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 9th March 2015 (Approved)

 

 

Present:

Trevor Calver, Jeff Beaton, Nicolas Haines, Anne Haines, Cllr Tony Bell, Ann Shykles, Mike Reddy, Danny Hunt, Malcolm Shykles, Mark Herring, Roger Torode, Oliver Shykles, Mike Payne, Roger Gillham

Apologies:

Richard Owen, Gordon Turpin, Mary Dunhill, Ian Pleasance, John Kear, Mary Wilson, Graham Reeve, Cllr Marion Fitzgerald, Cllr Sheree Rackham, Sandeep Christian

Guest

David Boote, Waltham Forest Footpath Secretary, The Ramblers (Essex Area)

 

1)         Welcomes & Introductions

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

 

2)         Rights of way - Updating the Definitive Map - Discussion with David Boote

Background: 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.  Forum members have agreed that the Forum should be instrumental in having known rights of way in the Highams Park area included in the DMS to ensure that footpaths and cycle ways are not accidentally lost during developments.

 

David Boote kindly attended the meeting to participate in the discussion on this topic.  David is Waltham Forest Footpath Secretary for The Ramblers and offered to work with The Forum on the task.  He confirmed that the current DMS for Waltham Forest is incomplete and wording on the official document concedes this.  As such the map covering Highams Park cannot be considered to be "definitive".

 

OS had previously enquired of council officers as to the procedure for adding paths to the DMS.  The procedure that was explained to him was complex and very time consuming for the individual proposing the addition.  Given that the current DMS is officially recognised as being incomplete, the meeting now felt that we are not asking for paths to be "added" to the DMS, but rather we are seeking to assist the council in its legal duty to "complete" the DMS.  This subtle difference is important since it implies who should do the major part of the administrative task of getting the paths included.  The Forum will start the process by providing mapping data to the council showing the paths to be included but will then expect the council to discharge its legal duty and carry out the administrative tasks necessary to complete the DMS.  It is understood that councils are required to complete their DMS by 2026.

 

The meeting agreed that The Forum should examine the area covered by the boundary for Highams Park defined by The Highams Park Planning Group.  OS agreed to obtain a copy of the map from the planning group and at the next Forum meeting attendees can begin the task of marking on it known footpaths and rights of way.  MR recommended walking the routes using GPS receivers to accurately log the paths.  These can then be easily overlaid, electronically, onto any base map.

 

DB showed attendees an old map, originally from Essex County Council, covering some paths in the Highams Park area.  This will help start the process.

 

It was suggested that the Forum's map with footpaths marked on it could be shown to residents at Highams Park Day (11th July) and residents there could be asked if they can spot any paths that are missing.

 

At some point it may be possible to arrange an event, similar to "beating the bounds" where an organised groups of walkers set out systematically to walk all the paths in one session, following one meandering route.

 

The works to improve safety on the Ching pathway from Hale End Road to Beech Hall Crescent had brought the issue of the DMS to The Forum's attention.  The works risked closing off the path (which is missing from the DMS).  A gate had been added but with a promise that it would not be locked.  However, a padlock had appeared on the gate.  At the last meeting Cllr TB agreed to ensure the padlock is removed and attendees report that the padlock has indeed been removed.

 

3)         Matters arising from minutes of meeting 26th January 2015

·         Re item 5 (Rubbish trouble spots):
Informal enquiries reveal that rubbish bags are being left on the pavement by shop keepers as well as residents.  LBWF enforcement team have been notified and will be taking action.

·         Re item 10 (Any Other Business - Highams Park as a discrete area for events listings):
OS is in the middle of an email dialogue with council officers responsible for the Waltham Forest London Magazine.  The objective to get a separate section for Highams Park in the events listings.  Highams Park events are currently mixed in under the Chingford heading.

 

4)         Walthamstow Central train interchange: Problems with changes to passenger flows

Attendees discussed the current building works at Walthamstow Central train station.  These works have the objective of separating the entrances of the Victoria Line and the National Rail service.  This is to protect National Rail revenue by ensuring passengers transferring from Underground to National Rail pass through a National Rail ticket barrier (by forcing them out of the station and back in again).

 

Attendees were concerned by the poor ("cheap and nasty") quality of the works.  On the Chingford bound platform an ugly, misaligned, cage-like structure has been constructed which is only wide enough for two people.  With passenger flows in both directions, this looks like an obvious source of congestion and danger when passengers are rushing to catch trains that they can see (through the cage) but can't get to.  The structure has been cheaply created by hacking around an existing shelter to form the cage, rather than by creating an optimal solution from scratch.  For example, the original supporting pillars of the shelter now provide obstacles to passenger flows.  It gives the impression that passenger convenience and safety were not the prime concerns in the design of this structure.

