Woodgrange and Capel LTNs

Next week, residents who live in the Eastern side of Forest Gate North ward (the area bounded by Sebert Road, Woodgrange Road, Capel Road, and Ridley Road. As ever, no calling this ‘the village’!) will receive a leaflet giving an update about the next stage for the proposed Woodgrange and Capel Low Traffic Neighbourhoods or LTNs. If this term is entirely new to you, there is information in the leaflet, but also I wrote a blog post here that explains, albeit imperfectly, the concept of an LTN.

‘Capel and Woodgrange LTNs’ were previously sometimes called LTNs 5 & 6, and have been renamed for clarity but also I think, perhaps in a spirit of ambition: perhaps in future there will be so many Newham LTNs that a numbering system would become confusing? Certainly the older LTNs, which exist right across Newham, were not called LTNs or indeed numbered, they are so much a part of the furniture that we often don’t notice the series of bollards and road closures which prevent cars from cutting through in various key places.

Residents in this area might remember that there was a street survey asking for opinions about what the area is like at the moment. You might have also noticed (as I have) those cables that run across various roads being installed and uninstalled at various points. This was all part of capturing information, both data on traffic numbers but also qualitative information about how people feel about how our streets feel to walk and cycle along.

This leaflet is the next stage: it summarises what we have found out, suggests an LTN as a way of tackling some of the issues raised, and explains what happens next.

I am, as regular blog readers will know, a strong advocate of measures that improve our roads for people walking, scooting, wheeling and cycling, and hence am also a strong supporter of LTNs. I know that not everyone feels the same way, but quite apart from the pleasant aspects of quieter, more peaceful roads, there is also an important issue of environmental and social justice here too. I honestly believe that over the next few years we will need to make really significant changes to the way that we live in order to adapt our lives to try to limit climate change, and changing how we move around, and adjusting our assumptions about who drives, and when and why on residential roads in London and other cities will be a vital part of that.

That said, I know that any changes to road space will raise concerns and questions, many of those from people who share the aims above but want to make sure that any changes are practical, and work as well as they can. People are often worried about emergency services access, for example, or access for disabled people. These issues are really important, and liaising with emergency services and with disabled residents and organisations is a vital and ongoing part of the work that colleagues in highways are doing as they work on a design. Along with other councillor colleagues, and officers, I’ll try my very best to answer as many queries as I can, to listen to concerns and worries and complaints, to pass on ideas for improvements, to flag up issues that we can resolve, and to generally engage in collaboration so that we can make our roads work together, for everyone, in the best way that we can.

You can see the leaflet that is going out using this link:

There is, needless to say, more information coming out. The next stage will be to share the proposed LTN design: to show where the proposed filters are. As soon as I have information on this I will share it.

In the meantime, there is information about the impact of previous LTNs in the leaflet, or if you’re curious to see an LTN in action, it’s easy to do so: just cross Woodgrange Road into the roads that go west towards Stratford.

PS: I can’t write this post without acknowledging, again, the ongoing disruption caused by the negotiations about refuse collectors’ pay, and the strike. This is, as we expected, meaning that bin collections are of course disrupted as we catch up, but also resulting in less street cleaning, and the ongoing suspension of services like bulky waste collection and Love Clean Streets reporting. I’m really sorry about the inconvenience caused by this, and saddened to see our streets looking less cared for, but also I, and I know many residents too, entirely respect the rights of the refuse workers (and any workers) to strike, and to ask for better pay. I also think that whilst the negotiations go on, it’s important that work continues on all other other areas that the Council works on, and this is part of that.

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Temporary waste drop-off points

Temporary waste drop off sites.
Image of a hand holding a full black bin bag.

You may well already be aware that Newham refuse collectors are on strike for a week, from the 27th August to the 3rd September.

This means that rubbish collection, recycling collections, as well as street cleaning, and other waste related services are all disrupted, both during the strike and also afterwards as the service catches up and gets back to normal.

The very best way to manage, if possible, is to reduce as much as possible the amount of waste that your household produces. Colleagues in the waste team have provided a range of information about how to do this, which you can find online here: www.newham.gov.uk/wasteadvice

But if you produce more household waste than you can safely store during the strike, there are a number of drop-off points across the borough that you can take bagged up household rubbish to. There are only a relatively small number of these because in order to create temporary sites, we need to make various arrangements including getting Environment Agency permission.

