The Corporation of London is currently consulting about the ‘management issues’ around the whole of Epping Forest, and is looking for input from people who use and love it. Although not part of Newham itself, Wanstead Flats, the southernmost part of Epping Forest, borders part of Forest Gate North ward, and is a very important and special place to many people in Forest Gate. People run there, play football, pick litter, watch fireworks, make snowmen, walk their dogs, teach their children to cycle…
In fact, a joint meeting with people from the Corporation of London was one of the first things Ellie, Seyi and I arranged after we were elected last year. (Publishing a report from that meeting is number 1,001 on the list of things I’d like to find time to blog about… apologies…) At that meeting we raised with members of staff from the Corporation issues that residents had raised with us including litter, bins, signage, and much more.
One of the main points that we took away was that the Corporation was planning a consultation to set a new 10 year strategy for 2017 – 2027 on how to manage all of Epping Forest, and that this would be a good chance to feed into decisions about these sorts of issues. And now here it is!
The consultation is online here:
Corporation of London – Epping Forest Consultation
I do not want to be misleading, and make out that this is simple or quick to do. This is a huge consultation, covering a wide range of topics. And it comes with all the usual caveats that dog consultation processes, about openness and transparency, about accessibility, about what questions are being asked and what decisions have been made beforehand. But I would urge anyone who uses Wanstead Flats to contribute to this. Wanstead Flats is very different from other bits of Epping Forest but is also apparently one of the most-visited parts, and it is so important that the Corporation hear from people who use and love – yes and people who are frustrated by! – the Flats.
If you want to respond you will need to register on the site. You can then log in and begin. Each section has introductory and explanatory text, then questions to answer, and a free text box at the bottom for any other ideas or comments. You do not have to answer every part of the document! The Corporation have assured us that they welcome comments from people who only want to comment on part of the document.
In the interests of making things more accessible (and in response to a plea from twitter!) I have summarised some of the areas below that relate to areas or topics that residents of Forest Gate may be interested in. I hope this is helpful.
Section 1 1.6.A ‘Keeping cycling on track’ may be of interest to cyclists. It examines the importance of cycling, but also some of the ways that unrestricted cycling can damage the landscape, wildlife, and cause a hazard to other people. Should there be more cycling? A speed limit? No cycling at night? This is the section to air those views.
Section 4 1.6.D is called ‘Keeping football alive and kicking’. If you are one of the residents who has contacted us about litter left by footballers then you may want to comment here. It points out that pitch hire is currently subsidised by the Corporation, and suggests some different ideas for improvements, including a changed (we presume increased) pricing structure, working to increase participation, and a facility for online booking.
Section 1.3, ‘A safe place for visitors’ looks at safety in Epping Forest. Should the Corporation do more work with the police to ensure that they know they can take action regarding behaviour on Wanstead flats? Or do anything else? Here is your section to comment.
Section 1.11, ‘An exciting natural playground’ looks at play and play areas in Epping Forest.
Sections 4.3 and 4.4 look at litter and fly tipping, and these are sadly the two issues that people contact us most often about. There is loads of really interesting information about the volumes of litter that the Corporation is dealing with, and some of the ways that they try to improve the appearance. If you think there should be more bins, or more signage, then this is your section to say so.
Please do go online, have your say, and make sure that the views of people from Newham are included in this piece of work.
Ellie, Seyi and I will respond to the consultation. Probably in the form of responding on the topics I have highlighted above. If there are specific things you want us to include then please let us know. But please respond as individuals as well: the more people who comment, the more weight our combined views will carry.