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 14th September 2015
There were no matters arising.
3) Setting the dates for Highams Park Forum meetings in 2016
The proposed dates for meetings in 2016 (distributed with the agenda) were reviewed and it was noted that the one proposed for 25JAN16 clashed with a meeting of Conservative Group Councillors. As a result it was agreed to move this Forum meeting to the previous Monday, 18JAN16. With this one exception, the proposed dates were agreed by the meeting and The Selwyn Lounge will be booked by MP for these dates.
MP will distribute the approved list to Forum members.
4) Proposed turning restrictions (Haldan & Cavendish roads)? Clarification
MH explained that he had sought clarification and had determined that suggestions that there would be turning restrictions at Haldan and Cavendish Roads were unfounded. Any restrictions (if they were to occur at all) would only be temporary during the current road works.
5) Tesco Land Sell off
The meeting noted press reports that Tesco had sold off 14 parcels of land across the country including one in Highams Park, this being the undeveloped land adjacent to the store. The proposed use of this land is not known at this time but it was agreed that the Forum should monitor closely the nature of any proposed development on the site.
6) Forum representation at Ward Walks
Council Officers and Councillors take part in regular "ward walks" to study various aspects of their wards first hand and agree any action that is necessary. One of these walks (for Hale End & Highams Park ward) is to take place on Thursday 26th November and the Forum has been invited to send a representative. OS agreed to attend for the Forum.
The walk of 26th November will focus on the shopping area and Forum involvement will not cause a problem, but it was noted by Councillors that when walks are scheduled to travel into residential areas (to deal with issues raised by individual residents) then these matters would be confidential and it would not be appropriate for a Forum representative to be present.
A ward walk that took place last Friday picked up on the problem of the clothing recycling container outside the library in Castle Avenue. People were leaving bags by its side and it was becoming an eyesore.
[Note following the meeting: Members report that the recycling bin has now been removed].
7) Brief Updates:
a. HP Plan update
GT reported for the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG). The main thrust at the moment was collating the results of the "Issues & Options Surveys" which Highams Park residents have been asked to complete. These surveys, on a wide range of subjects, will act as evidence to show that the planning group properly understands the issues identified by residents and that the options chosen to address the issues have strong support from residents.
The surveys closed last Sunday and following analysis, the results will be put online for public viewing.
GT was very pleased with the level of responses received and attendees complimented the planning group as to the scope and coverage of the surveys.
These results will now allow the plan (already created as a rough draft) to be firmed up, confident that it properly represents widespread residents' views.
b. Old Regal Cinema Site
Cllr TB (via MP) advised that things are moving quickly now. The council is working with a cinema operator and together they are moving to acquire the site and discussions with the council's planning team are expected to start in the near future on a detailed redevelopment scheme.
c. Elephant & Tortoise Artwork
GT explained that the current plan is for the artwork to be unveiled on Friday 18th December 2015. This date is not 100% guaranteed since some practical issues may cause minor delays. The original plan was for the work to be unveiled at the Christmas Fayre on 20th December but this proved to be impractical since some of the parties concerned would not be available. Earlier issues surrounding precisely where the artwork would be installed have now been resolved.
d. Residents' use of Library on closed days - proposal
A proposal from the HPPG is being considered by library management. Under this proposal a residents' group would be formed to manage the library meeting rooms on the days when the library is closed. This organisation would organise a programme of activities in the rooms for the benefit of residents. The proposal is still being considered.
e. Lake water quality problem and steps to resolve
The recent dredging of the lake has had some unfortunate unintended consequences. The Corporation of the City of London (CoL) who are responsible for the lake have explained to GT that the removal of plant life and the stirring up of nutrients has disturbed the balance of the lake and recent unusual weather has caused a temperature inversion in the water. The end result is that oxygen levels in the water have dropped dramatically. Whereas the level should be 70% it has actually been as low as 3%. Fish have been dying and an unpleasant smell has been noted.
CoL have been running aerator machinery to inject more oxygen. Local residents have been assisting by taking shifts to look after the equipment. This has raised oxygen levels slightly (to 7%) and this has helped, but more work is needed and the aerating equipment will be running for some time into the future until the situation stabilises.
