Turpin (Chair of the HPPG) is receptive to the idea of holding "General" Topic Working Group meetings and has suggested that perhaps the format could be designed to appeal to a wider age group than currently attend. Perhaps being more informal and with a social element (e.g. tea, coffee, wine) might help attract people who don't currently get involved.
Attendees were supportive of this approach and recommended a frequency of 3 or 4 times a year. The councillors present were also supportive of the idea and stated that they would be happy to attend.
Attendees felt that it was important to publish the dates of the meetings for the whole year in advance to show that they were a regular and predictable occurrence rather than a one off.
b) A contact point for questions about Highams Park
MP regularly receives emails from residents (and some non-residents) asking questions about Highams Park. The nature of these varies considerably, for example, history, trying to contact someone, information, advice, etc. There are usually 2 or 3 emails of this nature each month and they arrive addressed to the Forum official email address. In general, people find this address via a search engine. When the domain registration expires this contact point will no longer be available.
Attendees felt that it was important that a replacement service be available and be easily "found" by people searching the internet for it. The HP Portal offers a contact email address so perhaps the wording of the page displaying the address could be enhanced to explain its "contact us" function so that search engines will pick up those words and display them in search results.
The existing "contact us" page in the mothballed Forum website could be amended to direct people to the Portal team.
RG stated that an organisation he is involved with has a contact phone number in addition to email address since it was felt some people might not wish to use email. If the phone number is associated with a mobile phone it can be passed between different members to share the responsibility of answering it. There were mixed feelings as to the desirability of such a phone number for general Highams Park matters.
c) Publicity for the above
Attendees recognised the importance of publicising both the regular meetings and the contact details. It was acknowledged that a variety of methods were necessary to reach all residents. Suggestions were:
1) Post notices in the library
2) Post notices on the public notice boards
3) Email details to the distribution lists of various Highams Park organisations (e.g. HPPG, HP Society, HP Forum).
4) Apply search engine optimisation techniques to ensure people searching for "Highams Park" (plus additional words) are directed to the correct help page.
5) Planning & Development
[To the reader: We are advised that comments on planning applications sent to the planning department from individual residents carry more weight than a group letter from an organisation. If you would like to see the details of any planning application, including plans and any decision documents, you need to visit the council's website here: http://planning.walthamforest.gov.uk/application-search and enter the relevant application id. that is shown below. For appeals, the link is: https://www.gov.uk/appeal-planning-inspectorate]
a) Application id: 183379: Addition of 3 floors to 472-478 Larkshall Road to create 21 flats.
Application dated Oct 2018. This is the block from Inside Job to Breeze Restaurant.
Status: No decision as yet (The original target for a decision was 17th January 2019)
At previous meetings, attendees were apprehensive of the uncharacteristically long time being taken in assessing this application. Some hypothesised that council officers may be working on encouraging a grander scheme involving adjacent sites. Attendees noted that, possibly coincidentally, application 191304 (see "b" below) has been submitted for an adjacent location.
b) Application id: 191304: 'James Yard', 480 Larkshall Road. Demolition of existing building next to HP Station Chingford bound platform & build of two 5 story blocks of flats.
Status: "Target determination date" (set by planning officers) is 16th September 2019.
There are a large number of documents that form the application. If you wish to read them and are struggling with the official site, the Forum has downloaded the documents and they can be viewed easily by clicking this link:
Both GR and the HPPG have independently written in with objections to this application.
6) Brief Updates:
a) HP Plan update
MP (on behalf of Gordon Turpin, chair of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG)) gave a brief update on behalf of GT.
The Plan is complete and has passed its formal examination. There now remain just some internal processes within the council before it can be put to residents in a formal referendum. The HPPG had hoped this referendum would take place this year but the formal processes have now been mapped out by council officers and for practical reasons the public vote may not take place until March 2020.
b) Project to install a pavement plaque for The International Reference Meridian (The IRM)
MP & IT, encouraged by the Forum and working with the Heritage Group of the HPPG, were successful earlier in the year in a bid for "Make It Local" funding for the installation of a bronze pavement plaque to mark "The International Reference Meridian" which runs through Highams Park. This is the Prime Meridian for the world (Longitude zero) which replaced the Greenwich Meridian as the global standard in 1984. GPS receivers (e.g. in mobile phones) show zero longitude at this point. The proposed location of the plaque has been revised for some practical reasons and will now be outside "Childcare" near the corner of Hale End Road and Beech Hall Road.
The team created the design for the 15 inch square bronze plaque and its manufacture has been completed. It was delivered last week and is now awaiting installation. Council officers are organising the practicalities of the installation and will let us know shortly the likely installation date. Checks are being performed on utilities running under the proposed location and agreeing the secure method for fixing the plaque.
When the installation date is known, a small unveiling ceremony will be arranged and a large launch event will be organized (open to all residents) in All Saint's Church Hall. The launch event will comprise some displays and an entertaining presentation to explain the significance of the IRM, its position, and why the Greenwich Meridian is in the "wrong" place.
c) Signal Box Update
RT gave some positive feedback. Progress is still being made (albeit slowly) and a positive outcome is still anticipated although a timescale of several months is likely. It is understood that parties at a high level in both Network Rail and the lessees of the signal box remain committed to resolving the situation and ultimately reopening the cafe.
d) Update: The delayed new gates for The Highams Park
Back in February 2018 the HPPG was successful in its Making Places proposal for new gates for the Highams Park (the park next to Highams Park Lake). The proposal (to be taken forward by the council's Making Places team) involved new gates at the three entrances to the park. The largest of these is at the Henry's Avenue entrance, being a large ornate gate (locked) to allow limited vehicular access for park maintenance and deliveries to Humphry's café.
The gates were installed last week. Some further painting is due but work in nearly complete. Attendees who have seen the gates were very pleased with the outcome. The three gates will each be a different colour (yellow, blue and red) to allow people to distinguish between them, for example when arranging a point to meet.
7) Action List: Review of outstanding items
The Action List was reviewed and updated and a revised copy will be distributed separately from these minutes.
8) Any other business
Cllrs Rosalind Doré and Tony Bell advised attendees that, after much lobbying, Tesco are understood to be installing CCTV cameras in Signal Walk (the public open space in front of the Main Tesco entrance).
9) Items for next agenda
No items were proposed at this meeting
10) Confirm date, time for next meeting
meeting will be held on Monday 21st October 2019 at 7:30pm in the
Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.