Temporary drop-off sites

Between Saturday 27 August and Sunday 11 September, residents can take their bagged household rubbish to one of the following Temporary Waste Drop-Off Sites at:

  1. Little Ilford Park Service Area, Reynolds Avenue, E12 6JU
  2. Shaftesbury Road Car Park, 85 Shaftesbury Road, E7 8PD
  3. Church St Car Park in front of shops, 30-46 Church Street, E15 3HU
  4. Freemasons Road / Coolfin Road Car Park in front of shops,  78 Coolfin Rd, E16 3BE

The Temporary Waste Drop-Off Sites are open daily, 7am to 8pm

Jenkins Lane Re-use and Recycling Centre is also open for residents to take their waste to.

Jenkins Lane, Barking, IG11 0AD
Opening hours 7.30am – 5.45pm, Monday to Sunday

You will find an interactive map to help you locate your nearest drop-off site at https://www.newham.gov.uk/rubbish-recycling-waste/waste-recycling-service-changes/2

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Congratulations to Sasha!

Massive congratulations to Sasha, my Forest Gate North councillor colleague, on the arrival of her beautiful baby boy. Am so delighted for her and for all her family.

There is a reason why I am sharing this here, though, which is that with the new ward boundaries, Forest Gate North ward is now a smaller, two-councillor ward.

In practical terms, that means that for the next couple of months at least, whilst Sasha recovers, and takes some time to get to know her new arrival, it’s just me keeping things ticking over as the lone Forest Gate North councillor.

No need to feel sorry for me – I am very fortunate to be surrounded by good friends and colleagues, and various people including the Mayor have kindly offered to be on standby to help pick things up, so I am confident that things won’t be missed or dropped, and the ward and residents won’t suffer.

But in the meantime, please do bear with me as I try to balance a combination of being on my own, and the summer holidays. As always, the best and most reliable way to contact me is by email. It might take me a little longer than I’d like to get back to you, but I will get back to you and will help whenever I can. My email address is rachel.tripp@newham.gov.uk

I hope that you’re all having a lovely summer, and appreciating today’s light rain as much as I did.

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Do you have an idea for a local project?

The new round of community assemblies has started, with our first Forest Gate and Maryland community assembly held last week.

If you aren’t familiar with this work in Newham, where local residents can vote to allocate money to projects created and run by their neighbours, and local voluntary organisations, you can find out more about it in this video here:

Community Assemblies, the story so far

All the official information about the process, including forms and guidance about how to apply for funding, are on the Newham Co Create platform here:


If you’d like to apply to be a member of the Working Group that oversees the process, or if you’re thinking of applying with a project but have some questions, you can email the staff at the Gate library on CN.ForestGate@newham.gov.uk

This year, you can also attend a project clinic to learn more about applying for funding. There are two separate clinics being run, one for individuals, and one for voluntary organisations:

Project clinic: Resident applicants Monday 30th May, 6-7:15pm

Project clinic: VCF applicants Tuesday 31st May, 6-7:15pm

Last year, residents’ votes allocated money towards a range of different projects, from installing planters on Upton Lane, from a raft for nesting birds in Forest Lane Park, to brightly coloured pavement art to signpost families to local playgrounds. You can read about all of the successful projects here:

If you are in Forest Gate North, and you have a project in mind, and would like to discuss it informally, please do drop me a line. The staff at the Gate are the experts in terms of the process, but if I can help then I will very happily do so. My email, as ever, is rachel.tripp@newham.gov.uk

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Thank you!

It’s now May the 17th and I feel like I am only now emerging properly from the post-election haze and back into something like normal life again. The last few weeks before an election are always busy with campaigning but this year’s campaign was particularly short for various reasons.

Campaigning for an election is surprisingly fun. But it’s also very physical work, with lots of walking around, carrying bags of leaflets, and a fair bit of tramping up and down stairs.

So Sasha das Gupta and I were tired but happy by the time it came to the count, the results were announced, and we were re-elected as Labour & Co operative councillors for Forest Gate North.

