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 18th January 2016 (Approved)

 

 

Present:

Oliver Shykles, Mike Payne, Gordon Turpin, Jeff Beaton, Anne Haines, Oona Kelly, John Avis, Chris Holmes, Cllr Marion Fitzgerald, Steve Webb, Mark Herring, Cllr Tim James, Neil Monaghan

Apologies:

Trevor Calver, Mary Dunhill, Cllr Paul Braham, Cllr Sheree Rackham, John Kear, Graham Reeve, Roger Torode, Nicolas Haines, Cllr Tony Bell

Guest:

Council Officer Paul Tickner (Senior Specialist Officer, Neighbourhoods & Commissioning)

 

1)         Welcomes & Introductions

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

 

2)         Discussion with Council Officer Paul Tickner

PT explained that his job title is "Senior Specialist Officer" and he assists a number of "Neighbourhood Officers" who are responsible for specific wards. The two wards that cover the centre of Highams Park are the responsibility of Neighbourhood Officer Emmanuel Banton. Together they monitor all contractors working for the council including waste collection, street cleaning, and tree maintenance.

 

An interesting discussion followed and the key points are set out below:

 

a)    Switch to winter schedule for brown bins causes problems in roads with street trees

At the last meeting, attendees highlighted the problem that for roads with street trees the switch to brown bin collections every two weeks in the autumn comes at the wrong time; residents are trying to collect up fallen leaves and there is often not enough space in the unemptied bin. PT said that if residents place the leaves in open black plastic sacks (so the contents are visible) and leave them next to the brown bins, he will ensure the contractors collect them when they empty the brown bins. Attendees agreed that this was a good solution.

 

b)    Street tree pruning schedule and reporting lines of Gristwood & Toms

The contract with Gristwood & Toms is managed by PT's department. The contract states that street trees be pruned every 4 years. This may change when the contract is renewed to recognise that trees in different locations may require different frequencies. In the meantime, the department does have a small budget for exceptions so some tress can be pruned out of sequence. If a resident wants to make a case for a tree being pruned earlier than scheduled, they should contact either himself or Emmanuel. They also have a separate budget for new or replacement street trees if residents identify locations.

 

AH mentioned the problem of "basel growth" (spindly growth at the base of trees particularly when the crown has been pruned) and asked if it was ok for residents to cut it off on trees outside their houses. PT stated that there is a scheduled programme of work to deal with it but was very happy for residents to deal with any trees where the growth was a problem.

 

c)    Chingford lane

A cutback of foliage in Chingford Lane had recently been performed. Even though this is CoL land (Corporation of the City of London) the council is responsible for making sure the road and footway is safe.

 

d)    Foliage in the front gardens of private gardens overhanging footway

This can be reported to Waltham Forest Direct. The owner will be written to, politely asking them to deal with the problem. If no action is seen, the council will deal with it and bill the owner.

 

e)    Abbots Crescent Garden mistake

OK expressed the disappointment and frustration of Abbots Crescent residents about the recent "maintenance" of the garden by council contractors. The contractors seemed unaware that the garden was part of the "Adopt a flowerbed" scheme and had been planted out by residents. Contactors dug it all over destroying much of the planting done earlier in the year (for which the council had provided grants for plants and bulbs). It was now bare. PT agreed to look into how this happened and will ensure it does not happen again. He also volunteered to source some replacement plants and/or seeds.

 

f)     Sprayed tree bases

JB reported a similar problem in Evanston Avenue where some tree bases had been planted by residents and the bases were then sprayed with weed killer by council contractors, killing the plants. PT will look into why this happened since a number of other roads have resident tree base planting (a practice encouraged by the council) and the spraying teams had avoided touching those successfully.

 

g)    Spring Clean 2016

This annual event will take place on the first two weekends in March. The council works with and supports groups of local residents in sprucing up their areas with litter picking and planting. PT will send details to the Forum. OS felt sure Highams Park residents would wish to take park as in previous years.

 

h)    Bags left by lamp posts

In the shopping area, rubbish bags left by lamp posts outside of the proper collection times continues to be a problem because they then remain until the next collection and are often broken open by foxes. PT hoped that the local knowledge of the Neighbourhood officers coupled with some targeted enforcement will reduce this problem.