Other ideas which may be implemented include "chalking" the lake and the installation of a wind powered aerator on one of the islands.
f. Café in the Park
A sub group of the HPPG has been working on a proposal to convert the disused building in the park (beside the lake) into a café with internal toilets. This was the most requested facility when the Planning Group asked residents for suggestions on things to improve Highams Park.
CoL are supportive of the proposal in principle but the council (who own the building) want to see firm designs and a viable business case before they give their approval. They also want to see demonstration of support from residents. As a result, the Planning Group have being surveying residents for their views and have produced outline designs and schematics for the conversion of the building. These, together with an outline business plan have been shown to the council and they have encouraged the group to continue and produce the next stage of more detailed work.
g. Community Toilet Scheme in Highams Park
Following the last meeting of the Forum, MP contacted Gill Poulter who (in the HPPG) has been discussing the Community Toilet Scheme with shops. She reports that she has sent an email to all the traders and has gone round to the ones most likely. However, so far the only one that has gone for it is The Highams Lounge. They are all signed up. At the moment they only have one toilet, but after the rebuild they will have a disabled one and baby changing. Grace and Albert have looked at it but they have two steps up and it is outside so not really appropriate.
The Highams Lounge is open 6am - 6pm, 6 days a week, sometimes 7. Gill points out that, although not part of the official scheme, we have Tesco toilets available 7 days a week and into the evening. We also have The County and The Royal Oak that have public toilets.
h. NO2 pollution in Highams Park (incl. level crossing turn off engine signage)
This topic was a continuation of that at the last Forum meeting which had been truncated due to time constraints.
Attendees restated their concern regarding NO2 levels in some parts of Highams Park. This is a widespread problem in London but annotated maps show that locally the problem areas are largely centred on roads with stationary traffic and that diesel vehicles are the main culprits. It was agreed that the Forum should campaign for drivers to turn off their engines when it is clear they will be stationary for more than a few seconds.
The two suggestions put forward at the last meeting were restated and OS agreed to take them forward:
· Some signage at the level crossing asking drivers to turn off their engines while waiting for the barrier to rise. The area around the level crossing is shown as one of the problem areas on the map and this simple measure could make a significant difference. Although the signage would only be seen by drivers at the front of the queue, all regular drivers would eventually see the signage over a period of time.
· Requesting parents waiting to collect children from school to turn off their engines (left on for air con in summer, and heating in winter).
At the last meeting, attendees expressed concern that road layout changes (inside or outside of Highams Park) for the Mini Holland Cycling project might cause changes in traffic flow in Highams Park. If this caused additional congestion this could increase NO2 levels in the congested roads. This would defeat some of the objectives that Mini Holland seeks to address. Attendees suggested that before committing to some of the road layout changes (road closures etc.) it would be a good idea to implement them on a temporary basis to determine the impact.
i. 20mph/humps consultation
This item relates to the proposal by the council to implement widespread 20mph speed limits in the roads of Highams Park with the installation of large numbers of speed humps to force adherence to the limit. The public consultation on the scheme closed 12th October 2015. Results are not public at this time.
Attendees noted that there appeared to be widespread support for the speed limits but lots of concern about the humps. There were fears of increasing response times of emergency vehicles and increased NO2 with cars speeding up and slowing down. Documents tabled by members highlight studies which show that the increase in NO2 associated with speed humps can be very significant (~37%) if they force vehicles to slow down and speed up. Vehicles moving at a steady 20mph don't cause this problem but often hump designs don't permit this despite what their designers say.
Attendees supported the idea of traditional enforcement methods such as speed guns. It was noted that 20mph limits without humps or enforcement are often ignored.
Attendees noted that the installation of significant number of humps in no-through roads seemed unnecessarily excessive.
There were mixed views about the use of small humps (known as cushions) which don't straddle the whole road. Whilst they have less impact on emergency vehicles and buses, some attendees were concerned that they can encourage car drivers to weave.
j. Protecting Rights of Way in Highams Park
HPPG are also looking at this issue (to properly record rights of way so they are not lost by future developments). It was noted that the parties concerned need to liaise with each other, viz:
· The Forum (OS & Michael Reddy)
· The Ramblers (David Boote)
· The HPPG (Janet McArthy)
k. Rubbish bags in the shopping area
This ongoing problem discussed previously at Forum meetings was highlighted at last Fridays ward walk (see item 6 above) and was noted by council officers for enforcement. Attendees observed that as they walked through the shopping area this evening it looked much improved.
l. Paper Parking vouchers - further clarification received
At the last meeting GT volunteered to determine whether it was easy for retailers to still obtain paper parking vouchers for their customers to use. The council has introduced "pay by phone" for parking and there were fears that the paper vouchers may not be readily available.