I’d like to thank everyone who voted for us. Being re-elected is a privilege, and not one that either of us takes for granted. We have knocked on almost every single door in the ward over the past few months and spoken to many people, and we’ll keep on doing so during our term of four years. Big thanks also to those local Labour members who helped with campaigning, to our opponents, to the Council officers who worked hard to make the election work, including counting all those votes, and especially to all the residents who offered support and encouragement.

In the meantime, there is plenty to do. The problems with recycling collections seem to have abated for the moment, but the situation with so many missed collections was really not up to scratch at all, and is being taken extremely serious by everyone. Turn out was low across Newham (and elsewhere) and we need to keep on working hard to show how important local government is, and to encourage people to have their voices heard.

It is a smaller ward this time, with part of the old Forest Gate North having been carved off to create the new ward of Maryland. So we are now a two councillor ward, shortly to briefly be a one councillor ward when Sasha takes some time away from the role to adjust to another new role, of being a mother! During this time I’ll post online about who is available and when, and will draw on support from colleagues as needed to make sure residents aren’t left without representation.

This map shows the new ward and its boundaries. Some of you reading this may see that you were previously part of Forest Gate North but now you are not. If that’s the case then it’s been a pleasure representing you (and you can naturally carry on reading the blog!).

For those still within the reduced ward, I’ll carry on working as hard as I can to promote everything about Forest Gate North that is so brilliant, to improve those things that aren’t, and to help those who need it.

Full election results for all the wards are online here: https://www.newham.gov.uk/council/local-elections-2022

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The Forest Gate Festival needs you

I got this message from the organisers of the Forest Gate Festival. Read on to find out how to get involved, to secure the future of our much loved community festival.

Are you…
an organisational talent, a social media whiz, a keen market-goer, a creative mind, entrepreneurial, good with words, or simply someone who loves Forest Gate’s diversity?

We are excited to announce that after a Covid hiatus, the FGF will be back this summer. We are a diverse group of Gaters looking for local volunteers to join in the preparations for Forest Gate’s iconic street festival on Osborne Road. The one thing we have in common: a passion to put on a truly special community day!

To find out more, please join us on the

Date: Saturday 12 March
Time: 11.00-12.00
Venue: The Gate (FG Library)

If you are keen but can’t make it, email theforestgatefestival@gmail.com to let us know.

The next FGF Committee meeting will be held in the same venue on Thursday 17th March at 6pm.

Let’s welcome back the Festival together.

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Litter and street cleaning

As with so many other issues, street cleaning can feel a bit incendiary, so part of me hesitates to post this. But here goes…

I had a couple of weeks where I had a small flurry of emails from residents concerned about the appearance of our streets. Not a huge quantity, admittedly. And emails about this, and all kinds of other issues aren’t exactly uncommon. But getting emails from different people (who I don’t think know each other) with a set of overlapping concerns but primarily about street sweeping, raised a bit of a red flag for me.

When I get an email request from a resident, the ‘standard’ way to deal with it is to send it in to a Council service called Members’ Enquiries. This lucky team acts as a central conduit for all the questions, queries, complaints and ideas that come via Councillors and via our MPs, they maintain a central system where they are logged, sent on to departments, and actioned or replied to as needed. The usual turnaround time is about 10 working days. I will then send a holding message to the resident, letting them know I’ve sent it, on, and encouraging them to get back to me if I’ve not replied after two weeks so that I can chase it up.

But I had myself also noted more litter on the streets, on the school run, and when out running errands. And this seemed to point to a wider problem, not just a one-off location where something had gone amiss. So rather than just send the queries off separately and wait for a replies, I decided to try to understand a bit more about what might be going wrong.

I got in touch with the Cabinet Member for Environment and Highways, and Director of Highways, as well as various other officers particularly those who work in street cleansing, or road sweeping / litter picking as we might call it.

I went for a ‘walk about’ the ward with an officer whose role is a kind of trouble shooting one, and we visited various roads including those that had been flagged up to me as particularly problematic (in this case, Cranmer Road, Station Road, Sebert Road, Kuhn Way and others), checking on the presence of litter, on fly tips, seeing where weeds had or had not been removed, and generally doing a kind of quality check.

