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 6th March 2017 (Approved)

 

 

Present:

Roger Torode, Anne Haines, Trevor Calver, John Avis, Chris  Holmes, Mark Herring, Nicolas Haines, Cllr Tony Bell, Cllr Marion Fitzgerald, Oliver Shykles, Mike Payne, Cllr Tim James, Jeff Beaton,

Apologies:

Mary Wilson, Ian Thomson, Gordon Turpin, Cllr Sheree Rackham, Steve Webb, Robert Tatam, David Roper, Graham Reeve

 

1)         Welcomes & Introductions

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

 

2)         Matters arising from minutes of meeting 23rd January 2017

There were no matters arising.

 

3)         Election of officers for 2017

No new members volunteered to stand for roles so the existing committee stated that they would be willing to continue in posts.  Election of the committee was taken en bloc and the vote was unanimous in favour.  As a result the committee remains as follows:

 

Chair:

Oliver Shykles

Vice Chair:

Graham Reeve

Secretary:

Mike Payne

Treasurer

Roger Torode

 

The committee noted that new blood was desirable in the committee and asked potential candidates to consider a position in the longer term.

 

4)         Community Ward Forums cease after March 2017 - Implications & actions needed

"Community Ward Forums" (CWFs) are regular meetings chaired by ward councillors where residents of the ward listen to speakers on subjects relevant to the ward (e.g. the local police teams) and get the chance to raise issues with councillors and council officers.  These meetings are also the focus for assessing support for projects seeking funding from a portion of the £10k allocated to each ward for residents' projects each year.

 

The council has decided that CWFs will cease at the end of the financial year (i.e. end of March 2017).  The minutes of the council meeting relating to this decision can be found online by clicking the link below.  Then scroll down to item 50a.  You'll see that you can expand the text to see the full motion and the full decision text.  Note that the motion was changed as a result of the discussion so the motion and decision differ.

Link : http://democracy.walthamforest.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=4066

 

[If you are reading a paper copy of these minutes, the above link is awkward to type, so you can find the minutes by using a google search for "lbwf council minutes 15th December 2017".]

 

The attendees of tonight's HP Forum meeting discussed the subject and had numerous concerns but acknowledged that the council had yet to decide what engagement strategy would replace the CWFs. The council has initiated a review on the subject which will result in a report being produced.  It was agreed that the Forum should look out for this and comment on it when it is available.  At the moment, attendees realised they were expressing concern as to what "might" happen.  It was felt that it would have been better if the council had proposed the replacement engagement strategy before announcing the scrapping of the CWFs.  By leaving a vacuum it has led to concerns among residents.

 

Attendees would be looking for the replacement strategy to properly address the following:

a)      The need to understand why attendance at CWFs in some areas has been so poor.  We must not assume we know why people don't come.  We need to ask and ensure any new strategy deals with the real problem, not our guess as to what the problem might be.

b)      The value of residents discussing local matters together, in a group environment, rather than just 1:1 with councillors.  Sometimes better thought out ways forward can result.

c)       Seeking residents' views on how to spend monies allocated to the ward.

d)      The need to provide an easy vehicle for other bodies to address groups of residents to seek feedback on proposed initiatives.

 

Cllr Tony Bell explained that the councillors for Hale End & Highams Park ward have actually set dates for Ward Forum style meetings in 2017 pending the results of the review.  The dates set are 7th June and 4th October.

 

5)         Action List: Review of outstanding items

The Action List was reviewed and updated (distributed separately from these minutes).  The meeting was able to close 7 points and a number showed good progress.  Two points of specific interest were:

·         A423 (problems with the fabric of the station and subway):  Some of the long standing items listed have now been addressed by the current works at the station.  The Forum will revisit when TfL works are complete and it will be monitored at the council Transport Liaison meeting.  It was noted that the fencing installed was better and more attractive than the standard TfL offering.  This had been agreed following representations from the Highams Park Planning Group's Transport section.

·         A600 (problems of large vehicles turning from Wadham Road into Winchester Road):  Cllr Tony Bell had explored whether it was possible raise a traffic order to ban all HGVs from Winchester Road but had discovered that this was not possible because it is only a "B" road.  He had also requested that the signage be reviewed.  A more prominent "Unsuitable for HGVs" sign would be desirable in Wadham Road.  The existing sign is too small and is situated so it can only be seen once drivers have committed to the turn.
[After the meeting JB advised that a new sign had just been installed in Wadham Road which might satisfy the requirement.  JB will report back with details at next meeting.]

