Working with Waltham Forest on Odessa Road

Some readers will already know that at Newham we have submitted a ‘Liveable Neighbourhoods’ bid to the Greater London Authority to create a cross-borough Liveable Neighbourhood which covers part of Forest Gate North ward, part of Cann Hall ward in Waltham Forest, and part of Stratford and Newtown ward. You can read about our initial bid on this Newham webpage here. 

In brief though, a ‘liveable neighbourhood’ is the new name for a project that was initially termed ‘Mini Holland’. Not, as the first name suggests, only about cycling, the idea is that funding is available to work with local people to create a big impact over a defined area to make it a better, cleaner, and more pleasant place to walk and cycle, thereby encouraging more active travel and use of public transport, and reducing the number of car journeys. Waltham Forest has led the way in this work, using GLA funds and their own cash for far-reaching public realm projects which have delivered frankly astonishing results in terms of improvements in air quality, and even seen them, I believe, be the only London borough to see its residents walking more than before.

If we are going to address our poor air quality and do our bit to help slow down climate change, we are going to have to make some changes. Thankfully some of these changes, like this project, will also have other benefits, including increasing activity levels, improving mental health, making an area more attractive, and even potentially improving community cohesion and local relationships.

So it might sound negative to report that our joint bid to the GLA wasn’t in fact successful. But we did win funding elsewhere, for a Liveable Neighbourhood in Custom House, and our joint bid with our WF friends and colleagues received very positive feedback, and we were urged to resubmit. As part of that, we ran the consultation process again, and got even more ideas from residents about how we can improve the area that forms the bid. We are very lucky to have Walthamd Forest as our neighbours, so we can see at first hand how they have made their improvements, benefit from their experience and expertise (and some of the things they’ve learnt, which they are very open about) , and also take advantage of our shared boundary bring some of their healthy streets approach gradually down south into Newham, to a group of residents who will already be using the public spaces in Waltham Forest, and will have seen the changes and benefits first hand.

Now, regardless of the funding that may or may not come centrally, we are working with Waltham Forest on Odessa Road, a road that crosses the borough boundary, also crosses the Quietway that runs through the ward, and has two schools on or near it.

If you live within the consultation area, you will receive a leaflet and information about the proposals, all of which I’ve linked below. There is also a drop in session on the 23rd January, from 1 – 4pm, in what is rather intriguingly termed ‘our mobile engagement unit’ which will be on Odessa Road near the junction with Dean Street. (I will be there, and will report back on what this actually is!) Apologies if this daytime session isn’t convenient – I did ask but it’s not possible due to officer commitments to hold an evening session this time. You can however give your comments, thoughts and ideas, and indeed ask any questions you have by emailing liveableneighbourhoods@newham.gov.uk (or enjoy@walthamforest.gov.uk).

The proposals are detailed on the leaflets but include a 20mph speed limit, new speed bumps (and replacing those that are there), planting, and other traffic calming. I am really pleased and excited to see this work happening in my ward, and am very much in favour of all of this work.

If you’d like to respond to this stage of the consultation (which is itself building on the previous two consultations as part of our Liveable Neighbourhood bid) then I would encourage you to do so.

Letter about scheme

Leaflet 1

Leaflet 2

 

 

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20mph consultation on Capel Road

I write this post on December the 16th, which is obviously a pretty grim time, politically, for many of us. I’m not going to attempt to pontificate on national politics, but instead am going to focus on the local, not to say hyper-local, and specifically about a highways consultation that is currently taking place.

Our ward, Forest Gate North, extends to the east to around half way along Capel Road, where it borders Manor Park ward. For some time I have been contacted periodically by people asking why the speed limit isn’t consistently 20mph all the way along Capel Road, and I’ve always had to say that to be absolutely honest, I’m just not sure.

Well, now we are hoping to resolve this, and make that portion of Capel Road that is currently, and strangely, 30mph, into a 20mph area in common with the rest of the road. We’re also going to do the same on some of the surrounding roads.

There is a consultation area that extends into Forest Gate North, and if you live within it you should receive information through the post soon. But I’d urge anyone who is keen on safer, healthier streets to respond to this if you have a moment. This is just a small step, but a vital one in the long journey to make our borough a safer place to walk and cycle

This is the letter being sent to houses within the consultation zone:
Capel Road 20mph_GC_v2

This is the questionnaire that residents who wish to express their views can fill in:
Capel Road questionnaire_GC_V25503 LBN CapelRd20mphZoneExtension consultation sheet 191204b  

This document is a map showing the proposed location of signs, humps, and the new reduced speed limit zone:
5503 LBN CapelRd20mphZoneExtension consultation sheet 191204b

I am unlikely to blog again before Christmas, so would like to wish readers a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. Especially good wishes and comfort to those who, like me, are feeling beaten down by the election result. We can regroup and rebuild in the new year!