I also found out that, as I had suspected, at the time staff sickness levels were very high, largely due to Covid and the Omicron variant, and the then requirements for isolation. There was some ad hoc agency cover being arranged (which in itself is not ideal, and can result in a lower standard of work as the agency cover employees do not know our streets and routes and systems as well), but also some shifts were left without cover temporarily, which resulted in the litter and inconsistency that we all noticed.

I also got in contact with the Officer who is leading on street cleaning (who I was actually on the interview panel for, who arrived from another borough very experienced and also ambitious to make some improvements) to find out more about some of the additional resource that I had been told was going into street cleaning.

He told me about the following:

  • The current ‘rounds’ (the routes taken by each member of staff) are not fit for purpose, and we do not have sickness or absence cover which leads to inconsistency. Having brought the three separate companies for street cleaning back in-house, we now have a new Head of Street Scene who is leading a borough wide project to transform the service. This includes using software for the first time to plan the best and most efficient routes. This is going to take around 6 months to implement, and in the meantime we have taken on nearly 50 agency staff on a permanent basis to give more consistency, and also created 3 ‘Newham Tidy Teams’ to do proactive cleansing and enforcement of fly-tips on major roads.
  • We are currently in the process of finding an external enforcement contractor. This process has been agreed, and the tender will be out in March, and I’m told that we should see a ‘hugely increased litter and fly tipping pro-active service’.
  • Previously, inspection of streets to see the effectiveness of our cleaning and litter picking was done by a small team of Newham employees. This is quite standard, but also could be described as ‘marking our own homework’. Now we have been using Keep Britain Tidy to inspect and rate our streets and give us a baseline for our current standards, and a robust way of measuring improvement.

I went out around the  ward again last week with an officer, to the same locations, and although we did pick up some litter and reported various fly tips, there was a definite and marked improvement in the appearance of the roads.

The officer also told me that she had advised the street cleaners to be particularly assiduous around schools, knowing how high the pedestrian footfall is here, and that the condition of these streets has a particular impact on everyone. I know myself how much more aware I am of litter when I have a small person next to me, and my attention is right down at her level, or when I used to push a buggy, trying to avoid dog mess etc. We also specifically went to and walked along the border between Forest Gate North and Waltham Forest, to pick up some comments one resident made about a perceptible difference when you cross into Newham.

I then (although belatedly) got back to each of the people who’d messaged me, letting them know what I’d done and what is planned.And once I’d done that, I thought I’d write a blog post too, to share the information more generally. So here we are.

Now, I’m not claiming to have solved litter. Absolutely far from it. But I have seen some noticeable improvement. I’ve also become better attuned to whether litter is new or old. Brightly coloured litter, dry and holding its shape, has probably been dropped recently by someone who walked along after the road had been swept. Discoloured, squashed litter, that has been ground into the road, or leaves which are breaking down into mush, or plastic that is cloudy or faded, suggests that the litter has been there for longer, which can point to a road being missed out.

(A quick reminder, which I know is tedious, but it does help: please do report litter on the Love Clean Streets app. Under the ‘street cleansing’ option you can report a wide variety of unpleasant things, including fly posting, litter, blocked gullies, damaged litter bins and more. This all helps to give a picture of the ward, and where problems are occurring, so that officers can try to improve systems to prevent them, as well as physically sending out a team to clean up.

Take care all, especially those with friends and relatives in Ukraine x

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Launch of the Forest

Am SO delighted that this cold and grey January has been brightened up by the launch of the Forest: an online magazine for Forest Gate.

Dreamed up, hosted and promoted by the ever-creative Aiden at Tracks E7, his newest creation is an online magazine which includes articles by local people, recipes, profiles, interviews, events information, and even an online forum.

I had a chat with Aiden, pictured above, and asked him to tell me and readers of the blog a few things about this new project.

First of all, I wanted to know what was behind his decision to set up the Forest?

“As Forest Gate is such a unique ecosystem with many artists, creatives and entrepreneurs, we wanted to create an easily digestible platform to showcase this with content that has a more personal touch that appeals to people from all walks of life – ‘a paper for people, by the people’.

Additionally, small businesses especially in the arts, hospitality and retail sector have been adversely affected by the pandemic. The Forest can be a medium to increase awareness of local business in Newham and the surrounding area plus drive footfall to aid their recovery and reorientation in navigating the post-lockdown landscape.”

He says the biggest challenge in getting it out there was, “Getting the look and feel of the platform right. For us this was a delicate balancing act as naturally we want it to be aspirational and have universal appeal but at the same time not too glossy that it comes across pretentious.”

In terms of what the publication can contribute to Forest Gate, he said, “The pandemic has been a catalyst in many of our local residents reevaluating their careers and lifestyle. Our vision is to nurture an inclusive and cooperative economy that supports local creatives and encourages entrepreneurship regardless of age, background or experience.

“A collaborative platform that champions community, we will shine a light on small business and grassroots projects all through the lens of budding writers and local authors.

We hope The Forest will help the local area evolve further into a destination and drive local economic growth so we’re retaining an emergent wealth locally and building a green, circular economy.
We’ve been overwhelmed by the amazing reaction we’ve had to the launch of The Forest and we hope it enriches local life in the borough.”

Aiden doesn’t sound like a man with much free time, but he still has plenty of new stuff coming up, “We will expand on our editorial with video content in the pipeline plus we’re exploring launching a print edition in the near future and a radio station so we can shows and podcasts.

“With Tracks, though the emergence of Omicron wiped out our Christmas trade, it’s a more positive outlook on the horizon with an exciting events programme planned with live bands, supper clubs and workshops plus we’re planning a spring/summer schedule of festivals down the Avenue Arches station strip.

“We’ve also got some amazing news on a regeneration project that we’ve been working hard on behind the scenes and can reveal very soon so stay tuned…”

Can’t wait to hear more. Big thanks to Aiden and his team for all their work.

Don’t forget to check out the Forest, which is adding new articles all the time, if you’d like to contribute to it in any way, you can use the contact form on the website here.

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Astroturf on Wanstead Flats?!

I have to admit that when I first heard someone say there was a plan to put astro-turf on Wanstead Flats, I assumed that it was a rumour that was unfounded.

Quite apart from anything else, I remember vividly meeting with the Corporation of London with Ellie Robinson and Seyi Akiwowo, and learning more about how the Flats are managed and maintained. One point that was made, quite firmly, was that the trustees who oversee the Flats were of the view that Wanstead Flats primary role is a ‘wild space’ and unspoilt, and hence the residents’ requests that we were bringing for additional litter bins, and for signage about litter and dog waste, were impossible to accede to, because even the erection of a bin would be an unnecessary and therefore unwanted intrusion of person-made structure onto an untouched space for wildlife.

So I dropped a line to my contact at Wanstead Flats, tentatively asking whether there was any substance to this idea, and was fully prepared to be told that this was a scurrilous falsehood, and would never be allowed.

I was surprised, therefore, to get an email back* confirming that this is an idea that the Corporation are looking at. I thought in the interests of clarity, I might post it here so that all the information I have is shared, verbatim, in one place:

Thank you for your email regarding artificial grass pitches. This possible project has been in discussion since 2016 and has been referenced in a number of public papers but is being looked at again in more detail this autumn. I have just posted the below on our website by way of an update and hope this answers your query for now – more detailed information will be presented when we consult, as much of this is still to be looked in to. Planning permission, flood risk and environmental studies will all be required before the project could be approved.

Over the past 130 years Wanstead Flats has provided a key facility for sport in East London, alongside widespread provision for informal public access and nature conservation.

In July 2016, the City Corporation approved the submission of an ‘expression of interest’ for the Football Foundation funded ‘Parklife’ Football Hubs Programme – a national initiative designed to improve access to grassroots football. This submission was of interest to the Football Foundation, who would like to see more frequent access to inclusive grassroots football training and competitive matches in East London.

The Football Foundation granted £34,000 to commission early scoping and feasibility work which commenced in late 2017, with no commitment to progress the project. Following initial desk-based feasibility work the Football Foundation consented, in principle, to fund an ambitious project on Wanstead Flats. The City Corporation granted the same ‘in principle’ match funding in October 2020. The project seeks to provide additional facilities at the Harrow Road football site on Wanstead Flats, including the installation of three Artificial Grass Pitches (AGPs).