 

6)         The Signal Box - a success story:  15th anniversary of  being saved; now open as "La Boite"

MP was pleased to report on the recent opening of the café/creperie "La Boite" in the signal box building next to the level crossing.  This building was saved from demolition by the actions of the Forum and others on 26th February 2002.  There then followed 15 years of trials and tribulations, successes and setbacks, trying to find a practical solution as to what to do with the box.  During this frustrating time the box was left empty.  However, the story now has a happy ending and the outcome has been warmly received.

 

MP is in the process of writing up "The Story of the Signal Box" and will post it on the Forum's website when complete (in a week or two's time).

 

[ Added after the meeting: "The Story of the Signal Box" is now complete and can be viewed by following this link: http://www.highamsparkforum.co.uk/signalbox.html   ]

 

OS suggested that the Signal Box could be the subject for the Forum's display at this year's Highams Park Day (15th July) and this was agreed by attendees.

 

The meeting thanked all those involved in saving the box, and reaching this outcome, but especially singled out former Forum chair Roger Torode for all his efforts.

 

MP asked the meeting's view on a suggestion that the Forum might invite one of the popular London bloggers to visit Highams Park.  The bloggers report on their experiences of interesting and unusual "days out" in London.  Their reports are followed by large numbers of people.  The idea is to suggest a visit to La Boite, followed by an explanation of the two meridians (Greenwich Meridian and GPS Meridian; sat nav shows zero longitude in the station garden) and a walk round Highams Park Lake (showing off all the work of locals).  One blogger in particular likes transport and heritage so our offering would be a good match.  The meeting enthusiastically supported the idea and thought it would be good for local commerce.

 

7)         Transport & Street Scene

a)    Changes to parking signs in Winchester Road (no longer show 1 hr free 13:00 - 14:00)

Following recent decisions regarding parking in the shopping area, it had been agreed that the free 15 minutes would remain and that in addition there would be a free hour between 1pm and 2pm.  JB noted that the free lunchtime hour used to feature on the signs in Winchester Road but now appears to have been removed.  Cllr Tony Bell agreed to check.

 

b)    Parking on "footpath" next to Tesco

A resident had reported to the Forum that vans were regularly parking on the footway of Jubilee Avenue next to the Tesco building at the junction of Larkshall Road.  It seemed likely that the spaces occupied were actually part of the Tesco site and not public land (the vehicles were off the official public footpath).  Based on previous experiences, the Forum is aware that such parking is considered a "moving traffic violation".  In this case, it is not necessarily an offence to park in that location but it is an offence to cross the public footpath to get to the location.  Despite the fact that it is obvious that vehicles must have crossed the footpath, the event has to be witnessed to report an offence.

 

OS explained that the vans seem to be involved in the fit out of a new shop just around the corner in Larkshall Road and it seemed reasonable that their presence was temporary.  The meeting agreed that it did not want to interfere with this fit out and would take no action at present but would monitor the situation post the completion of the fit out.

 

c)    Lighting outside Tesco (signal walk)

OS reported on problems with the lighting in Signal Walk outside the entrance to Tesco.  The lights have been described as being "like Christmas tree lights; if one goes out it takes out all the others".  The Elephant & Tortoise sculpture lighting is on the same circuit and goes out too.  Signal Walk has recently been in darkness for 7 days.  This can make the location feel intimidating.

 

OS agreed to arrange a ward walk with the new Tesco manger (due to start 6th March) to highlight the issue.  Cllr Tony Bell was aware that sometimes problems in this location "fall between the cracks" because it is not clear whether responsibility lies with Tesco or the council.  As a result he suggested involving council officer Emmanuel Banton as well as the Tesco manager to ensure this does not happen.

 

d)    Lack of coordination of multiple roadworks

Graham Reeve has written to council officers highlighting the lack of coordination in the large number of simultaneous roadworks taking place in the area.  The knock on effect has caused a lot of congestion and it would have been better if their implementation dates had been staggered.

 

8)         Planning & Development

a)    Redevelopment of Naseberry Court medical centre (on Larkshall Road) to residential

This item was discussed at the last Forum meeting.  It relates to a planning application (dated 31st October) to develop the site of Naseberry Court medical centre (on Larkshall Road).  This is planning ref 163572 and proposes the development of 48 residential units of various sizes.

 

It was agreed that the Forum should monitor this.

 

Since the last Forum meeting, no decision has been noted against the application on the LBWF Planning Web Pages and it has not been placed on a Planning Committee agenda.

 

b)    Proposed development at 70 The Avenue, opening onto Castle Avenue

This item was discussed at the previous Forum meetings and relates to a proposal to demolish half a semi-detached garage and create a small residential property on a very constrained plot at the bottom of a garden in The Avenue.  The plot would open onto Castle Avenue.  The development would be problematic for a number of reasons discussed at previous meetings.

 

The planning application has reference 161280 and the application date was 30th November 2016.

 

Planning officers recommended to planning committee that they should approve the development but planning committee refused it at their meeting of 8th February 2017, voting 3-2 against.

 

[Added after the meeting:  A new application, ref 170468 (dated 10th March) has now been submitted.  This application proposes a 2 storey house in the same location as the refused sunken bungalow.  Closing date for comments to planning department is 31st March.]

 

9)         Brief Updates:

a)    HP Plan update

MP reported for Gordon Turpin, chair of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG), who was unable to attend the meeting.  A large number of projects are being pursued and are making good progress.  The Plan itself is now ready for consultation with residents.  This will take place as soon as the library consultation (mentioned below) is complete.  The consultation materials are in the final stages of completion.

 

The organisation held its AGM on 16th February at 7:30pm in All Saints Church, updating members on progress and plans.  This was well attended.

 

b)    Hale End Library in Highams Park

This item relates to the council's proposals during 2016 to relocate the library to smaller premises next to Tesco.  The proposal assumed that increased usage would occur at a new location.  Following representations by residents, the proposal to relocate the library is now on hold and HPPG is taking a key role in working with officers to increase usage of the library in its current location thereby removing the need to move it.

 

A survey has been constructed which has been distributed to all Highams Park residents to determine what they would like to see in the building.  The survey encourages residents to think outside of what a traditional library offers.  Based on the responses to this survey, it is hoped radically new facilities and events can be organised.  The survey is live now and closes on 17th March 2017.  If you have not yet completed the survey, please do so by following this link: tinyurl.com/highamsparklibrary

 

A major event, taking place on Saturday 22nd April, will be publicised shortly.  This is "Love Hale End Library Day & Vintage Market".  This will showcase the facilities of the library whilst demonstrating its potential to host new and previously unthought-of activities, not only in the arts but also in science and technology.  A large number of exhibits and activities are being planned for the day involving both floors of the building, the green at the front, and the car park at the rear.

 

c)    Adopting Phone Boxes for other uses

At the last meeting a Forum member drew the meeting's attention to a scheme operated by British Telecom whereby communities can adopt a classic red phone box for £1 and put it to a good use (e.g. Little Library, Defibrillator station, mini-shop, WiFi hub).

 

At that meeting GT agreed to provide a list (created by the HPPG) of public phones.

 

GT reported (via MP) on the locations in Highams Park as follows:

 

1.       Outside the library -  a shoulder height booth

2.       In The Avenue opposite the station - a glass phone box with the surrounds painted black

3.       By the Clock Tower near the level crossing - a shoulder height booth

4.       On north side of the Broadway (1 of 2) - a shoulder height booth

5.       On north side of the Broadway (2 of 2) - a glass phone box with the surrounds painted black

6.       On the green outside the Royal Oak PH - a glass phone box with the surrounds silver and black

 

Unfortunately none of these qualify as classic red phone boxes and so can't be adopted under the scheme.

 

d)    Preservation of heritage from Selwyn School redevelopment

OS was pleased to report that the developers of Selwyn School are taking action to preserve key features of the old buildings and have been consulting local historians for advice.

 

e)    Unplanted tree plots in Highams Park shopping area

GT had reminded council officers about two unplanted plots for trees (prepared some time ago) in The Avenue next to the station.  Officers responded promptly and two new trees have been planted.

 

f)     Update on Station works

The original schedule from TfL was for the works on the main building to be complete in December 2016 and the new building (on the footpath to Larkshall Road to be completed in February 2017).  Observers will note that neither of these works is near completion.  In an update published at the end of February, TfL explained that numerous problems have been encountered which have caused delays.  It is now expected that the new building (on the footpath) will come into use in May 2017.

 

g)    Community Toilets signage

It was noted at previous meetings that there was no central sign indicating the location of the Community Toilets.  Other shopping centres have such a sign and Cllr Marion Fitzgerald had requested that officers consider installing such a sign in the Highams Park shopping centre.  JB had pointed out previously that there is a Community Toilets sign on the corner of The Broadway and Larkshall Road but it doesn't have a map and it doesn't specify locations.

 

No progress had been seen so Cllr Fitzgerald stated that she would request an update from officers.

 

Currently 3 community toilets are understood to be registered in Highams Park.  These are:

 

1.       The Highams Lounge café in The Avenue

2.       Chives café in Winchester Road

3.       The Library (but unfortunately this is closed 3 days a week)

 

10)     Information received

a)    Community Road Watch

The Forum has been asked to inform residents of a new scheme being introduced into Waltham Forest.

It is explained as follows:

**************************************************************************

Community Roadwatch gives local residents the opportunity to work side by side with their local police teams, and use speed detection equipment to identify speeding vehicles in their communities. Warning letters will be issued where appropriate, and the information can help to inform the future activity of local police teams.

To take part in Community Roadwatch, or to suggest a residential area where there are community concerns around speeding, contact CommunityRoadwatch@met.police.uk stating the borough you live in. Your enquiry will be forwarded to your local MPS Safer Transport Team, who will be in touch.

**************************************************************************

OS stated that he was looking to meet with the organisers (with representatives of the HPPG).

 

b)    Genealogy day at the library

MP reported on Genealogy Day at the library.  This is 11th March 10am-2pm and volunteers will be available to guide visitors with their research.

 

If you can't make this, there is a Genealogy display from Walthamstow School for Girls in the library.

 

c)    "The Great Get Together"

The Forum had been notified of a national event scheduled for 17-18th June 2017 known as "The Great Get Together (in honour of MP Jo Cox)".  This encourages people to organise picnics, street parties, etc. across the country.

 

Whilst attendees were fully supportive of the spirit behind this proposal, they didn't think there was scope in the already busy Highams Park calendar for any more large scale events.

 

These minutes may however alert individuals to the campaign and they may be able to organise smaller events.

 

11)     Any other business

a)    Tesco Car Park "Switch off engines" signs

As reported at previous Forum meetings, many residents have complained about the poor air quality in the Tesco car park.  The Forum suggested that signs requesting drivers to turn off engines might help.  Forum member David Roper has been liaising with Tesco management to achieve this.

 

As a result of DR's efforts "No idling" signs were erected in January but they are very small and it is expected that drivers will not even notice them and there are only five notices anyway.  DR has been talking to the store manager who promised to talk to head office to see whether it is possible to order some bigger notices.

 

Unfortunately the store manager has now permanently left the Highams Park store and a new manager starts 6th March 2017.   DR has a promise from one of the duty managers that he will pursue this matter and inform the new manager.

b)    Winchester Road Pinch Point Parking (between Newbury & Cavendish Roads)

An attendee noted a recent trend for parking on the single yellow line on Winchester Road between Newbury & Cavendish Roads.  This parking is taking place totally legally (within the correct hours and wholly on the road, not the pavement), but because this location is a pinch point of the road, it is causing significant problems for traffic.  The pinch point is presumably why the single yellow line was installed along this short stretch of road.

 

Attendees were unclear as to the best solution.  Double yellow lines could be considered, as could removing the single yellow line and allowing "wheels on the pavement" parking in the same manner as the rest of the road.

c)    Waltham Forest Spring Clean (17/18/19 March 2017)

The annual spring clean organised for volunteers by the council is taking place on 17/18/19 March 2017.  Attendees were unaware of any Highams Park wide activities although individual roads can be expected to participate.  AH stated that Abbotts Crescent residents are planning working parties in their road.

 

12)     Items for next agenda

None were identified at this meeting.

 

13)     Confirm date, time for next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 24th April 2017 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.
 

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