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 27th July 2015 (Approved)

 

 

Present:

Roger Torode, Jeff Beaton, John Avis, Trevor Calver, Gordon Turpin, Malcolm Caldwell,  Cllr Paul Braham, Chris Holmes, Oliver Shykles, Mike Payne, Mike Reddy, Frances Chalkwright

Apologies:

Anne Haines, Nicolas Haines, Steve Webb, Alina Harris, Mary Dunhill, Cllr Tim James, Roger Gillham, Cllr Marion Fitzgerald, Cllr Tony Bell, Mark Herring, Cllr Sheree Rackham

 

1)         Welcomes & Introductions

Oliver Shykles chaired the meeting and Mike Payne took the minutes

 

2)         Matters arising from minutes of meeting 15th June 2015

There were no matters arising.

 

3)         Feedback from Highams Park Day

Highams Park Day was the largest yet.  The most stalls, the most visitors, and the most entertainment.  The weather was kind and the event was considered a great success by all.

 

The Forum's tents were well received by visitors and the meeting especially thanked Mary Wilson and Jen Stallwood for their amazing work throughout the day, face painting huge numbers of small people.

 

Grateful thanks also go to the team who prepared the exhibits and set up and manned the tents on the day.  They were:  Alina Harris, Steve Webb, Mary Dunhill, Claire Kenny, Oliver Shykles & Mike Payne.

 

In the main Forum tent, visitors were asked to comment on a large map of the area showing Footpaths and Rights of Ways.  The Forum is seeking to have the council's "Definitive Map and Statement" (DMS) updated since it is known to be incomplete.  The DMS is the official record of rights of way.  Visitors were asked to mark on the map any paths they knew that were not shown.  OS said that between 10 and 15 new items were added by visitors, 3 of which were not previously known to him.

 

4)         New Neighbourhood Watch initiative

PCSO Sue Coughlan (Dedicated Ward Officer for the Hale End and Highams Park Safer Neighbourhood Team) has contacted the Forum with the following message:

 

The two teams Hale End and Hatch Lane are trying to build up Neighbourhood watch groups on the two wards.   I would be grateful if you could distribute this information to any of the Highams Park residents who you think would benefit.  We have been leafleting the roads in the wards to little effect and would appreciate your help.

  

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH cuts crime by between 16-26% in areas used.

 

Interested ?

Call 101 and ask for you Dedicated Ward Officer, or email WalthamForestNW@Met.police.uk

 

MP agreed to include the message in the minutes (as above).   It was also suggested that Cllrs could mention it at the next Community Ward Forum meeting.  GT volunteered to liaise with PCSO Coughlan to create an informative email on the subject which could be sent out by the HP Planning Group and HP Society.

 

It was pointed out that many insurance companies offer discounts on house insurance if the resident is part of a Neighbourhood Watch.

 

JB reported that the Neighbourhood Watch in Chapel End Ward has been very successful.

 

It was noted that sometimes other community events can arise out of a Neighbourhood Watch organisation (e.g. street parties).

 

TC stressed the need for a good committee.  He had seen problems when one person tries to do it all and has no backup.

 

5)         Residents' use of Library on closed days - proposal

MP reported that the HP Planning Group is currently exploring an idea to make better use of the library in Highams Park on days when it is closed.  The library is currently closed on three days a week (Monday, Thursday and Sunday).  The idea is that The Planning Group will set up a volunteer organisation to organise and run events in the library facilities on the closed days.  This would not be to operate the book lending service but rather to make use of the community rooms and the car park/open space for a programme of educational and cultural activities.  A group known as "The Bridge" operate a similar scheme in Lea Bridge Library.

 

Highams Park's Library (official name "Hale End Library") has two excellent, well equipped, community rooms upstairs (accessible by a lift) and an attractive car park at the rear for external events.  The Planning Group want to maximise the use of these valuable community assets.

 

The proposal has been well received informally and The Planning Group now await a formal response from library management in order to take the idea further forward.

 

6)         New CPZ Consultation

Council Officers have initiated a new consultation examining whether Highams Park residents would like the introduction of a CPZ (Controlled Parking Zone).  This is a scheme where residents and visitors require permits to park in certain roads at certain times of the day.  The intention of the scheme is to make it easier for residents to park by discouraging vehicles from outside the area.  Such schemes however come with a cost and a level of inconvenience.  As a result, views of residents are very divided on the subject. 

