A result on Centre Road!

Centre Road with double yellow lines
Rachel writes…
I have been meaning to write this for a while, but was prompted to do so by the words of a resident in an email about Centre Road’s new double yellows, who said, ‘Small things like this can make a big impact on the community’.

Which is very true. And wise words for all of us who are struggling with wanting to right enormous and seemingly unstoppable wrongs – let’s start small. (And then let’s make BIG, big plans.)

Hence this belated blog post, to point out for those who haven’t noticed, and to celebrate with those who have: Redbridge have put double yellow lines down both sides of Centre Road!

If you haven’t been following this saga as closely as others then you can read why we were concerned on the blog here. In essence, after the RPZ was introduced in Forest Gate North, there appeared to be a large, and increasing, number of displaced cars and other vehicles parking all the way up Centre Road where previously there had been no parking.

Spurred on by complaints from residents, I was in touch with Redbridge, along with Seyi, at first gently then increasingly firmly, making the points that the vehicles parked were detrimental to everyone’s enjoyment of Wanstead Flats, were encouraging fly tipping along Centre Road, and most importantly were making the road extremely dangerous for all road users but especially for cyclists and for pedestrians.

It may or may not be a coincidence, but it was very soon after writing a very bald email stating my concern that we shouldn’t wait until someone had died to take action, that I was contacted to say that double yellow lines were going in as I had requested. There are often painfully few victories as a councillor, so I am claiming this one.

The picture above is one I took as we drove home from our holiday, south down Centre Road towards Forest Gate. A clear road, which is safer, and which has I believe already seen a drop in fly tips now that the area is not shielded by parked cars. A result.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Support Barry’s meat market

Rachel writes…

Many Forest Gate residents use and value our local, independent shops and among those that we treasure is Barry’s Meat Market on Woodgrange Road. Barry Parsons has been Forest Gate’s local butcher for many years and even I, a pescatarian, have queued up for his turkey at Christmas, and bought sausages for my meat-eating children there.

Some of you will be aware that Barry’s and the shops along 39 – 49 Woodgrange Road have been given notice, as the whole row is being redeveloped into new retail units with flats above. The good news is that Barry has obtained new premises: the old Siam Café in fact, further up Woodgrange Road, and has submitted a planning application in order to turn this building into his new shop.

You can find the planning application here, and I’m writing this blog post to urge any interested local residents to log in and support the application. Barry has applied to fit out the shop downstairs as a butchers, with shop front, meat preparation space, and delivery area at the back. The application also proposes flats on top, which would raise the height of the building by one storey compared to the existing roofline.

I have just commented myself, and said:

‘I would like to register my strong support for this application. Barry’s butchers is a very valuable local business that is a vital part of our high street, and has been in Forest Gate for many years. Once the buildings at 39 – 49 Woodgrange Road are redeveloped, the businesses there will be displaced, and supporting this application offers a chance for one of those local businesses to re-establish itself in an alternative premises in the same high street.

I believe that refurbishing this property would be a high quality addition to our high street, and would reflect local desire for independent businesses. The addition of residential units above will help to support the business, and will add high quality accommodation to the high street.

Although the proposed plans are a storey higher than the buildings are currently, I support this as the additional height is stepped back from the front, only goes up to three storeys, is very close to nearby stations, and is in keeping with the higher buildings around it.

I hope very much that this application is supported so that a local building can be refurbished, the high street supported, more residential units created, and a local business encouraged to grow and thrive.’

In order to comment, you have to create an account and log in, and your comments are made public. If the application goes to the Local Development Committee, then I will endeavour to attend and to speak in support, but you don’t have to do that, you can just register your comments online and leave it there, safe in the knowledge that you’ve done your civic duty.

Edited to add: the closing date for comments is the 25th July.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Forest Gate Jumble Trail 2017

Rachel writes…

Like many others, I had a ball at last year’s Jumble Trail: an ingenious event where you can register to have a stall in your front garden to sell your unwanted items, then use an online map to stroll around and pick up a bargain from your neighbours.

My abiding memories from last year are my girls playing out on the pavement between our neighbours’ houses, the fairy cakes I made selling faster than anything else, shifting a whole load of baby clothes to someone who obviously had exactly the same taste as me in children’s attire (bright colours, loud prints, pinafores, if you’re interested). And also my aspiration of clearing out loads of clutter being rather undermined by my eldest buying armfuls of plastic Polly Pocket playsets from down the road for pennies.

