August 2019


Home from home


Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, being involved in a dispute can be a stressful and difficult time if you do not have the right advice to hand, says Ruhul Ameen, a partner at local solicitors Wiseman Lee

According to recent figures published by The Property Ombudsmen, the most common reasons for tenancy complaints are ‘poor management’, ‘communication and record-keeping issues’ and ‘problems with tenancy agreements, inventories and deposits’.

Similarly, separate research from price comparison website GoCompare suggests neighbour disputes remain a big issue in certain UK regions. Its survey found that London ranked as the UK’s number one ‘hotspot’ for ‘nasty neighbour behaviour’, while South East England was one of the top areas for ‘noise’ complaints.

This year, in a bid to increase protection for tenants, a raft of new laws have come into force. The Tenant Fees Act, which came into effect on 1 June 2019, now outlines specific rules relating to landlord payments. From this date, the amount landlords can legally request as a security deposit is capped to no more than the equivalent of five weeks’ rent.

Further new legislation focuses on tenant health and safety. The Fitness for Human Habitation Act came into force in March 2019, updating the former Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. All landlords, both social and private, must now ensure their properties are fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout.

Recent inspections of around 60,000 properties found that more than 4,500 had at least one Housing Health and Safety Rating Assessment (HHSRS) issue. The main areas for concern were broken smoke detectors, which made up 40% of all issues, while more than a quarter of the problems reported were stair trip hazards.

If the courts find that a property is not fit for human habitation, they may order compulsory improvement of the condition of the property, as well as possible compensation for the tenant. The criteria used to decide if a property is ‘fit for human habitation’ include: insufficient ventilation, not enough natural light, a serious damp problem, issues with the supply of water, drainage problems, lavatory issues, insufficient facilities to cook food, an unstable building or a property that has been generally neglected and in a poor condition. The penalties for landlords who breach the new rules are severe, with tenants now having more power to take action.

The advice for any tenant or landlord involved in a dispute is to seek expert legal advice to ensure a small disagreement doesn’t turn into a lengthy and bitter legal battle. Depending on the nature of the dispute, it might not always be necessary – or sensible – to pursue court action. Options such as alternative dispute resolution can often help bring a disagreement to an end in a speedier and often less costly manner.

Wiseman Lee is located at 9–13 Cambridge Park, Wanstead, E11 2PU. For more information, call 020 8215 1000

Charting the Charter (part 7)


In the seventh of a series of articles following the progress of the Wanstead Environmental Charter, Councillor Paul Donovan explains why you should return plastic packaging to the supermarkets

The work of creating a cleaner, greener Wanstead has focused recently on the need to cut plastics, especially from the High Street. Inspired by the excellent BBC programme War on Plastic, the people of Wanstead recently took unwanted plastic packaging back to Tesco, M&S and the Co-op.

Plenty of plastic was piled up in the trolleys, then delivered to the managers of the different shops. The managers showed a positive willingness to engage and continue the dialogue. Tesco pointed to its own recycling record.

The problem, of course, is huge, with plastic choking the planet. Now, the stuff is literally everywhere: in the food chain, water supply and air. It is estimated there are 19.5 billion single-use plastic items in the UK at any one time. And these plastic usage levels are set to triple by 2025. There were eight billion plastic bottles produced last year.

Something clearly needs to be done. At an individual level, we can all aim to cut out single-use plastic. Locally, Redbridge Council is aiming to cut single-use plastic in its various facilities as part of the new waste strategy.

Shops also need to stop promoting plastic. The fact supermarkets charge much more for loose fruit and vegetables than they do for those wrapped in plastic containers says it all. As we found on the #ourplasticsfeedback day of action, the supermarkets often quote recycling in defence. However, the real challenge is not to produce the plastic in the first place.

One disturbing part of the War on Plastic programme concerned the discovery that recyclable waste from the UK was being dumped in Malaysia, where it was burnt. This created transport emissions, then the damage caused by burning to the environment and the illnesses in the local population. A failure on all levels.

The story illustrated the dangers of an out of sight, out of mind approach to the problem. It is of absolutely no use to the planet if this country just transports the problem elsewhere for someone else to deal with the consequences. Recycling is good, but clearly there needs to be far greater scrutiny of the process – a verifiable, transparent audit trail to ensure waste really is being recycled in a sustainable way.

The tide of plastic can be turned around. It requires us as individuals to stop using the stuff, re-use wherever possible and recycle. Put pressure on the supermarkets to act, take the plastic back. Also, though, we must get government to act to stop this deluge of waste that is choking the planet.

For more information on the charter and to get involved, visit

Learning the ropes


Sian Paterson is Wanstead’s newest bell-ringer, learning the ropes at Christ Church. Here, she recounts her lessons so far and encourages others to help keep this tradition alive

I’m Sian, I’m 23 years old and I’ve lived in Wanstead my whole life (minus three years at university). I sing in the Parish of Wanstead choir, worship at St Mary’s and am involved in wider parish activities. Most recently, I responded to a plea to join the bell-ringing team at Christ Church to help keep the tradition alive.

Having only ever rung the bell at St Mary’s by pulling on a small rope (which I now know is called chiming), the thought of ringing ‘proper’ church bells was quite exciting! I had no real idea what I was letting myself in for but I like to learn new skills, so I thought, ‘why not?’

John Eyre, chief bell-ringer, invited my dad and I to the bell tower one evening for our first lesson. If you live near the church, you’ll be pleased to know that before we were let loose on the bell, it was tied so it didn’t make any noise!