 

i)      Wheelie bins not properly replaced by collectors

Some attendees reported that wheelie bins were sometimes not returned to the correct location on the resident's property. They were then left blocking the pathway, drive, or public footway. PT confirmed that according to the contract, a bin is supposed to be returned to the place where the collector found it. If problems are caused, PT asked residents to report via Waltham Forest Direct and he will ensure the contract is enforced.

 

This section of the meeting concluded with attendees thanking Paul for giving up his time to attend.

 

3)         Discussion with Neil Monaghan regarding a new project for young people

NM is a local resident and works for an organisation called "Archway Project". The organisation is in the process of setting up a new project in Highams Park and he wanted to brief attendees. The project will operate out of the Michael Mallinson Scout Centre (opposite Highams Park Lake) on Tuesdays and focusses on young people aged 11 to 19 (or older in special cases). During the day, vocational training will be given leading to a BTec engineering qualification, and in the evening (probably 5pm to 7:30) there will be an open access club. The activities will centre on the maintenance and use of mountain bikes and Heales Cycles of Highams Park have been assisting the project. The project is developing well and they hope to open in Easter.

 

If anyone is interested in getting involved in the project, Neil can be emailed at: neil.monaghan@archwayproject.org.

 

Attendees suggested that attendance of the club at Highams Park Day (16th July) would be a good way to advertise the project.

 

MH highlighted the existence of the "E4 Cycle Club", a social cycle club in E4 area. Rides are normally on a Wednesday night.

 

4)         Mini Holland in Highams Park - an update

Cllr Fitzgerald gave an update on the proposed Mini Holland scheme in Highams Park based on a meeting she had recently attended.

 

The project will focus on key "blockages" for cyclists and pedestrians. No road closures are proposed for Highams Park. An improved cycle store at Highams Park station is likely.

 

The council had applied for 50m for the whole borough but had been granted 27m. This means that the 1m which was to have been spent in Highams Park will now be reduced to 500k.

 

A "perception survey" of Highams Park residents will take place in February 2016 to gather residents' views on various options. Initial plans will be drawn up in March and workshops will take place in April. Formal consultation will start in July. This will take the form of a survey in the summer followed by the statutory consultation. The build will take place October 2016 through to March 2017.

 

5)         Matters arising from minutes of meeting 7th December 2015

There were no matters arising.

 

6)         Election of officers for 2016

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 en bloc was proposed by JB, seconded by JA, 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.

 

7)         Redevelopment of Selwyn School

This item refers to the proposal to build a new school on the Selwyn Avenue site, demolishing the existing school. This was discussed at the last Forum meeting. Since that time a formal planning application has been submitted and the closing date for comments by residents is 26th January (21 days from the date of the application, this being 5th January).

 

Although the plans were on display at a public meeting in December, it has not been until now that the plans are available to view online. Since the LBWF planning website is known to be unreliable and difficult to navigate, The Highams Park Planning Group have downloaded the plans to make them easier to access. They can be viewed by clicking this link:

http://highamsparkplan.org/selwyn-school-details-of-planning-application/

 

If you wish to comment on the application you should email dmconsultations@walthamforest.gov.uk and refer to Application Reference Number 153749FUL.

 

GT stated that he had notified the Planning Group's membership (900+) of the development so they could comment if they wished to do so.

 

At the last meeting, attendees expressed a desire to better understand the views of the school body. Helen Wagner (Vice Chair Selwyn Governing Body Committee) read the minutes of that meeting and emailed the Forum suggesting as follows: "I would therefore like invite members of the forum to visit our school and meet with staff, governors and members of our Parent Council as well as see first-hand why both we and the local authority feel that this is the right decision for Selwyn and the wider community".  Helen went on to say "Our Executive Head, Maureen Okoye will also be available to conduct the visit and we will aim to have parents and staff available to give you a chance to discuss the proposals with a cross-section of the school community."

 

Attendees welcomed this opportunity and MP agreed to liaise with Helen to set up the meeting at the earliest opportunity. A number of attendees expressed an interest in attending. Members wishing to participate were: OS, MP, MH, & JA. In addition SW stated that his wife (a former Teacher at Selwyn) would probably like to attend. MP agreed also to invite Kelly Adams and Sylvia Johns who had attended the last meeting and been very interested in this topic.