The good news is, it’s happening again! It’s on the 10th September and all details are on the flyer below. Register for a stall, or just put the date in your diary, and we can all turn out and enjoy the day all over again. With huge thanks to Elaine who organised last year’s, and to Kam who is stepping into her shoes this year.

FG Jumble Flyer 2017

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Parking on Centre Road

Rachel writes…

Lots of residents have been commenting recently about the long line of cars parked up Centre Road. These cars and other vehicles have been creeping up the road, and appear to have been displaced when the Residents’ Parking Zone (affectionately known as an RPZ) was created in Forest Gate North.

I’ve responded to a few threads on Facebook and some messages on twitter, but I thought it would be handy to write a blog post and put all the relevant information we have right now here in one blog post for easy reading.

Centre Road is not in Newham, it’s part of the London Borough of Redbridge (although Wanstead Flats, which it runs through, is managed by the Corporation of London). The long line of cars appear to be a combination of business vehicles, some abandoned vehicles, and other cars where the provenance is entirely unclear. Wherever they are from, it’s clearly a problem, making it unsafe for pedestrians to cross the road, making it unsafe for cyclists to use the road, and providing a line of cover that seems to be masking some crime and ASB, meaning that there is now more fly tipping on Centre Road and a trail of broken glass where the unobserved cars are being broken into.

So what are we doing about it? Well, when the RPZ was being designed for Forest Gate North, officers at Newham informed both Redbridge and Waltham Forest, so that they could consider any action they needed to take as a result. I’ve been in regular touch with a councillor from the Redbridge side, and also with an officer there. Sadly I have to confess this hasn’t had much result yet – I asked for double yellow lines on both sides of the road, was told this idea would be fed into their ongoing plans, then I asked to be kept informed if any parking restrictions were planned. But I only found out that lines were going in on just one side when I drove past the work being undertaken!

My councillor contact from Redbridge, Cllr Paul Merry, has met with the cabinet member from Redbridge with responsibility for parking to ask what can be done here, and I’m currently expecting an update from him. I’ve also been in touch with the Corporation of London, because the line of parked vehicles is so detrimental to everyone’s enjoyment of the green spaces of Wanstead Flats, and have asked if they want to join us in asking Redbridge for some action. It’s pretty clear to me, and to many residents, that what we really need is double yellow lines on both sides of the road, as this is a road that was never designed for cars to be parked along it.

Seyi has also suggested we facilitate a joint meeting between concerned Forest Gate North residents, and representatives from Redbridge, which is a great idea. I worry a little that whilst some of the inaction we’ve experienced is due to the fact that planning parking restrictions takes time and needs careful planning (if you’re one of the residents who sent me petitions and emails asking for an RPZ then you’ll know it took a couple of years to get to a place where we could move forwards) that might not be the whole story. I know of course myself that all kinds of things councillors wanted to get done have been delayed by us all putting time and effort into the election… but I’m also perhaps cynically a bit concerned that Centre Road is not flanked by Redbridge residents, and might therefore not be very high on anyone’s priority list. So if we need noise to be made to Redbridge about the impact of the cars there, it’ll have to be us who make it.

So our next steps are:
– to chase up the Corporation of London to check if they are on board
– to find out the results of the meeting Cllr Merry had with his colleague responsible for parking
– Seyi and I arrange to meet with him or her to share our concerns, including a walk down Centre Road to look at the cars, lack of space for cycling, broken glass and fly tipping
– depending on how that goes, we organise a joint meeting for residents to put their views.

I’m sorry not to have anything more concrete for you, but as ever, we’ll keep you posted.

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Stratford Gyratory- Have your say!

Seyi  shares…

Dear Stakeholder

The London Borough of Newham has developed proposals that will transform Stratford town centre. This will include removing the gyratory around the Stratford Centre and introducing two-way traffic movement on Great Eastern Road, The Grove, Romford Road and Broadway.

We have reviewed the key bus issues that were raised with the London Borough of Newham as part of their consultation and have used these to help inform our network planning. We are now carrying out consultation on the associated changes to bus services that can be achieved with a two way road network in Stratford town centre.