 

The works are being performed by Abellio Greater Anglia with the support of TfL.  Attendees were puzzled by this since Abellio's contract ends in May 2015, so it seems odd that they should be spending money on assets they are about to hand over.  Attendees wondered if there was a contractual requirement they needed to honour before the end of their contract.  Does this explain the apparent selection of "lowest cost option" in the construction?

 

OS, GR and RT have all made approaches to TfL and Abellio, expressing residents' concerns.  They have been advised that tests on passenger flows were carried out before commencement of the works and that a Transport User group was consulted.  The name of the User Group is unknown to the Forum and clarification has been sought as to precisely who was consulted.  Full details of the passenger flow tests have also been requested.  Stella Creasy (MP for Walthamstow) is also seeking explanations from the authorities responsible for the works.  Attendees also wondered if Fire Officers have given their approval.

 

Cllr Tony Bell with be attending LBWF Transport Liaison meeting on 17th March (7:30pm in the Council Chamber) and will raise the issue.  Members of the public are welcome to attend this meeting.

 

After the disappointment of the above, RG and RT flagged up some positive aspects of the TfL takeover of the Chingford-Liverpool St line in May:

·         Highams Park Station will be staffed from 15 mins before the first train of the day until 15 mins after the last train of the day

·         New trains will be brought into service in 2018

·         The pedestrian underpass (next to the level crossing) will have a make-over including cladding the walls with an attractive, easy clean, surface

·         Drainage and pumps will be installed behind the cladding to solve the rainwater seepage problem.

·         Other minor improvements.

 

5)         Joseph Clarke School expansion in Vincent Road

In February, residents in Vincent Road had been invited to a display in Joseph Clarke School showing proposed plans for the expansion of the school.  Previous plans (submitted earlier) were not popular with residents and were turned down by the council.  These new plans attempt to address residents' concerns. 

 

No one present was able to express a direct opinion on how well the new plans satisfied residents' issues.

 

LBWF planning committee will meet 31st March to consider the new plans.

 

6)         Information received

a)    Ward Forum funding approvals (including HP Forum).  New awkward procedures for claiming funds

At the Ward Forum meeting on 4th February, residents voted on projects to receive funding for 2014/15.  RT had submitted a bid on behalf of the Forum to cover our website hosting costs and cost of room hire.

 

It is understood that all projects were approved and most projects had now been informed of their success and of the procedure for claiming the funds.  RT stated that he has not received such notification and he would contact council officer Julie Simmons to clarify the situation.

 

The Forum is aware that other successful projects have expressed dismay at new, awkward, procedures for receiving the funds.  It appears that it is often the case that project organisers are expected to spend their own money on goods and services and then seek reimbursement from the council by submitting invoices that have been paid.  For projects involving larger sums of money this can be onerous and inconvenient for the individuals concerned.  These projects are nearly always individuals trying to do "good works" for the community and making it difficult for them does not exactly count as encouragement from the council.  It is understood though that some flexibility is available to council officers, so project organisers are encouraged to make a strong case for special treatment if they find it difficult to comply.

 

b)    Highams Park Day date changed to 11th July 2015

The annual "Highams Park Day", organised by the Highams Park Society is a major event in the Highams Park Calendar.  The date for the event had originally been set as 18th July but it became apparent that it clashed with other major events so the date has now been changed to Saturday 11th July 2015.

 

c)    Local Hustings for General Election

OS had considered the idea of providing a venue and chairing for an event whereby candidates for the forthcoming general election could address Highams Park residents.  On reflection however he felt that there were probable already sufficient opportunities for the parties to address the electorate and it was not necessary to take the idea forward.

 

Attendees agreed with this analysis.

 

d)    Scouting volunteers wanted in Highams Park.  Especially The 4th Beaver Colony

Local scout organisations are keen to recruit volunteers to help with their work with young people.  All groups would be very pleased to see new volunteers but the 4th Beaver Colony is particularly in need and may need to close at Easter if no new volunteers come forward.  If you can help, please contact the organisers via this email address:  join@wfs-scouts.org.uk

 

7)         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 over 700 members.

 

Gordon Turpin (Chair of the Planning Group) was unable to attend this meeting due to another engagement but gave the meeting a brief summary of some of the recent activity (via an email to MP):

 

·         Chingford Lane Crossing:
This relates to the creation of a safer informal crossing point on Chingford Lane (close to the junction with The Avenue) for pedestrians and cyclists following the forest path.  The Corporation of the City of London (CoL) are waiting for follow up from LBWF (Iain King).   GT has urged CoL to cut back the scrub at the edge of the road as it is dangerous and they may just go ahead and do it.