 

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Healthy School streets – first thoughts

As I write this, it’s nearly 1pm on the 11th November, the day of the launch of our first Healthy school streets timed road closure. I have just been happily bombarding facebook and twitter with masses of comments and photos, so I won’t do that here right now, but I did want to quickly hop on the blog to make a few points.

The first and the biggest point is an enormous THANK YOU to everyone who made this happen in Forest Gate. The head teachers of Woodgrange and Godwin schools have been tremendously supportive. Rokhsana our Mayor, and cabinet members including James Asser, Julianne Marriott, Jane Lofthouse, and others, have all not only been advocates of healthy school streets, but had the leadership and political courage to see it through. Officers have worked really hard to get everything in place, the Woodgrange PTA supported our launch today by selling croissants, juice and breakfast, Newham Cyclists have been cheerleaders since the idea was first suggested. Massive thanks also to the band of local, and not-so-local residents, cyclists, campaigners, Labour party members and friends who turned out this morning in high vis jackets to help physically keep the roads clear. A special mention to Frances Clarke, a Forest Gate resident who used to be an East Ham councillor, who first tapped me on the shoulder I think around 2 years ago, and suggested that Godwin would be a great school for a road closure, and what did I think?

So I am suffused with a warm glow of success and righteousness: children walked down the centre of the road this morning, drivers were broadly well-behaved (with two notable exceptions. But we have your numberplates, guys….) and everyone was happy and celebratory.

I don’t want to sound negative but I think I do need to strike a slight note of caution as we go forward into the next few weeks. There are a few things that we could have done better, and we will learn from these. The leaflets and banners should have got to the schools earlier. The signs should have gone up a long time before they actually did. We are legally compliant in terms of our communication but we (and perhaps this is always the case, honestly) could have done more.

Currently there is no physical barrier to the road closures, which is partly why I recruited volunteers this morning for the launch. Cameras to start enforcing are going in this week, so my measured prediction is that for the next few weeks, the roads may be a bit quieter, but that a lot of vehicles will ignore the signs, and continue to use the roads, until they start to get ticketed. So I think all of us will have to take care, firstly not to be too triumphant, but also physically to take care on those roads where children and parents may be expecting it to be entirely safe, but we’re not quite there yet.

But in summary, I think it’s fair to say that our first Newham (ok, jointly first with Chobham) school street was a success, greeted with pleasure and enjoyment by pedestrians and cyclists (and one brave soul on roller blades who zoomed up the road at top speed). I sincerely hope that there will be many more, and if anyone from other schools / other areas is keen to have one near them, then I would recommend you drop your local councillors a line and speak to the head teacher.

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Maryland works update

Just a super quick post on this wet Monday morning to share the update newsletter that Conway have sent about the works happening at Maryland at the moment. Helen who sends out the newsletter is in charge of liaison at Conway, and I’m sure could add you onto the distribution list if you are interested and don’t get it already. Her contact details are also on the newsletter if anyone has any questions.

Final draft of Maryland Newsletter Autumn 2019_.

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Become a Climate Now Air Quality Champion

I just this moment received an email about this initiative, and wanted to share it on the blog because I know a lot of Forest Gate North residents will be really interested and keen to take part.

‘As part of the Climate Now Action Plan, we are recruiting for Climate Now Air Quality Health champions (CNAQHCs) to help deliver key messages across to the wider community to raise awareness – initially on anti-idling and encouraging walking to school.

We are planning to support and deploy our champions every step of the way – including a short induction session for each volunteer, followed by a one day course provided by the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH), and then by an introduction to the key tasks we want CNAQHCs to get involved in.

At the moment we have got a long list of about 80 residents that we have been speaking to about health champions in general and we are hoping that some will want to get involved and become a CNAQHC.

However we need more of our residents to engage in a huge effort to tackle air pollution and this is where we need your help!

Our first Climate Now Air Quality Champion’s induction session will take place on the 22nd October 2019 at East ham library from 6-8pm.

If you know of anyone who may want to become a Newham Health Champion, and in particular a Climate Now Air Quality Health Champion, please have them contact Newham.HealthChampions@activenewham.org.uk
They will be asked to register effortlessly onto our system and they will be sent more details and an invitation to attend upcoming induction sessions.’

https://vimeo.com/dfptv/review/359236078/6fde422261

I am particularly pleased to see that walking to school and anti-idling will be the first things that we tackle. My one-woman campaign to stop idling is going pretty well, but is highly dependent on the guts and energy that I have at any time! And walking to school is such an important way of getting children active, building community, increasing road safety, as well as improving air quality (you can read my post about Healthy School Streets here).