 

This will be the fifth time such a consultation has been performed. Previous consultations took place in 2001, 2003, 2008, and 2012. In each of these previous cases the proposal was rejected by residents (albeit narrowly in some cases).

The proposed zone this time covers only part of Highams Park and residents in that area have been sent a consultation document and have been asked to respond with their views by Monday 10th August 2015.  A copy of this document (and the map of the zone) can be seen by going to the Forum's website (www.highamsparkforum.co.uk) and visiting the "News" page.

 

OS introduced the topic to the meeting and all agreed that, because opinion was divided, the Forum should not take a position on the issue but should attempt to make sure all aspects (positive and negative) are properly aired and then encourage all residents in the zone to respond to the consultation.

 

Residents will need to read the documents fully and think very carefully, weighing up the pros and cons before voting one way or the other.  The decision will be based on a simple majority of the views of those who respond to the consultation. No assumption will be made as to the views of those who don't respond.  It is therefore very important that as many residents as possible send in responses so the result (whatever it is) is a true reflection of all residents.

 

The Forum has debated the subject on numerous occasions and these discussions revealed that the subject is more complex than it first appears. The benefits are easy to see but the downsides are not necessarily immediately obvious. For example:

·         Purchasing a permit does not guarantee a parking place.

·         Parking capacity in a road can actually be reduced by the scheme. Residents who currently park across their own driveways will not be permitted to do so even if they have a permit so they have to park elsewhere, taking a space.

·         Visitors will need to find somewhere to park, go to their friends house, obtain enough visitor's parking permits for the number of hours they are planning to stay, and then go back to their car (wherever they parked it) to display the permits. Same for tradesmen.

·         There is no limit on the number of permits per household. If residents have restricted their purchase of additional vehicles because of lack of parking it could allow the purchase of more vehicles.

 

RT expressed regret that The Planning Group was not consulted by council officers prior to sending out the consultation.  The Planning Group had recently conducted its own detailed survey on parking to assess residents' views with the intention of coming up with an approach which would be less divisive than previously.  Some options which were polled and were popular in The Planning Group's survey have not been included in the council's survey.

 

RT also expressed concern that the Waltham Forest Guardian had selectively quoted from documents from the Group.  The Planning Group (like the Forum) is taking a balanced view on the subject but this is not how it appeared in the newspaper.

 

There was some confusion regarding how Jack's Farm Way would be treated in any CPZ.  This road (in common with others in the Highams Green Development) already operates a CPZ but it can be seen to be included within the boundary of the proposed new CPZ.  Residents of Coolgardie Avenue have found that Highams Green residents often park in their road, reducing the amount of parking available.  If one CPZ covers both areas, this will not help Coolgardie residents.

 

TC wondered if the residents of Highams Green (or any other existing CPZ streets) were in receipt of the new consultation document and also whether they were being separately asked if they wanted to continue with their existing scheme or become part of the new scheme.  The standard consultation document does not ask this question.

 

On a separate, but related topic, attendees commented on current parking arrangements in the shopping area:

·      In Highams Park, there is 15 minutes free parking in bays before charges apply.  Some attendees were puzzled as to why different arrangements apply in other parts of the borough.  It is believed that schemes exist that have free periods of 20 minutes, 30 minutes and 2 hours.

·      Beyond 15 minutes, payment for parking involves using a mobile phone.  Attendees were unclear as to whether payment for parking by paper voucher was being withdrawn.  GT volunteered to find out.

 

7)         Brief Updates:

GT (Chair of The Highams Park Planning Group) reported on a number of topics:

·         HP Plan update

The Group currently has 5 questionnaires available online asking residents their opinions on a number of topics to ensure that the Planning Group is properly representing their views.  The questionnaires are available to complete online by visiting the Planning Group website (highamsparkplan.org) and then following the link on the left hand side of the home page.  The questionnaires will close in September so the Group can analyse the results.

·         The redevelopment of the old Regal cinema building

Although residents may be concerned that there is no visible progress, there is in fact much discussion behind the scenes between owner, developer and council.  We should see welcome announcements in the not too distant future.

