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 8th December 2014 (Approved)

 

 

Present:

Cllr Paul Braham, Oona Kelly, Jeff  Beaton, Gordon Turpin, Michael Reddy, Mark Herring, Graham Reeve, Violet Thorpe, Mary Wilson, Cllr Tony Bell, Nicolas Haines, Roger Torode, Oliver Shykles, Mike Payne

Apologies:

Cllr Tim James, Cllr Sheree Rackham, Cllr Marion Fitzgerald, Mary Dunhill, John Kear, Danny Hunt, Trevor Calver, Roger Gillham, Anne Haines

 

1)         Welcomes & Introductions

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

 

2)         Matters arising from minutes of meeting 27th October 2014

·      Re item 3 (Parking in the Broadway), last paragraph: Cllr TB advised attendees that council officers were arranging a workshop with a small number of interested parties to explore various approaches to traffic calming in Winchester Road and The Broadway.  The idea is to ensure that any proposals, which will eventually go to more widespread consultation of residents, will have been well thought out first.  Forum members applauded the approach and proposed to send 3 members to represent the Forum at the meeting.  OS, MR and MH volunteers to attend.  Cllr TB will email details of the meeting to OS who will pass on details to MR & MH.

·      Re item 6d (Wheelie Bins), last paragraph:  JB will email Cllr SR with more details.

 

3)         New Town Centre benches

OS reported that he has had feedback that several elderly residents have commented that the lack of benches in the town centre is making it difficult them to visit the shops because there are few places to rest.  OS asked attendees if they would support his proposal to approach the council requesting more benches.  He was aware that there has been some concern in the past that benches can be a focus for anti-social behaviour.  After a brief discussion, all attending agreed that they supported the idea.

 

The newly installed bench at the junction of Abbotts Crescent and The Avenue was noted as being a good example of low maintenance modern bench design.  This is an elegant stainless steel bench with individual arm rests for each seating position.  The design is very attractive and practical although one attendee pointed out that it might feel cold to sit on compared to more traditional wooden models.

 

It was noted that Community Ward Forum funds might provide a good source to pay for the benches.  In addition there was a bench near the old Focus site which (due to changes in the level of the pavement) was now rather low down.  This bench could be raised up as part of the project.

 

4)         Rights of way - Access to the Definitive Map

The council is responsible for maintaining a formal document known as "The Definitive Map and Statement" (DMS).  The purpose of the document can be summarised as follows:

 

The DMS is a legal record of the public's rights of way in one of four categories (footpath, bridleway, road used as a public path, or byway open to all traffic).  If a way is shown on the map, then that is legal, or conclusive, evidence that the public had those rights along the way at the relevant date of the map (and has them still, unless there has been a legally authorised change). But the reverse is not true.

 

For various historical reasons and failures in record keeping over many years it has been suggested that the DMS for Waltham Forest is incomplete/inaccurate.  OS proposed that the Forum review the DMS for the Highams Park area and initiate the process of having it corrected where necessary.  This will ensure that footpaths and cycle ways are not accidentally lost during developments.

 

The DMS has proved to be surprisingly difficult to find.  OS & MP both searched the LBWF website and found many references to the DMS but were unable to find the DMS itself.  OS has determined that a paper copy is held at the Town Hall and this could be loaned out to our library for viewing.  6 attendees expressed an interest in reviewing the DMS and OS agreed to organise the loan and viewing.  The 6 attendees were: GT, GR, Cllr TB, MP, OK, & OS.

 

In a related matter, it is understood that following a street robbery in Beech Hall Crescent, a suggestion has been made by some residents to close a footpath along the River Ching.  It is understood the perpetrators hid themselves in some greenery at the entrance to the footpath next to the pavement.  Attendees were sympathetic to the desire of the residents to "do something" but felt that closing the footpath might be an overreaction when the problem seemed to relate to the design of the footpath entrance and its lighting rather than the footpath itself (it is understood the incident took place on the pavement not the footpath).  Many suggestions were offered by attendees but they recognised that they were working from memory and wanted to visit the site to ensure they were up to date.  It was agreed to revisit the subject at the next meeting.

 

5)         Should we allow "advertising" on the Forum's Facebook page?

OS has been asked on a number of occasions to advertise events and businesses on the Forum's Facebook page and wanted to ask attendees their views on what should and should not be included.

 

After some discussion on pros and cons, the meeting concluded that the page should focus on charity and not-for-profit events.  It was agreed that there was a case for advertising new commercial enterprises and special events in the form of "news" items (at the discretion of OS).

 

6)         Rubbish bags on pavement in Shopping Centre

JB noted the reoccurrence of an ongoing problem of rubbish bags being placed on the pavement for collection at the wrong times in the shopping centre.  The bags then remain for some time and can be torn open by foxes.  The bags originate not only from the flats above shops (which don't have adequate waste storage facilities) but also from the shops themselves.  It was noted that the problem was self-reinforcing in that when one person sees bags being put out then others follow.

 

OS agreed to contact the council's enforcement team to try to break the cycle.