GT will see council officer Chris Harrison on Thursday and will try and get a date for the roadworks/markings.

 

·         Redevelopment of the old Regal cinema building
TSS are talking to Charcoal Blue (one of the biggest architects in the world for this sort of thing - in art-house cinemas) to advise them on the Regal.  The Council have suggested that for any application to move forward their needs to be a good business case behind it.  TSS are firming up their plans prior to a formal planning application to the council.

 

·         Scrub Clearance at the lake
Works went well - will pick up again in the autumn. City Corp will use a flail to keep down what we have already done. You can now see the Lake from the top of the park through one small window.

 

·         Missing child safety barrier outside refurbished playground in Vincent Road
As promised at the last Forum Meeting , GT emailed Ben Frearson at the parks department and he spoke to Steve Halter in The Highways Dept. and they are going to replace the barrier.

 

·         HP Plan

    • Ward Forum Funding granted for Buy it Small & Local, Xmas Fayre, 2 more Little Free Libraries and the organ restoration survey.
    • Parking survey is underway....not a push for a CPZ, just part of a broader survey to look at parking issues and solutions around HP.  This has been sent to all 700+ Planning Group members as a major sample of residents' views on the subject.
    • Reviewing the list of issues and alternative options for their resolution.  Questionnaires will be circulated soon.  This will form part of the evidence base for the HP Plan.
    • A character assessment is being created for the different parts of Highams Park.  It is hoped that this can be used to create planning rules that ensure that developments are sensitive to that which is already present in each area.
    • The group is progressing its registration as a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation).  This will make it easier for the group to secure funding for Highams Park projects.
    • 34 Priority Projects have been identified to enhance the area.  These will be driven forward by the group and some are starting to move along already.

 

b)    Postal Carts chained to lamp posts.  Is this still a problem?

MH reported that he has spoken to the Delivery Office Manager at Chingford sorting office.  The majority of carts should now be collected (by van) before the end of day.  There is a problem with a cart based near the library since the timing of the deliveries and the van run means that it often misses the van.  In this case, the cart is now moved to a location out of pedestrians' way at the side of the library.

 

Attendees confirmed that their experiences confirmed this.

 

A Forum member who was unable to attend the meeting noted the number of rubber bands dropped by delivery staff.  Attendees recognised the issue but felt that this was just an occasional accident and not a significant problem.

 

c)    Works at Highams Park Lake

CoL reports that they are nearing the end of the Highams Park lake dam improvement project, with work due to finish on 10th March 2015. There will still be some landscaping actions continuing beyond this time, however the core works will be complete.  Attendees reported that they had been informed that the end date had been moved slightly to 13th March.

 

The latest bulletin from CoL on the dam works can be seen via a link on the home page of the Forum's website (www.highamsparkforum.co.uk).

 

d)    Painting and Planting day

The Planting & Painting day organised by the Highams Park Society went well with a good number of residents turning out on Friday 20th February to dig compost into tree bases in the shopping area and to plant flowers and bulbs around the trees.   The residents were supported by council staff who provided equipment, bulbs and plants.

 

The bulbs are already starting to show growth above ground.

 

8)         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.

 

9)         Any other business

·         Update on statistics for the Forum on the internet:  MP reported that the Forum's website gets, on average, 10 unique visitors per day and is the 3rd item in the Google search results for a search on the words "Highams Park" (The school and Wikipedia are 1st and 2nd).  OS stated that the Forum's Facebook page has over 500 "likes" and Twitter has 5-600 followers.

·         Cllr TB reported that as a by-product of the painting and planting day (see 7d above) he and GT visited the shop near the level crossing with the long standing high level graffiti problem.  With appropriate council staff on-site available to do the removal job, permission was agreed with the owner.  As a result, a lot of the graffiti has now been removed.  There is some remaining on the right hand side that the operatives could not remove but they are going to come back and paint it out in cherry red.  This graffiti has been a long standing irritant to residents.

·         Attendees were concerned that the "site fencing" around the former Focus site (soon to be a self-storage facility) looked a little too permanent (and ugly).  Attendees didn't recall any such fencing in the artist's impression that supported the planning application.  OS agreed to liaise with councillors to confirm that the fence is only temporary.

 

10)     Items for next agenda

·      Mark up map (based on HP Planning Group boundary) with known rights of way (following on from the discussion in item 2 above).

 

11)     Confirm date, time for next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 27th April 2015 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.
 

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