For further details and to provide your comments please visit: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/stratford-gyratory. Please let us know your views by 21 July 2017.

Posted in Seyi | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Newham’s response to Grenfell Towers

Seyi  writes…

Following the devastating fires at Grenfell Tower residents have raised concerns about particular blocks in the ward and in Maryland. I thought it might be helpful to collate key information in once place for residents and provide reassurance that all assessments and actions are taking place. If residents have any questions please do not hestitate to get in touch myself, Rachel or Anaum.

In the immediate wake of the fire at Grenfell Tower Newham Council accelerated its ongoing programme of fire risk assessments in council buildings, with priority given to tall buildings.

Forest Gate North ward has only one tall Newham Council block, Janson Close. Janson Close is 11 storeys high.  The last fire risk assessment was 4th April 2017 and the next fire assessment is due April 2018. Janson Close does not have the same external cladding made of aluminium composite material (ACM) that was used in Grenfell Tower.

Here is a reminder of Newham’s Fire Safety Advice:

  • • test the smoke alarm in your property regularly
  • • keep balconies and all communal areas free from rubbish, bicycles,electrical appliances or any clutter
  • make sure they know where your nearest fire exit is
  • if you are a smoker, please do not smoke in communal areas
  • always fully extinguishing cigarettes smoked in your home and dispose of them carefully and safely.

 

There will be an Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday 4th July, 7pm, discussing Health and Safety in high rise residential blocks. All OSC meetings are public and FGN residents can submit questions they would like me to put forward.

Screenshot_20170626-184815

The Mayoral Advisor for Housing has also written to all Housing Associations asking them to also conduct the necessary investigations and assessments. In Forest Gate North we have a few Swan Housing blocks. Below is an email I received on 20th June:

“Whilst our thoughts continue to be with those directly affected by the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, I am clear that our priority at this stage is twofold.  Firstly, we must provide as much reassurance as possible to our residents and stakeholders, recognising that this situation is particularly worrying to those who live in taller buildings.  Secondly, we must ensure that we have a clear understanding of our position regarding our tall buildings, so that we stand ready to respond proactively to any recommendations made as a result of this tragic event.

Some of you have been in contact over the past few days, however I wanted to write directly to our key stakeholders to ensure you are aware of the action we have taken so far and our plans for the coming days:

Action taken so far:

  • As well as carrying out immediate inspections of our blocks to ensure they were free of internal obstruction in line with our policy, we ensured fire safety advice was prominent on our dedicated resident website web4residents.org.uk and on www.swan.org.uk, including video safety advice from London Fire Brigade. We also briefed our front line teams on London Fire Brigade’s “stay put” advice and were able to refer residents to our website in the first instance.
  • We have reviewed all Fire Risk Assessments for our “high rise” blocks and confirmed they are all up to date and actions complete.
  • We have commenced a desk top review of all our blocks above five storeys.
  • By Friday afternoon, we had confirmed to our residents that:
  • We were reviewing all of our taller residential blocks and will consider any immediate lessons that can be learnt from Grenfell Tower.
  • Our refurbishment of the towers at Bow Cross in Tower Hamlets did not use the same external cladding as that on the Grenfell Tower. (We can also now clarify that they do not contain Aluminium Composite Material (“ACM”)).
  • Our properties at Oldchurch Park Romford are new build properties which have not been over clad and do not use the same external cladding as that on Grenfell Tower.
  • We proactively manage fire risk. We have up to date Fire Risk Assessments in place in all of our residential blocks that require them, including our taller residential buildings, and work closely with the London Fire Brigade, as our primary authority partner, to discuss fire safety requirements.
  • Our Health and Safety Consultants regularly inspect our buildings and our Estates Services Teams will continue to carry out their regular inspections of communal areas to ensure they are kept free of any items that might hinder residents exiting the building in an emergency.

Our desktop review has continued over the weekend and this week, as a result I am able to confirm:

  • After identifying blocks over 5 storeys, we targeted our detailed analysis on the cladding used in these buildings, highlighting blocks which are not built of brick and/or render.
  • We are now carrying out detailed analysis of these buildings to confirm if they have ACM present in the cladding, as requested by the Department of Communities and Local Government (“DCLG”), by reviewing the information in our asset management records, the building plans and drawings.
  • In the majority of cases, the blocks are owned and managed by us, but where they are not, we are contacting the owners to establish more details.
  • If this desk top exercise does not provide sufficient clarity on any materials used or highlights any potential for ACM to be present, then we will undertake site visits and carry out more intrusive surveys and testing in line with DCLG recommendations.