Please do volunteer. I know that Forest Gate contains many people with the beliefs and skills to really make this happen. I recently shared a plea for volunteers to participate in a Food Waste trial on Facebook and Forest Gaters signed up with such alacrity that my colleagues had to start recruiting residents from elsewhere in the borough to ensure that the whole thing wasn’t weighted towards E7! Needless to say, I was very proud.

We look forward to working with you.

 

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Healthy School Streets

With today being the first day back at school for many Newham children, it seemed like a good time to write a blog post about our proposals for ‘Healthy School Streets’. I have mentioned this proposal before in my update report, but am so passionate about this that I thought it deserved its own blog post.

I remember first hearing about school streets a couple of years ago, and watching a news piece which showed a teacher and school children going out into the road and unlocking and raising a small metal bollard to shut the street outside the school to traffic.  This made the news because the idea of shutting a road during drop-off and pick-up time was new and unusual. Since then, school streets closures, or school streets, as some local authorities call them, have become more common, in London boroughs like Hackney, Islington and Redbridge, and further afield too. And now we are proposing our first in Newham, which includes Woodgrange Infants school and Godwin Junior school, both close to my heart and my home as they are in my ward and also the schools where my girls go.

We are proposing timed street closures which would mean that the bit of Sebert between Woodgrange Road and Cranmer Road was closed, plus that southern bit of Cranmer Road, plus the bit of Godwin to the north that borders Godwin school. The closures would be enforced by camera during that time, and residents who live on the closed roads would be exempt and still able to move their vehicles during the closures.

There are loads of benefits to school streets. One of them is cleaner air for our children and their growing lungs, a health risk that is growing in importance as we learn more about the impact that pollution has on development and life expectancy. Closing the road improves road safety outside schools, an improvement that anyone will welcome who has been on Sebert Road at 9am, and seen the backed up cars, surrounded by small children and frazzled parents, and heard the angry tooting of blocked in drivers, and of drivers stopping illegally on the zigzag lines ‘just for a moment’ to drop off their children. It creates a more peaceful, and less stressful start to the school day, and children who are happier and more ready to learn. But perhaps most importantly, and the bit I am most pleased about, is how there is some evidence to show that closing the street outside the school can help with behavior change, and result in more children walking and cycling to school, and fewer driving.

Of course there will remain some parents for whom driving to school is a significantly better option. If you or your child is disabled, for example. Anyone with a blue badge is exempt from the scheme, and people who really absolutely cannot avoid driving can still drive to school, avoiding the closures, and park outside the zone, and walk the final few minutes. But for the majority of parents, who live within a very small area which is very walkable, and who already walk or cycle, this will make a safer, cleaner, better drop-off and pick-up.

Needless to say, this should form just part of Newham’s overall approach to encouraging walking and cycling, and also to our overall approach to air quality. If you’re interested in improving air quality, I would strongly encourage you to take part in our air quality consultation which is online here: https://www.newham.gov.uk/Pages/ServiceChild/Air-pollution-consultation.aspx

The formal consultation on the proposed school streets in Forest Gate North has now finished, and the responses are being looked at. I am hopeful that, depending on what people have said, we will be able to start the road closures in the Autumn. If you are keen on this idea, and would like to help, then please do contact me. I am hoping to organize a bit of a launch event, and local volunteers to stand at the various closure points and help inform traffic and parents would be really helpful.

In the meantime, I have done lots of tweeting about the proposal, including some video vox pops, and you can find these on twitter here: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23healthyschoolstreets%20%40rectripp&src=typd

Find out more:

Want to find out more? There are lots of great individuals and organisations campaigning for Healthy Streets generally, and for school street closures specifically.

For more detailed information about what is happening locally, you can read about Newham’s proposed Healthy School Streets on the Newham website here: https://www.newham.gov.uk/Pages/Services/Healthy-School-Streets.aspx

There is also a great video about school streets that Hackney produced, which is online here. 

Mums for Lungs are a small but brilliant voluntary organization campaigning for clean air, and providing some very useful pressure on all London boroughs to start closing school streets. Their website about school streets is here: https://www.mumsforlungs.org/about-school-streets

 

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A few updates about the marketplace

I have been asked a few questions about different things relating to our marketplace, so I thought I’d do a general round-up blog post and put as many as I could remember here.

The 308 bus stop

I knew that there was a good reason for moving the 308 bus stop, and I seem to recall it was explained to me about two years ago, but had to be reminded just today by an officer exactly what it was, after receiving more than one query about whether it would be coming back.

In a nutshell, the 308 bus turns right along Forest lane, and with the bus stop in its former position, the bus used to leave the stop and slew across to the right to get into the right turn lane – which blocked the straight ahead traffic at the junction causing queues and frustration back up Woodgrange Road.  Drivers only rarely let the bus turn across before the signals changed, so southbound queues used to get quite long quite quickly and frequently blocked Sebert Road.

The 308 bus now stops at the stop about 120m up the road (which it never used to stop at) where the other buses serving Woodgrange Road also stop (they never stopped before at the removed stop, which was only for the 308).

So the lack of stop so close to the junction helps the traffic to flow better at the junction, and has been replaced by an extra stop further up the road by Wanstead Park station.

The ‘Market place’ stone

stone with 'market place' engraved into itI tweeted a while back that the patch of tarmac blighting what would otherwise be a lovely circle of granite had been annoying me, but that I’d found out that it would be replaced by a stone with lettering saying ‘marketplace’ and I was delighted only a few days ago to notice that this stone had indeed been put in. I confess a personal weakness for lettering, especially a nice font with a serif, so am perhaps a little biased. But on a more professional note it’s also nice to have something to add to ‘placemaking’. Did you know that the Woodgrange dentist has plaster detailing at the top of the building saying ‘Market place’? Neither did I until I went on a walk about with Regeneration and we all spotted it. It’s all painted white and not very visible, so something down at ground level is to my mind most welcome.

Pavement parking

Talking of the dentist, this brings me onto pavement parking. I have had several complaints about this, both in front of the dentist surgery and also people pulling up onto the marketplace itself and parking on our new pavement. Pavement parking is bad for all kinds of reasons: it physically blocks the pavement meaning that it’s harder to get by, especially if you have a buggy or use a wheelchair, or are visually impaired. It’s just plain dangerous to have cars driving on a space that should be for pedestrians to use safely. It also adds to a general and pervasive idea about our streets: that they are there for cars, which can go anywhere, and everyone else should take care to get out of their way. But on a practical level, it also damages the paving, which after our new stone has gone in at great expense (thanks to funding from TfL) and massive delays, is particularly frustrating.

So to look at the area outside the dentist first, part of this is a ‘forecourt’ which is actually owned by the surgery. We resurfaced this area as part of the works, which is slightly unusual but not outlandish in this kind of project. Effectively, leaving it as a piece of tatty concrete would have had a negative impact on the appearance of the whole marketplace. They have bollards in place, with space I think (checking out of the window of Familia as I write) for three vehicles. I have had regular reports from residents walking their children to school that the cars can be parked in a way that blocks the pavement. To help stop this happening, the parking ‘spaces’ in front of the dentist are going to be marked out with white paint, which should make it clearer both to officers and to drivers when they are parked correctly. I use that dentist, and need to take my girls in for a check up, so am going to discuss not blocking the pavement with them when we go in. I have also highlighted the spot to parking enforcement and asked them to keep an eye on it, and am waiting to hear back. The lamp post which currently sits in the middle of the pavement will also be replaced and moved, which will help to make space on the pavement, too.

Concerning parking on the main marketplace itself, readers of this blog won’t have failed to notice that the works are not yet complete, and we are expecting the installation of various bits of street furniture including the much-needed cycle parking. I am assured this will be positioned such that it physically blocks as much pavement parking as we can. (Further up the road, I got the planters installed outside Arabica / Bereket as a way of improving the area but also stopping the lorries that seemed to be permanently stopping there, and am even more proud of them now that a band of residents have planted them up so beautifully). I have also spoken to parking enforcement about visiting the marketplace, especially in the evening when cars seem to park up with impunity. I will keep asking and keep trying to protect this space.

Fly tipping and rubbish

Whilst I don’t have a specific update, this might be a good time to remind readers about some work Seyi (one of our previous councillors – as if you could forget her!) and I did on the marketplace to try to tackle the constant stream of rubbish left there. You can read my original blog post on that work here, and the update here.

Over running of works and impact on businesses

I did try but I can’t write this post without mentioning the huge local outpouring of support for Number 8, which launched some crowd funding along with an expression of distress at the impact that the local works have had on them. I unfortunately couldn’t attend the local meeting that our Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz set up, but an update from that meeting has been published and sent to those who attended and those who were interested but couldn’t make it, and you can read it here if you haven’t see it already:
Shape Forest Gate Newsletter_Final July 2019.

Apologies that this is a bit of a mishmash of information, but it’s all frequently asked enough that I thought it was worth including. As ever, any questions do ask me. I do my best to keep up with social media queries, but if you absolutely need a response please do send me an email: Rachel.tripp@newham.gov.uk  It might take a while, but I will get back to you!

 

 

 

 

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