·         The Elephant & Tortoise Artwork

This project has stalled for a number of reasons up until recently, but we are aware that the problems are now largely resolved and (again) we should see welcome announcements in the not too distant future.

·         Café in the Park

The Planning Group is attempting to drive a project to create a café in The Highams Park (the park adjacent to Highams Park Lake).  The proposal is to take over and refurbish the disused building (owned by the council) in the park.

 

Outline discussions have been held with the council and the project has been given what could be described as an "amber light" by the council (but not a "green light").  The council are viewing the idea with some caution and want to see more detailed proposals and business plans.  The Planning Group will now put these together.

 

8)         TfL takeover of the Chingford to Liverpool Street line - Update

RT brought attendees up to date on the works associated with the takeover by Transport for London of the Chingford-Liverpool Street line.

 

Rail users report that most of the initial teething problems seem to have been resolved and the majority of feedback has been very positive.

 

The station garden (maintained by members of the Highams Park Society) has been entered in the station gardens competition.

 

New "Overground" signage has been installed and the station has been surveyed for maintenance works.

 

The sign that has been installed in front of the garden has been flagged as a problem.  Not only does it block the view of the garden but it also creates an obstacle during the morning rush hour for passengers who are attempting to move down the platform.  They are then forced to walk on the garden.  The operators are looking to relocate the sign.

 

New rolling stock is scheduled for 2018.  It is expected to be like that used on the rest of the Overground branded lines.

 

In due course, ticket barriers (AKA "gates") will be installed in the station.  It is recognised that the design of the station makes this difficult and that previous attempts to install gates were not successful.  TfL have been approached, to ask them to consult users before proceeding to ensure the final solution is workable.

 

MR related an unsympathetic experience when he accidentally left his paper season ticket at home and was fined £80 (or £40 if paid early).  He hopes that he will be able to reclaim this.  Previous operators seem to have had a more flexibility when presented with this (not uncommon) situation.

 

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

·         Rubbish bags left by lampposts

JB reported that rubbish bags continue to be left at the wrong times by lampposts in Hale End Road, Winchester Road, and The Broadway.  The bags originate from shops and flats above shops.  The collection days and times are stated on signs on the lampposts but bags are put out outside of these times.  There is then the opportunity for foxes to open the bags and create a mess.

 

Highams Park now has a dedicated LBWF enforcement officer (Emmanuel Banton) as part of the new Neighbourhood Teams reorganisation.  Cllr Braham offered to ask the officer to follow this up.  OS agreed to email Cllr Braham with the details.

 

It is understood that some fixed penalty fines have been issued to residents putting out bags at the wrong times.

·         Forum Finances

The Forum does not incur heavy expenditure in its operation but the cost of hiring its meeting room and paying for the hosting of its website mounts up over time.  These costs require to be reimbursed and current funds are exhausted.

 

Earlier in the year the Forum applied to the Community Ward Forums (Hatch Lane and Highams Park & Hale End) for a grant (£300 each making a total of £600).  RT has received confirmation that the grant has been approved and is in the process of completing the necessary paperwork to release the funds.

·         Epping Forest Consultation

The Corporation of the City of London (who manage Epping Forest) have commenced a consultation on their 10 year management plan for the forest.  This is an extensive document covering every aspect of the forest and its use.  The consultation runs until 20th September and residents can comment online by following this link: www.consult.cityoflondon.gov.uk

 

The forest runs through much of Highams Park.  The lake and the area around it are formally part of the forest and are covered by this plan.

·         Begging

Some attendees had noticed the occurrence of begging in the shopping area.  Sometimes this has been seen inside shops.  Although not threatening, it was felt that this should be nipped in the bud.  Community Police say they will deal with this if they are advised it is taking place.  They have asked any residents encountering this to ring 101 and let them know.  Shopkeepers will have CCTV to prove what is happening.

 

Some attendees were disappointed that this hadn't been followed up by police already since the shopkeepers will be able to show them the CCTV.

·         Picnic in the Park

GT advised attendees that following the success of last year's event, The Picnic in the Park event will take place on Sunday 6th September 2015 in The Highams Park.

 

11)     Items for next agenda

·      Public Toilets: Can we expand and publicise the Community Toilet Scheme in Highams Park?

 

12)     Confirm date, time for next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 14th September 2015 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.
 

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