This work will both enable us to be prepared to deal with any recommendations that are forthcoming following this tragic incident and also to reassure our residents.

I hope that this information about our immediate response and plans for the coming days is reassuring and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the safety of our residents.  I will continue to keep you updated as our review continues and the lessons emerge from the ongoing fire investigation. Please feel free to share this information with your colleagues as appropriate. ”

On a side note I’d like to thank all residents that donated items to Coffee7 or 306 High Street. We have managed to send over 1/3rd of items over to survivors and are working with locally community groups to send some more needed donations this weekend. If you are keen to volunteer please do get in touch.

Posted in Seyi | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail Update

Seyi shares…

You may see the new train passing through Forest Gate on some off-peak services. There will be 11 new rolling stock sets in service by the autumn- woo!

“Good morning

I am pleased to announce that following extensive testing and preparation, the first of our new trains will be introduced into service today on the TfL Rail route between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield.  These are the new trains that will serve the Elizabeth line when the new central London stations open next December (as well as new tunnels).

new trains 2 new trains

Initially, the train will operate one return trip a day in the off-peak between Liverpool Street and Shenfield. Trains will also continue to be seen on the line as they are used for driver training and also further testing along the route. Further trains will be gradually introduced over the next few months, with eleven in service on the route by the autumn.

The trains are seven carriages (160 metres long) to fit the existing platforms at Liverpool Street and will later be extended to nine carriages (with capacity for up to 1500 people) when Shenfield services extend to Paddington in 2019.

Key features of the trains include:

  • Interconnected, walk-through carriages
  • Dedicated wheelchair spaces and additional multi-use spaces for buggies and luggage
  • More standing room with a mixture of longitudinal and bay seating
  • Air-conditioning
  • Intelligent lighting and temperature control
  • Three sets of double doors along each carriage for quicker and easier boarding and alighting
  • Improved travel information for passengers to plan their onward journeys

 

More information can be found on the TfL website.

 

New timetable

On 21 May we introduced a new timetable, providing:

 

  • Eleven additional services from Liverpool Street to Gidea Park in the mornings which will benefit customers travelling eastbound towards Essex
  • Three new services from Gidea Park to Liverpool Street in the evenings which will benefit customers travelling westbound towards central London

 

As a result of the introduction of these additional services there have been some changes to the timings of other services.  For full details please view the timetable here or check the TfL Journey Planner.

 

Other recent progress

As you will be aware a significant amount of upgrade work is being carried out along the route to replace track and overhead lines, improve stations and deliver step-free access.


In preparation for the introduction of the new trains and the future Elizabeth line, Network Rail recently completed significant work in the Shenfield area.  This included a newly built platform at Shenfield station, three new sidings to accommodate the new trains and the complete remodelling of a rail junction to improve reliability and increase capacity both for fast and stopping services.

 

Station improvement work

TfL and Network Rail are also working at stations to prepare for the Elizabeth line.  TfL has opened a new booking hall at Ilford York Road and completed ticket hall refurbishments at Manor Park, Seven Kings, Brentwood and Chadwell Heath stations. Work to provide new lifts at Manor Park, Seven Kings and Maryland is progressing well.

 

Network Rail is also lengthening platforms to accommodate the longer trains, upgrading ticket offices and installing lifts.  Step-free access will be provided at Harold Wood, Goodmayes and Gidea Park stations in the autumn, with Forest Gate following in early 2018. Additionally, a major station rebuild is planned for Ilford and proposals for significant improvements at Romford station are being considered by Havering.

 

For further information about the station improvements please visit TfL Rail improvements.

 

We appreciate the continued patience and support of our customers and neighbours while this significant programme of upgrade work continues.  The introduction of this first train marks the next stage in the delivery of the Elizabeth line that will deliver significant benefits for east London, including new trains, better stations and improved connectivity.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. You can also find further information on the Elizabeth line pages on the TfL website.”

 

If you have any questions you would like me to pass on to the Stakeholder Communications Manager please do get in touch

Posted in Seyi, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment