Highams Park Forum
HIGHAMS PARK FORUM
1) Welcomes & Introductions
Oliver Shykles chaired the meeting and Mike Payne took the minutes
2) Discussion with Neil Banks - Store Manager, Tesco Highams Park
Neil Banks introduced Zara Fox, the store's Deputy Manager and the meeting thanked them both for giving up their time to come to the meeting.
Neil brought back responses, as follows, to several points raised at the last meeting:
· The large triangular paved area outside the store entrance is owned by Tesco and Neil is keen for it to be used in the manner of a Town Square (Town Triangle?). Ideas for events in the area should be directed to Neil. Neil confirmed his enthusiasm for a Farmer's Market in the Square and confirmed that power sockets are present in the square to supply stalls. He also confirmed that there are no plans to add any further street furniture or planting which would get in the way of events in the square (except perhaps a Christmas tree in December). OS volunteered to progress the Farmers Market idea with Neil's support. DC offered to assist OS with contacts for the organisers of the Farmers Market in Chingford.
· 200 people work in the store and Tesco will respond positively to requests for working parties on local projects. 6 members of staff attended the River Ching spring clean on Saturday 20th April. Neil reported that they all enjoyed it and their enthusiasm in the store on Monday was infectious to other members of staff and he could see even more people volunteering for future events. The Forum asked Neil to pass on its thanks to the volunteers for their valuable contribution.
· Neil stated that they were actively progressing the idea of treating Highams Park as a shopping mall with Tesco as the anchor store. As part of this they were working with their designers to redesign the existing in-store display boards relating to the locality. They hope to have better maps with details of the local facilities. They also want to move the display to a more prominent position so shoppers see it as they enter the store.
· At the last meeting MD recalled that the plans for the development included the replacement of a large number of trees and asked if this had been completed or if there were more to come. Neil stated that he had checked and in the completed areas of the site all planting was complete in line with the approved planning documents
· At the last meeting attendees remarked on the size of the illuminated sign on the top of the store and alerted Neil to the concerns of some residents, especially in the elevated parts of Highams Park. At night they find that the sign is intrusive and dominates the skyline. Neil checked and confirmed that the sign is as per the approved planning documents. The sign is on a timer which ensures it is not illuminated 24/7. The sign turns on at 8am and off at 10pm.
Bea Taylor had attended the last meeting of the Forum to discuss the idea of an annual Art Trail event in Highams Park. This had met with enthusiastic support. Neil stated that she had met with him and he had agreed that if any of the independent shop units along the front of the store are vacant at the time of the Trail, then Tesco would be amenable to them being used as part of the Art Trail event.
MP described the annual "Highams Park Day" and asked whether Tesco would like to participate. The event is organised by The Highams Park Society and this year it takes place on Saturday 13th July 2013 on Vincent Green at the end of Vincent Road (E4 9PR). Some form of "fun" activity for visitors would be ideal. Neil expressed interest and said he would discuss it with his team to see if they could come up with ideas.
OS complimented Tesco on the good maintenance and tidiness of their site and wanted this to be a benchmark for the rest of the shopping area. In conjunction with the Highams Park Society he had been lobbying LBWF to perform a series of actions to tidy and improve the street scene. It was noted that Highams Park did not receive a share of the £9m that was allocated in 2012 by the Mayor of London to this kind of work in numerous other shopping areas in the borough. DC (on behalf of The E4 Business Forum) stated that he was also lobbying for this. DC and OS agreed to work together.
In terms of on-going liaison between the Forum and Tesco, Neil stated that he found attendance at the Forum useful and a good way to get timely feedback from residents as to any concerns. OS said he would be welcomed at any futures meetings if he would like to attend even if Tesco was not specifically on the agenda.
3) Matters arising from minutes of meeting 11th March 2013
There were no matters arising from minutes.
4) Discussion - Should we promote the idea of a new school on the Focus site? If so, how?
MD described the content on a letter she had received from Cllr Paul Braham quoting a response from council officer Sandra Mohamed (School Organisation and Governance Manager) in response to MDs suggestion of using the old Focus site in Larkshall Road as the location for a new school. MP agreed to distribute a copy of this letter with the minutes. The letter confirms the substantial increase in school places required in the borough but is non-committal regarding the building of a new school.
The meeting noted the limited availability of land in the borough and the positive nature of this particular site. For example the proximity to transport and adjacent playing fields, with a swimming pool a short walk away.
It was suggested that PFI might be a way around the need to find large capital sums.
School places were a particular issue not only because of a rising birth rate but also because the average age of residents in the area was reducing.
It was stated that the metric used to assess the school places required for a new housing development was to assume 0.8 children for each bedroom after the first in any one property.
Attendees unanimously agreed that the Forum should actively promote the idea of a school on the Focus site and MD agreed to do this in the Forum's name.
MD will ask council officers for latest school place projections. TC agreed to send MD the last set of projections he received. DH said he would look into the type of planning restrictions regarding the location of a school and the possible need for a change of use for the land.
5) Forum attendance at Highams Park Day 2013 (13th July)
Attendees agreed that the Forum should have a presence as usual at Highams Park Day 2013 on Saturday 13th July. Volunteers were requested to help organise and run the Forum's display (both on the day and in preparation before). Five volunteers came forward: GR, DH, MD, OS & MP.
There was one more Forum meeting (10th June) before Highams Park Day and members were asked to think about possible themes for a display. Last year's Elizabethan dressing up was considered a great success but, having experienced the extreme effort involved, those involved would be reluctant to take on such a large scale production again this year.
DS suggested the display should Focus on what the Forum was about and look to get more people to become involved. In the past we have tried to do this but with a second, perhaps more entertaining, aspect as well to draw people into the tent.
Attendees discussed how Highams Park Day is advertised to residents. It was suggested that Tesco have some portable signs which they may be prepared to lend to be used to advertise the day.
6) Feedback on various subjects
a) River Ching Spring Clean (last Saturday, 20th April)
This was a great success with 20 residents in attendance.
b) Station & Tunnel improvements
The minutes of the Forum meeting of 28th January 2013 reported that MP had attended the Community Ward Forum meeting of 24th January 2013 at which Alan Neville, Greater Anglia's Area Customer Services Manager, was present. The minutes document that MP raised with Mr Neville all the key issues noted by the Forum in respect of the station and the subway and that he agreed to look into them.
RG reported via MP that the Forum minutes referred to above had been distributed at the latest LBWF Transport Liaison Meeting and the chair of that meeting was seeking a meeting with Alan Neville to determine progress.
The discussion turned briefly to the Hall Farm Curve. This is a proposal to reopen a connection between the Chingford to Liverpool Street line and Stratford. The short embankment (where there once was track for this purpose) is known as the Hall Farm Curve. GR noted that the increase in population in Waltham Forest may improve the case for the project.
c) Signal Box
GR reported that local building firm Dendale Construction has now signed a lease with Network Rail to take over the old Signal Box by the level crossing. The Forum very much welcomes this outcome and has worked closely with all parties over some considerable time to reach this conclusion.
Dendale will sympathetically restore and convert the inside of the box to make it usable as an office and hope to offer open days for the public.
d) Avenue Speed sign
The speed reactive sign which is situated in The Avenue near the junction with Sunnydene Avenue was not working. It is understood that it had been turned off because it was causing a light nuisance to a nearby resident. Following a meeting with Forum member Chris Holmes, council officers are in the process of moving the sign to a better location near to the junction of Falmouth Avenue.
e) Regal/Sheltz site Latest
OS reported that he understands that the Regal/Sheltz building has been sold and that the purchaser plans to convert it internally for use as office space. The snooker hall will remain an existing tenant.
f) Hale end road tree
A resident advised the Forum that the dead tree opposite the Post Office in Hale End road has been reported to council officers and a replacement requested.
7) Online Discussion Group - Should the Forum initiate one?
The meeting discussed the idea of an online discussion group. AK had participated in one when he lived elsewhere in London and found that it worked very well. In addition to involving people who cannot attend Forum meetings it could also be valuable in other areas such as "Does anyone know a good electrician?"
DH stated that he would be happy to assist with the moderation of the discussion group.
AK, DH, & OS agreed to meet take this forward. They will invite IP.
The name "Highams Park Online" was suggested as a name for the discussion group (trying to avoid any confusion with the word "Forum"). This name was popular with attendees.
It was suggested that although this was not intended to be a substitute for the Forum, members could drop in and out of the online group and invite people to Forum meetings if appropriate to further the discussion.
8) Any other business:
· Local charity "Carefree Kids" has contacted the Forum and is looking for additional trustees. If anyone reading these minutes would like to get involved, there is more detail on their website here: www.carefreekids.org
· Attendees were puzzled by works at the Royal Oak Pub. The works have been renovating the small shop (ex off-licence) adjoining the pub. The result is quite attractive but its purpose is unknown. DH agreed to ask the Landlord.
· GR reported on the stalled Neighbourhood Plan project. A meeting has been arranged with Cllr Clyde Loakes on 10th May and it is hoped this will unlock the funding necessary to restart the project. The funding is available but a catch-22 situation currently stops the Forum Neighbourhood Plan team from using it.
· DC asked attendees for feedback on the soon to be introduced "Pay By Phone" parking scheme (with the withdrawal of the voucher scheme) and the way it works with the "Free 15 minutes". It was noted that the formal public consultation notice appears in the latest (issue 89, April) edition of Waltham Forest News (page 15, bottom of column 2) which can be viewed here: http://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/Documents/WFN%2089.pdf
There was some confusion amongst attendees as to how the "Free 15mins" worked if you were paying for more than that. The conclusion was reached that it using a voucher, the voucher could start 15mins after arrival time but this would not be practical if paying by phone.
· MD noted that a party held in The Highams Park (the park beside the lake) had created a lot of mess which had to be cleared up. If this was the start of a trend, action may be necessary to stop it.
9) Action List: Review of outstanding items
The action list was reviewed and updated outside the meeting by MP. Copy distributed separately from the minutes.
10) Items for next agenda
· How should we communicate with residents? Should we re-introduce the Forum to residents by way of an article in the Waltham Forest Guardian?
11) Confirm date, time for next meeting (10th June 2013)
meeting will be held on Monday 10th June 2013 at 7:30pm in the
Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.