 

7)         Information received

a)    Next ward Forum Meetings - Voting on projects to be funded

MP advised attendees that the next Community Ward Forum meeting for Hatch Lane  and  Hale End & Highams Park wards will take place as follows:
Date: Wednesday, 4 February 2015
Starting Time: 7.0 p.m. (doors open at 6.30 p.m.)
Place: Longshaw Primary School, Longshaw Road, E4 6LH

The Agenda has not yet been finalised but it is expected that voting on Ward Funding will be included. The closing date for the submission of applications for funding is 31st December 2014.  RT is submitting an application on behalf of the Forum to fund the cost of its website and the cost of meeting room hire.

 

b)    Mary & Michelle's Coffee morning for Children with Cancer

MW advised attendees of a Coffee Morning that she and Michelle Lawfull are arranging this Wednesday (Wed 10th Dec 9am-12 All Saints Church Hall) in aid of Children with Cancer.  They are both running the London marathon in 2015 to support the same cause.

 

c)    Postal Carts chained to lamp posts

A resident asked if any of the attendees had noticed a recent practice of red postal carts being left chained to street furniture.  Some have been left overnight.  A number of attendees reported that they too had seen this occurring of late in different places in the area.  There was a general feeling that the practice was understandable (and tolerable) during the Christmas period but they would not like to see it as a regular occurrence long term and not overnight.

 

MH agreed to enquire via contacts he has in the post office.

[After the meeting:  MH reported back that the practice is indeed short term and the carts are supposed to be collected at the end of each day.  Any that were left were an oversight.  The problem has been noted and the post office will try to avoid it happening again.]

 

d)    Copped Hall Tours

A Forum member wished to alert attendees to tours of Copped Hall.  The information is set out below:

 

Copped Hall is a large local Georgian mansion with extensive grounds and gardens. The site has historical connections back to Henry VIII. The building and grounds were once completely derelict but thanks to the Copped Hall Trust, the restoration is now a great success story. Although there is still much to be done, the site and building have been transformed in recent years and there is lots to see.

Tours take place on the 3rd Sunday of each month, excepting December and there are fascinating stories to hear. Entry fees are £8 per adult. Tours last about 2.5 to 3 hours with a 25 min tea break in between. If enough people want to go on a specific date then private tours can be arranged. Entry is from 10 am till 11 am. Site closes about 3 o'clock.

 

For more information, click here to see the website: www.coppedhalltrust.org.uk

 

8)         Brief Updates:

a)    HP Plan Update

Background:  Highams Park was successful in its application for £20k funding from central government to create a formal Neighbourhood Plan.  The plan will be created by the residents for the residents, covering all aspects of life in Highams Park.  The application was made jointly by LBWF, The Highams Park Forum, and The Highams Park Society.  A separate body was formed (The Highams Park Planning Group) to create the plan.  The group has around 500 members.

 

Gordon Turpin (Chair of the Planning Group) gave the meeting a brief summary of some of the recent activity:

 

·       Based on the work of the Topic Working Groups, the Coordinating Committee have created the first draft of policies for inclusion in the plan and these are now out for review and comment by the Topic Working Groups.  These will be opened up to public review in the New Year.

·       The Street Scene Group have submitted a bid to the GLA for a grant to improve the shopping centre.

·       The group has organised the Christmas Fayre & Farmers' Market at the Station and Signal Walk (by Tesco) on Sunday 21st December 2014  - 10am to 5pm.  This is described as follows:

A fun day for all the family arranged by Highams Park Planning Group members to try and put some festive spirit into the heart of Highams Park this Christmas with live entertainment, mulled wine and mince pies and much more!

The Farmers' Market has been persuaded to come back for an extra day on the 21st December with their artisan foods for the festive table, and the Woodford Wine Room will have a stall launching their new refillable wine bottles.

In Signal Walk (by Tesco) there will be twenty arts and crafts stalls featuring the works and handicrafts of local artists and crafters.

Local shops and cafes will also be open so you can get those last minute Christmas presents and have a cup of tea, coffee or glass of mulled wine whilst you enjoy your day.

In addition there will be a "Search for Santa's Little Helpers" competition, torch lit cycle parade, and Christmas Carols.

Links to more information (including event timings) can be found on the "What's on" page of the Forum's website.

·       The Signal Box will be open to the public, 11am - 3pm, during the Christmas Fayre (Sun 21st Dec).

·       Highams Park's "Little Libraries" will also be launched on Sunday 21st December.  Three of these will be available in Highams Park in front gardens.  For more information on how the scheme works see: www.littlefreelibrary.org

·       At the request of the group, the disused community notice board which used to be located in an out of the way position at the junction of Selwyn Ave and The Broadway has been moved to a more central location by the paved triangle outside Tesco.  New locks have been fitted (the keys to the old locks had long vanished) and the Planning Group now have access to the board and will display regular notices about forthcoming public events.

