Having met with a number of our members at our last Annual General Meeting the Wanstead Society Committee raised our members questions (and others) at one of our recent monthly Committee meeting at Wanstead House (27th February), whereby Councillors Daniel Morgan- Thomas and Jo Blackman kindly attended.
Our hour and a half meeting covered a wide range of topics including; the phlebotomy service at Wanstead Hospital, plans for Wanstead library https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/about-the-council/future-plans-for-community-hubs/ , graffiti, street cleaning, bollards on Cambridge Park Road, Wanstead swimming pool https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/news/july/residents-invited-to-view-initial-design-proposals-for-the-new-wanstead-pool/ , concerts on Wanstead Flats, street tree cutting, facilities for teenagers and the planning portal https://wansteadium.com/new-homes-to-built-in-wanstead-on-top-of-old-ones/.
Health is one of the Society’s key focus points for this year, so we started off asking about our beloved phlebotomy service, as it had been noted that the service appeared to be reducing and increased waiting times were becoming the norm. The phlebotomy service affects the majority of people, as a blood test is often part of the routine care for multiple health conditions. Daniel Morgan-Thomas advised that the size of the phlebotomy team is going to increase from 2 to 3 people, plus a manager.
What about plans for our Library I hear you cry? We were told there will be budget proposal in 2020. Jo Blackman met with the person in charge and was able to relay to us that the intention is to group services on one site- hub use for the community, that local Councillors sought and received assurances that; there is no planned decrease in local services, the development will be in keeping with the area, there are three sites to be done before Wanstead’s and it will be energy efficient. Our Peter Arben voiced he felt a community hall must be included in the plans too.
Our Iris Vandenberghe told us what she’d be doing by way of organising for the removal of the Graffiti. She had been on a walk around with Tracy Scott from Civic Pride noting low level stuff- all was removed the next day. She said that Tracey Scott would like the public to report any graffiti seen https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/about-the-council/privacy-notices/civic-pride/
Both Councillors asked that the public let them know if they feel what they are reporting isn’t being actioned. Peter further enquired as to what happens when the graffiti is on private property? Daniel Morgan-Thomas thought the Council has limited authority in these instances unless it’s inciting violence.
Further updates from Iris Vandenberghe on our street cleaning included that the new automated street cleaner has improved the collection of litter. Jo Blackman was able to feedback that there is a re-organisation of the street cleaning planned and if any street cleaning picks planned to let Tracey Scott know, as there is a monthly meeting where it can be discussed. Jo has met with Vision regarding Christchurch Green, they have re-organised the rota, there will be an increased collection in summer and she has requested slightly bigger bins with lids, the request is under review.
Who has noted the bollards outside the Tree House Nursery School- former church on Cambridge Park Road? When the initial sprayed white spots appeared our Scott Wilding got on the case, emailed the appropriate people providing some alternatives to bollards, he requested the Councillors monitor the situation when we met. Jo Blackman said she had raised concerns, the latest plans are to include trees, cycle racks and bollards. Bollards are needed though, as people drive over smaller trees to park. There are also to be trees outside the accountants Tish Press & Co.
Daniel Morgan-Thomas responded to our questions on the Swimming pool telling us that redevelopment schedule is dependent on school holidays. Hopefully, work will be done this summer holiday with a view to open in the autumn. Our Eileen Flinter asked what the parking situation will be like and how will it be self-funding? Daniel Morgan-Thomas reply included that; the school will have priority use during term time in the day, there will be bus links to the area, the school will pay for the use of it during the day but will not pay the redevelopment costs as the charge is incorporated in the leisure centre plans. Further, the plan is for the fitness studio above it to provide yearly running funds. I asked if the plans will incorporate specific thought for those with disabilities, including access for parking, Jo Blackman said that she will keep an eye that is does.
Scott Wilding moved on to raise concerns that the plans for the concerts on Wanstead Flats are happening on land that comes under City of London and we couldn’t influence the impact these festivals will have on the wildlife. Jo Blackman advised that the concerts are planned for 2020, originally the plans were for multiple weekends which would have resulted in the area being shut for most of summer. Now the plan is for one concert over one weekend. Epping Forest Commons will meet on 30/5/19, residents and community groups are to be consulted and the licencing application has still to go through.
Our Geoff Horsnell commented that he had noted a large number of trees had been cut down in the area and the trees had not looked sick. Daniel Morgan-Thomas advised that it is council policy to only cut trees which are dead, dangerous or ill. All trees cut down will be replaced. Scott remarked that an email response he received said that the replacement of the trees would be ‘budget dependent’ at which Daniel Morgan- Thomas advised there will be an overall budget review in the next financial year. The Councillors are working with Peter Marshall on a project ‘Trees for Cities’ https://www.treesforcities.org/ .
Our Marion Temple told us that in the past new trees were planted with a water tube dug into the ground, tankards would come and connect to the tubes and water them. She asked if it be possible to resurrect this? Or at least have the tubes installed properly so the public could get involved in watering them? Jo Blackman advised that the government is introducing a bill for the public to be consulted on the tree cutting. The Councillors confirmed that the fortnightly garden waste collection is to start up again shortly and continue through the year https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/bins-waste-and-recycling/garden-waste/ .
Geoff further raised the matter that the Chestnut on George Green, M11 which the Corporation of London removed 2 years ago due to rot was earmarked to be made into a bench, as of yet no bench, Jo Blackman will look into this. Our Eileen mentioned that there is a considerable amount of mistletoe growing on the roads on the Ashbourne Road trees, could the council raise funds by cutting this down and selling it?
Eileen further requested if more could be done by way of provision of facilities for teenagers, such as an area for them to meet and socialise informally. Jo Blackman advised that the youth club has asked for help in advertising their services.
Who saw the article regarding the Planning portal as per the information in this link? https://wansteadium.com/new-homes-to-built-in-wanstead-on-top-of-old-ones/Jo Blackman was able to allay our concerns and state there are no discussions with developers on this, at this time. Scott remarked that more housing provision is needed but must be done within the confine of acceptable planning.
So, all in all we can report a fruitful meeting was had. We will continue to keep in touch with our Councillors and work with them. We’ll keep informing you of any updates and links you can access for useful information, proposals and ways to be involved in topics that affect Wanstead.