The project partners are still at the very early stages of project development, which has only just recommenced after a lengthy hiatus due to the pandemic. It is important to the partners to gather public opinion about any potential project and a programme of consultation will be an important part of any project development. However, the partners still have initial viability studies to complete, including outline planning advice to ascertain how feasible proposals are and to fully understand any constraints before the partners are in a position to consult the wider public.

The proposed project aims to sustain current levels of grassroots football provision on Wanstead Flats, which supports several health, wellbeing and diversionary activity targets for the local community. It also aims to reduce the overall footprint on the Flats taken up by sport by replacing 17 of the grass pitches with the three artificial grass pitches. This means that around 34 acres of Wanstead Flats can be recreated for ecological benefit such as wildflower meadow or species-rich grassland. At the same time the durability of AGPs will increase football pitch availability for use by local clubs, soccer schools, schools, afterschool clubs and the wider community.

As soon as public consultation is launched, expected to be later this winter, the partners will announce this on social media and the website.

So that was surprising, and potentially alarming, to say the least. Although the consultation isn’t open yet, I did reply almost immediately and said:

I’m aware that the Harrow Road pitches aren’t adjacent to Newham, but the whole of Wanstead Flats is nevertheless a much-treasured local space, and so I’d be really grateful if you could pass on to your colleagues who run the consultation that I’d really like to be kept informed about any progress with the project.

I can’t speak directly for all of my residents, of course, but I feel reasonably sure that their responses would be similar to my initial thoughts: welcoming the ecological impact of more areas being wilded, concern that the pitches should still be available to community teams who may have small budgets, and concern also about the environmental impact of astroturf on local wildlife, and micro-plastic pollution.

I’m going to share your response on some local social media, where people have been asking with some concern about AstroTurf on the flats, as I know this is something that people are worried about – indeed it’s come up in my emails and on the doorstep already.

I haven’t yet heard anything else, so can only assume that the consultation has not yet started, but will chase this up again if no more information is forthcoming. I do try to be open-minded about proposals, but I have to say that my instinctive reaction to the idea of any artificial covering on any part of the Flats is a firm ‘no way’. The potential impact on wildlife, not to mention flooding, is quite alarming. As soon as I know any more, I will share it, here and also on social media in places like twitter.

I hope this post is useful – I’m aware it doesn’t say much but thought this issue was sufficiently important that it was helpful to publish it as a stand-alone piece.

*Actually, having checked, the email I got with all this info wasn’t in reply to my initial email, but was in response to an email to the Corporation that a resident kindly copied me into. Big thanks to Jan for copying me into her query.

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Improved recycling

We had such good news at Council last night that I had to log on quickly and share it.

I know that James Asser, Nilufa Jahan, and a dedicated bunch of officers have been working hard behind the scenes for a considerable time now to make long overdue improvements to our recycling service, so many thanks to them for taking this forward. Like many other people in Newham, when we first moved here 17 years ago, I sent an incredulous email to the Council thinking that surely – SURELY – there was some mistake and Newham offered kerbside glass recycling?!! But, no.

Some Forest Gaters might remember the recycling trial that took place, which I wrote about here: https://forestgatenorth.com/2020/12/15/recycling-trial/ which gave officers some of the data and feedback they needed. I was, and still am, impressed to see a trial like this being run properly rather than us rushing into a new area and making mistakes. I was also very struck that even though there were some elements of the trial that could have been more difficult (warning people for putting non-recyclable waste in their bins, and in some cases even not collecting them is really necessary, but obviously hard to do), I didn’t get any complaints or confusion from residents.

And now here we are. More materials can be put in our bins soon. The date we have is ‘Mid November’ but needless to say as soon as I have anything more detailed I’ll share it.

(I should probably slightly tediously add here that recycling is vital, but reducing the amount of waste we produce is even better in terms of reducing our environmental impact. There is tonnes of information online about how to do that, but I can personally recommend composting as an easy first step. Get a subsidised bin from Newham here: https://www.newham.gov.uk/rubbish-recycling-waste/composting)

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