·       The Planning Group will hold its AGM on 12th February 2015 where it will report on its first year of work.

b)    Abbotts Crescent Bee Friendly Garden Funding

Good news.  After many, months of problems associated with the release of Ward Forum funding for the Abbotts Crescent Bee Friendly Garden project, OK and RT report that the money has now been received.  The council officers involved report that procedures have now been changed so that hopefully the problems experienced by this project will not occur again.

Because of the need to plant before cold weather, OK bought plants with her own money (hoping for reimbursement in due course) and 14 local residents met to plant them on Sunday 21st September.  All are very pleased with how the garden looks and thank those involved.

 

c)    Cycle Crossing on Chingford Avenue

This item relates to the idea of installing a marked crossing point across Chingford Lane (near to the junction with The Avenue) to link foot and cycle paths on both sides of the road.  The Forum and the Highams Park Planning Group met with council officers and Cllr Marion Fitzgerald on 16MAY14 at the location on Chingford Lane.  Those present at that meeting could all see the problems pedestrians and cyclists face at the location and an outline solution was agreed.  This included cutting back vegetation to improve sight lines and the provision of level surfaces on both sides of the road where pedestrians/cyclists can wait for gaps in the traffic.

 

Since the above meeting, the Forum has noted its repeated disappointment that no progress appeared to have been made.  However, recent emails from council officers (passed on by Cllr Fitzgerald) show that things are now moving ahead in a positive manner.  Council officers report that the issue has been included in their work programme for this financial year.  They have also had positive meetings with the Corporation of London (responsible for the forest land bordering the road) who have stated that they are keen for the proposals to go ahead.  Indeed, the Corporation have expressed a desire to increase the size of the crossing point on the eastern side of the road in order to provide emergency vehicle access if required (such as in the summer if a fire breaks out).  Formal proposals are being drawn up.

 

d)    Approaches in The Broadway and The Avenue

This item was reported by some attendees at the last meeting regarding a recent phenomenon of being approached for money in The Broadway and The Avenue.  The individuals concerned are not threatening and request very specific sums (e.g. £4.50).  It is believed that some (but possibly not all) of the individuals originate from a local facility which acts as a half-way house, offering therapeutic support to people with complex mental health problems.

 

Cllr Sheree Rackham notified Community Police officers and they have now taken up the issue to track down the culprits and deal with the problem sensitively.

 

e)    Reinstallation of historic information boards

At previous meetings, attendees reported that they had noticed the gradual decay and removal of the freestanding historical information boards in the park and on the green outside the Royal Oak.

 

Cllr Paul Braham is working with council officers to have them reinstated and noted that the Royal Oak board has now been removed for refurbishment.  The three in the park will follow in due course.

 

f)     Bus vibrations in The Avenue

At a previous meeting, Forum members living on The Avenue reported an increase in traffic vibration.  Ian Pleasance (Forum member who lives on The Avenue) believed he had identified the cause, namely some incomplete road repairs performed by a utility company.  He photographed the faults and, via Cllr Marion Fitzgerald, they were passed to council officers who agreed to organise repairs.

 

IP reports that the fault has now been "kind-of repaired", but it hasn't been properly levelled.  IP is chasing it up.  [Following the meeting, IP reported that it has now been levelled off].

 

9)         Action List: Review of outstanding items

The Action List was reviewed and updated (distributed separately from these minutes)

 

Re item A541 (Ching Path next to Walthamstow Stadium site):  MR reported that the path had now been correctly reinstated back to its original width.  However, he noted that some works had had to be performed to repair damage to the path caused by the developer's hoardings.  MR asked if it could be found out whether this repair was paid for by the developer or the council.

 

10)     Any other business

a)    Shops open on Sundays until Xmas

The following local independent shops wish it to be known that they will be opening 12 - 4 every Sunday from 30th November - 21st December:

·         XYLONITE ARTS - Winchester Road (Handmade gifts & pictures, etc. made by local artists)

·         OUTKAST SKATE SHOP - Winchester Road (Skateboards , Accessories and Clothing)

·         GRACE & ALBERT COOKSHOP - Hale End Road

·         V and A BOOKS AND GIFTS - The Avenue

b)    Request for cycle parking near station

A resident wishing to cycle to the station on weekdays has asked if any residents near the station would be prepared to let her leave her bike off road (in a sideway or drive).  She would be prepared to offer a payment or perhaps a £20 monthly donation to a charity of the owner's choice.  Those present at the meeting were not in a position to assist but if anyone reading these minutes can help, please email MP and he will pass on contact details.

c)    Traffic pollution by cars parked with engines running

Attendees noted that in the colder weather there was a trend for cars waiting for school children and minicabs waiting for fares to park with their engines running.  This leads to a local increase in air pollution and is an offense under the Road Traffic (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2002.

 

MW agreed to flag this with the Head at Handsworth Primary so parents can be reminded.

d)    Jazz at the County Arms

An attendee alerted attendees to the regular Jazz evenings at The County Arms on the 2nd Thursdays in the month.

 

11)     Items for next agenda

Revisit the issue of the River Ching footpath in Beech Hall Crescent (per item 4, last paragraph, above).

 

12)     Confirm date, time for next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 26th January 2015 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.
 

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