GT asked in one shop as a test case and found that the shopkeeper was still receiving regular supplies and there are no signs of them stopping being available.
m. Signal Box
RT reported that the works inside the Signal Box by Dendale Construction had been delayed whilst awaiting approval by Network Rail (NR). RT had been able to assist in this process by approaching some contacts in NR to untangle the log-jam and processes are now understood to be moving again.
8) Feedback from recent Community Ward Forum Meetings
JB reported two points from the Chapel End ward meeting:
· The ward is the 2nd best in the borough for the health of its residents (Endlebury ward is number 1)
· The council now has powers to force residents to tidy their front and rear gardens
MP reported on a couple of points from the police representative at the Hale End & Highams Park ward meeting (based on a copy of the minutes):
· Vehicle and house burglaries have gone down. There has only been one house burglary in the last 6 months
· Some thefts from sheds have occurred
· There was concern over the possible impact of the police spending review in December. Will the PCSOs still be funded? Attendees of the meeting who were concerned about this issue were encouraged to write to Boris Johnson. Cllrs agreed to pass these letters on if they are sent to them.
· There has been some incidence of stealing car number plates. Use of stolen number plates to obtain petrol has been observed by police. Special number plate screws can be obtained which are hard to remove.
Each ward has £10,000 to spend on projects nominated by residents of the ward. The allocation of this spending for the financial year 2016-7 will commence shortly as follows:
Closing date for submissions
· Hale End & Highams Park ward: Clarification awaited
· Hatch Lane ward: Friday 8th January 2016
Meeting where residents will vote on submissions:
· Hale End & Highams Park ward: Thursday 3rd December 2015
· Hatch Lane ward: Thursday 4th February 2016
9) Information Received
a. Free Smart Water kits
Smart Water is an invisible liquid containing a code unique to the owner which can be used to mark property so it can be returned to the owner in the event of a theft. Its presence in a property is known to be a deterrent. The Met have a programme to distribute Smart Water kits free to properties across London. Roll out is phased but residents who are interested can contact their Neighbourhood Police team. More details on this initiative can be found by performing an internet search for the words "Met Trace".
b. Local History talks and new books commissioned (free copies available)
To commemorate the anniversary of 50 years since the formation of The London Borough of Waltham Forest, the council have commissioned four new local history books:
i. Waltham Forest Through Time: Highams Park and the Railway
ii. Waltham Forest Through Time: Chingford
iii. Waltham Forest Through Time: Walthamstow
iv. Waltham Forest Through Time: Leyton
Four talks have been organised (one on each book) given by the author at which free copies of the books will be available. Booking is essential. Details available on the What's On page of the Forum's website.
c. Next Community Ward Forum Meeting
Hatch Lane Ward :
Thursday 26th November 2015,
7pm for 7:30pm,
10) Action List: Review of outstanding items
A number of the items on the action list had been addressed by the normal progress of the meeting. To save time, the remainder were not reviewed by the meeting but MP will review and update the list outside of the meeting based on his knowledge of progress.
11) Any other business
The meeting congratulated RT on the publication of his book "Privatising
· It was noted that formal announcements in local newspaper show that new yellow lines are planned in The Avenue. These appear to be addressing the problem raised at earlier Forum meetings (Action List #569) where some bad parking by commuters causes problems for large vehicles (especially buses) in a narrow part of The Avenue.
· JB reported that new street lighting heads have been recently installed in a number of roads leading off the southern end of Winchester Road (e.g. Evanston, Alma, Swanage, Wickham and Lyndhurst). JB felt that these were a great improvement, giving a bright and even light.
12) Items for next agenda
· RT to present his new book
13) Confirm date, time for next meeting
meeting will be held on Monday 7th December 2015 at 7:30pm in the
Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.