Residents Adopt Tree Pits to Help Local Wildlife Flourish

Tree Pit in Addison Road

The Wanstead Society and Friends of the Earth are urging local people to take control of street tree pits and plant native flowers to help wildlife.

In Snaresbrook alone over 2km of the land within ordinary streets are made up of tree pits, which can act as a thriving resource for the bee and bug population.

Recently, wildlife – especially bees – have been hit by poor weather conditions and an erosion of the native habitats which enable them to thrive.

Addison Road in Wanstead provides a prime example of where locals have taken this issue to heart. Wanstead Society member Colin Cronin got out and planted daffodil bulbs and native wild flowers in all the tree pits in this road in order to help promote native wildlife. He said “It’s an inexpensive and positive way to make good use of this land, but it also shows that residents living in these streets care about their neighbourhood as well as local wildlife. To make sure that the Council do not come along and spray weed killer on emerging bulbs always let them know which pit you have adopted”

Wanstead Society gardening supremo Marian Temple advises “always ensure you plant native or wild flowers as these require the least amount of care. If you adopt a tree pit, just make sure you give the flowers a drink once in a while

The photos on this page are from Addison Road and show what can be done to brighten up your street and give wildlife a helping hand.

The Wanstead Society celebrates 15th anniversary with free party for all our members

Happy Birthday

The Wanstead Society is 15 this year, and we plan to celebrate wit h a party in The George on Wednesday 20th June from 7:30pm – 9:30pm, so put the date in your diary!

 It’s free for all our members and we are throwing in some free wine and nibbles as well. Please bring a friend who is not a member as we hope to get some new faces on board and show you what we have been up to over the last 15 years, and how we can protect, promote and improve Wanstead over the next 15.

A lot has changes in 15 years……………….

In  Wanstead, in 1997,  a pint was £1.97, the average house price for a terrace was £123,000, the M11 link road was still being built, a zone 1-4 travelcard would set you back  £5.50, a litre of petrol was 61.7p and the current Chairman was still doing his A levels at Wanstead High!

Over the last 15 years the Wanstead Society has had a great deal of success in protecting and improving our community. We win some battles, lose some and some we continue. Below are a few of our more notable successes, failures and future campaigns.

1. Past Successes

Save the Evergreen Field –(the fenced off area fronting the High Street, between the park and the doctors surgery)

The Society originally formed out of the campaign to save the Evergreen field from development. Flats, a supermarket, a car park and much more have been mooted for the site. The Society maintains that it should be given over to the community for a park. It is currently owned by Furlong Homes, who – as yet – have no plans to develop the site.

Preserve the Day Care Centre in the Corner House and Maintain its Garden

A long campaign by the Society and local Councillors ensured that the day care centre for the elderly at the corner of Grove Park and the High Street was kept open, renovated and the Society maintains the garden free of charge.

Campaign to Renovate the Fountains at both ends of Wanstead High Street

The drinking fountains at either end of the High Street were renovated in 2007 after lobbying by the Society. Sadly, they are no longer “drinking” fountains as it is not cost effective to reconnect the supply.

 Tree Planting and Extra Litter Bins in Christchurch Green

Over the last 15 years we have ensured that all available spots for tree planting on Christchurch Green are full. In addition, in 2011 we secured and part funded new litter bins with lids for this park.

Supported the First Art Trail Wanstead in 2010

 In 2010 the Society was instrumental in starting up the first Art Trail in Wanstead and we wish it well for the future.

2. Continuing and Future Work

Fully Support the Wanstead Festival

 Since 2003 the Wanstead Society has been supporting and attending the Wanstead Festival and we hope to see it continue well into the future.

Planning

 Our primary focus is to ensure that the character and historic nature of the area is maintained. We continue to support and object to planning applications on a weekly basis, work with developers and have a permanent seat on the Council’s Conservation Advisory Panel (CAP) which examines all applications in conservation areas. In the past we have worked with major developers, such as Chepstow, to ensure good quality design for new buildings. To date, we are seeking to work with the developers of the Kinema next to the George Pub to ensure any new development is undertaken in a sensitive way.

 King George Hospital

 King George maternity units are planned to move to Queens Hospital in Romford along with the A&E departments. This will mean that Redbridge, which has a population of 260,000, would be left without a fully functioning hospital. The Society has attended every major meeting on this matter, as well as having made representations to Downing Street and MPs. The fight to save our only fully functioning hospital goes on.

Wanstead Police Station

Our local police station is not safe, and we continue to fight for it! We asked the Mayor of London if he would commit to keeping the station open for at least 18 hours a day with a staffed counter service – and he said “No decisions have been taken in relation to the future of Wanstead police station. The MPS is reviewing the whole of the property estate” (Question No: 2019 / 2011)

We also asked Ken Livingstone, Labour candidate, and Brian Paddock, Liberal Democrat candidate – both failed to give an answer. Until we have written proof that this station will continue to operate as it does, we will continue our campaign.

The future of our local NHS services

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Health authorities have been quick to seize on the news that Andrew Lansley has accepted the Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s recommendation to adopt Health for North East London’s plan for our local hospital trust to reduce health services at King George Hospital and increase services at Queen’s Hospital Romford … but it’s not going to happen yet.

The CQC has demanded that before any changes can be made, a lot of work needs to be done to overcome severe failings in the current health service provision.  So serious are these concerns to patient safety that the CQC has imposed emergency measures to move planned caesarean sections from Queens to the Homerton in Hackney; Queens has been restricted to 20 births a day and Kings to 7 and women from Essex will have to re-book with Essex hospitals.

When announcing his decision, Andrew Lansley said:  “Patient safety and quality of care must be our top priority.  I support the CQC’s findings and the decisions taken by the local NHS to support safe care at the Trust.  When we can be sure that these decisions have resulted in sustainable improvements in the quality of services for local people, the next set of decisions … will be implemented.”

Before the Health4NEL’s plan can be implemented, the CQC has told the Trust to develop an action plan to address the 73 recommendations which it has said are needed to ensure a real and sustainable improvement in patient safety and experience.  They will then monitor how the plan is applied and progress made before any of Health4NEL’s plan can be activated.

The main problems which will need to be overcome first are:

Maternity is considered the worst concern – poor service culture, staff shortages especially midwives and paediatricians, lack of learning from maternal deaths and incidents, abusive behaviour by some staff to patients and colleagues, lack of leadership by senior management.

A+E unsafe working practices, delays and bottlenecks, struggling to cope with the volume of patients, especially during winter, lack of staff (in July 2011 there was a 31% vacancy of A+E consultants).

Radiology insufficient radiography cover, low standard of work, inappropriate patient facilities due to lack of beds.

Delays in day surgery and radiology treatment affecting the impact of treatment and care.

Staff shortages less than 50% of staff at Queens are permanent, high levels of staff turnover, sickness, recruitment difficulties, high levels of vacancies – in June 2011 there was a 18% vacancy of nurses.

Other problems include poor response to complaints, lack of governance, lack of senior management expertise, lack of education and training, unprofessional behaviour of some staff.

It is unlikely that these problems will be solved quickly.  Cynthia Bowyer, the Chief Executive of the CQC said:  “We have been forcing the Trust to address issues on a short term basis but we have real concerns about safety in the mid to longer term.”

The biggest obstacle to the implementation of the changes is capacity.  Health4NEL’s plan is based upon reducing the number of patients at Kings and increasing them at Queens.  However, it is clear that Queens is not coping with its current level of patients, so that the CQC supports a recommendation to permanently cap the number of maternal patients admitted to Queens.

This is why the CQC intervened with its emergency measures to reduce the number of maternity patients at Queens now.  Maternity capacity levels are now becoming a problem at Whipps Cross and Newham hospitals, which will need to have additional facilities provided to cope with any increase in maternity patients.  Queens capacity problems are also evident in A+E, radiology and day surgery.

To compound the problem, the Trust’s workforce strategy for 2010-2015 states:  “To achieve the cost reduction plan the Trust anticipates that the headcount will need to reduce by circa 850 FTE (including temporary staff).”  The CQC has found an increase in patient throughput.  As this staffing reduction is part of Health4NEL’s case for supporting its plan, it shows a fatal flaw in this strategy.

The one good thing that has come out of all this is that there is formal recognition of concerns which have been dismissed or ignored in the past.

However, the bad thing that has come about is the adverse publicity about Kings and particulary Queens, which will make future recruitment even more difficult.

Once the Trust has been able to demonstrate to the CQC that it has solved its problems on a sustainable basis, the Health4NEL plan can go ahead… but are these problems solvable given the rise in population, lack of finance and staffing difficulties?  If they are solvable, how long will it take?

Proposed parking changes in Wanstead

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Redbridge Council is proposing a new parking strategy for the whole of the borough. Redbridge is a large borough consisting of many and varied locales, and we’re interested in the effect this plan might have in our part of it.

Under the proposed scheme parking meters would be installed along Wanstead High Street, charging for parking seven days a week between 7am and 7pm (an extension of parking restrictions from the present one or two hours). Furthermore, residents would be charged to park their cars outside their own homes.

Should this strategy go ahead, some potential concerns are that residents would consider paving over their front gardens so they can park there for no charge which would have a harmful ecological effect. Local traders could also lose business if people feel priced out of parking and shopping in Wanstead. The cost of introducing and policing the proposal could mitigate the possible benefits.

The public are told that this plan is being considered to deal with the 2012 Olympics, so presumably there should be assurances that any plans put in place will be removed once the Olympics are over.

At a recent Area 1 committee meeting, local councillors were made aware of the strength of local feeling over this issue. A group in Grosvenor Road who oppose the plans have started a petition.

The Counties Residents’ Association (CRA) has prompted Redbridge Council to reveal that it has asked a third-party company to come up with some options for the parking strategy. Once the council has decided which of these to use, the scheme will have to go to a three-month consultation with local residents, so it’s far from a done deal.

The Wanstead Society and the CRA will be keeping an eye on how this story develops.

Rats on the march!

rat

Submitted by a Wansted Society member and local resident:

“Hey, chaps, there’s a load of litter in the bins tonight!  There’s no-one on the Green, so let’s go along and poke around and see what we can find.  There’s sure to be  a few chips and even the odd bit of chicken – or best of all, some cheese – much tastier that underground cables!  And if some foxes come along and want to butt in, we’ll just show them our teeth and they’ll soon scarpa.  Are you ready, chaps?  Come on, let’s go!”

 Seriously, I dare say this could easily happen if something drastic isn’t done about the rats which not only I, but others have seen, even in day-light.  It seems to me that there is every likelihood of a link between the lack  and poor design of the bins overflowing with litter and any creatures that want to explore them.  In June 2009 a letter I wrote to the local paper about the lack and poor design of the bins on the Green was used as a basis for an article;  the paper made its own enquiry and was told that people should take their litter home with them. 

Perhaps the way to change the public’s expectation that litter bins will be there, is to remove them completely – then we would really find out what people would do with their rubbish!  Since that article, nothing has changed; no-one responsible seems to have given the problem a second thought.  In the meantime, the rats flourish on their pickings!