 

8)         Council proposal to stop free 15 minute parking

Cllr Fitzgerald and Cllr Tim James explained that the council's proposal to stop the current free 15 minute parking in bays had been called in to Scrutiny Committee since it was felt that the notice placed in Waltham Forest News was not sufficiently prominent and affected parties may not have been aware of the proposal. The council will republish, inviting comments, and then return to Scrutiny Committee.

 

Currently, parking bays outside shops in Highams Park have the first 15 minutes free with no need to buy a ticket. This is believed to be beneficial to the shops since in makes it easy for people driving by to "pop in" for a quick shop and then move on, freeing up the bay for someone else. For longer stays in Highams Park, there is 3 hours free parking in the Tesco car park without any obligation to shop in Tesco.

 

The new arrangements remove the free 15 minutes completely and instead include a free hour at lunch time. Attendees felt that this change would harm the shops.

 

It has been suggested that the council was proposing this change because of regulations from central government mandating that a 10 minute grace period be given to parkers when their tickets expire. There is some confusion as to how this 10 minutes grace applies to the free 15 minutes. Forum member Trevor Calver states (in an email to MP): "I am going to request Cllr. Matt Davis to ask Iain Duncan Smith to establish via the Secretary of State the exact interpretation of how the Governments 10 minutes grace period applies in respect of 15 minutes free parking where no ticket is issued."

 

9)         Brief Updates:

 

a.    HP Plan update

GT (chair of the Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) gave a quick update as follows:

         AGM
The AGM of the Planning group will take place Thursday 11th February 2016 at 7:30pm in All Saints Church, Church Avenue, Highams Park. A full update on all the work of the group will be given there.

         Elephant & Tortoise
The installation of the much awaited Elephant & Tortoise artwork is now expected in early February. Works on preparing the ground have commenced,

         The Lake & Forest
Lake water quality has much improved thanks to the work of Epping Forest staff and Highams Park volunteers and also recent wind and rain. Oxygen levels are now up at 71% (from a low of 3%). The problem occurred following the recent dredging and an algal bloom.

A regular team of volunteers has been established to undertake light forestry works around the lake on a monthly basis. 25 people attended on 10th January and made a significant impact in a number of places. Training also took place on that day for volunteers to be butterfly and tree wardens as well as litter pickers. These sessions were well attended.

 

The next session will be 14th February (9:30 am to 2:30 pm). Anyone is welcome to come along and volunteers will show them what to do. Any help would be much appreciated. Please contact the Planning Group at: highamsparkplan@gmail.com

An attendee noted that the far end of the lake was starting to smell again. GT said the conservators were aware of this and were looking at solutions, perhaps the use of long rakes to remove dropped leaves.

 

b.    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.

 

GR for the Forum sought clarification from council officers regarding the nature of the humps on the bus routes through Highams Park. Ian Hastings (Traffic Manager) replied as follows: "I can confirm that all road humps on bus routes within the 20mph zone will be flat-topped speed tables / humps which provide more comfort to bus passengers than conventional 3.7m round topped humps."

 

10)     Action List: Review of outstanding items

The action list was reviewed and updated. Copy distributed separately from these minutes.

 

11)     Any other business

a.    Recognition of Highams Park area by name in council website

JB noted that when entering a Highams Park address into the council's website (based on typing the post code) it brings up an address denoted as "Chingford". The Forum has always sought to have Highams Park recognised as a discrete area, but in this case some attendees felt that we were unlikely to be able to change it since the post code translation would be based on the Post Office official post code database (which links post codes to sorting offices rather than actual geographic locations).

 

b.    The next Community Ward Forum meetings will be as follows:

 

Hatch Lane

Date: Thursday 4 February 2016

Time: 7pm - 9pm

Venue: All Saints Church, Church Ave, Highams Park, E4 9QD

 

Agenda items include:

     20mph speed limit and humps scheme

     Voting on residents' ward funding proposals for 2016

 

Chapel End

Date:  Tuesday 22nd March

Time: 7pm-9pm

Venue: Chapel End Infant School, 3 Beresford Road, Walthamstow, E17 4LN

 

Hale End & Highams Park

To be advised

 

12)     Items for next agenda

      Cycling on pavements

      Air pollution in the Tesco underground car park

      Review of Forum produced rights of way map

 

13)     Confirm date, time for next meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday 7th March 2016 at 7:30pm in the Selwyn Lounge, All Saints Church, Church Avenue.

 

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