The first thing I noticed is that you can’t see the bells, and the only way you can control them is by pulling ropes that dangle from the ceiling. I was told by multiple bell-ringers that it’s like “learning to ride a bike”. This is true, if you ride a bike with your eyes shut, or in the dark – you have to internally visualise what is happening above your head and sense the weight and balance of the bell without looking up! I’m hoping, eventually, my muscle memory will kick in and I’ll be able to ring the bells even better than I’ve ever been able to ride a bike.

John explained the different parts of the bell mechanism using a miniature model in the chamber. The woolly bit of the rope is called ‘the sally’, and when you pull down on that, it’s called the hand stroke. The end of the rope is imaginatively called ‘the tail end’ and when you pull on that, it’s called the back stroke.

Our progress has been quite good: in the first lesson, we learnt only the back stroke. For the second lesson, we learnt the hand stroke and put the two together. You can probably tell from my face in the photo that it wasn’t that easy at first. But I think I am getting the hang of it. I can’t wait to ring a bell that’s not tied!

Watching the current bell-ringers practice is really amazing. They’re a very welcoming bunch and very good at what they do. The team are still looking for new volunteers, so if this is something you might enjoy, do get in touch. It would be great to see more volunteers helping to keep this tradition going for future generations.

For more information on bell-ringing at Christ Church, Wanstead, email

Remember the cows?

At-the-watering-hole-scan©Karen Humpage

Karen Humpage announces the launch of her book featuring artwork and anecdotes of the cows that once roamed the local streets of Wanstead and Woodford

Wanstead residents may already be familiar with my work. My paintings of the cows that used to wander the local streets have been shown at Art Trail Wanstead and the Wanstead Festival, as well as being featured in this publication.

I recently finished writing my book on the subject, entitled Common or Garden Cows, which will be released in August. I’m very excited about the book coming out and keen to know what everyone thinks about it. I’m hoping to organise a ‘meet the author’ afternoon in a local establishment, and possibly do some readings from the book, so check my website for details.

I’ve already had the seal of approval from Year 3 pupils at St John’s C of E school in Buckhurst Hill. I spent a lovely afternoon there recently talking about when the cows used to come to town and showing them my cow paintings. In turn, they all drew and coloured in pictures of cows causing traffic jams and getting into people’s front gardens.

Growing up in Woodford in the seventies – Rokeby Gardens to be precise – I remember the cows ambling up the road, munching all the privet hedges and liberating the rosebushes of all their flowers. It seemed quite normal at the time, but I suppose if it happened now, there would be letters to the council! Not that cows would find much to eat in gardens nowadays. My bugbear of people losing interest in their gardens and turning them into car parks crops up in the book on more than one occasion!

I attended Nightingale High School and went horse riding at the Snaresbrook Riding School. I remember seeing the cows over The Hollows many times while out riding – we’d have to give them a wide berth in case they frightened the horses!

Here follows an extract from the book, taken from the beginning of Chapter Three, entitled Traffic.

‘A commuter’s day would not start well if they opened their front door to find a cow or three standing in the front garden. Having to run the gauntlet past a large cow to the gate was not an exercise most people would relish unless they fancied themself as a contestant on It’s A Knockout. So, most people waited until the cows moved on, leading to many seemingly outlandish excuses as to why they were late for work.

“I remember the cows well. We used to live in Beverley Crescent and I once had to call work to say I’d be late as three cows were in our front garden and I couldn’t get out of the house. They thought I was mad!”

The daily drudgery of waiting for a bus could be alleviated by the spectacle of a cow joining the commute. Not privy to the tradition of queuing, a cow could fill a whole bus shelter, leaving the poor commuters resigned to standing out in the inevitable rain. “There was a wooden bus shelter on Lake House Road…in it waiting for a bus was an enormous cow just standing there minding its own business.”’     

For more information on Karen’s book, Common or Garden Cows (£12.99), visit or follow Karen on Facebook at

High Art

Blue-irises-and-willow-pattern©Sally Medcalf

Sally Medcalf thanks her Wanstead High School art teachers for inspiring her creativity, which will be on show during the 10th Art Trail Wanstead next month

I was born and grew up in Wanstead, and was lucky to attend Wanstead High School, which has a fantastic art department. We had some great teachers – Phil Tootell, Don Campbell and Dave Hall – who were a big influence on me and gave me so much encouragement. They were very enthusiastic and inspired me to develop my art, experiment and push boundaries.

I did my foundation course at Sir John Cass School of Art, studied graphics and illustration at East Ham College of Technology, then worked in a graphic design studio. More recently, I have been attending a class at Wanstead House, which has given me a fresh perspective and has inspired me to challenge myself and experiment with different media and new ways of working to develop a more personal style. I will be showing some of my new work at Wanstead House as part of our group show.

Wanstead was a great place to grow up. I loved the outdoors and spent a lot of time in Wanstead Park and by the River Roding, which gave me an appreciation of nature. I seek to capture a sense of place. I love the landscapes of Essex, Suffolk and the North Norfolk coast, and I like to paint places that give a sense of peace and tranquillity, almost dream-like, in which time seems to stand still. I work in watercolour on board and I like the subtle colours of nature. I also like urban street scenes and like to paint and take photographs in Whitechapel and Spitalfields.

My biggest influence is Impressionist art, and contemporary artists I admire include John Tookey, Roger Dellar, Jan Munro and Mike Bernard. My work has been shown at The Association of Illustrators’ gallery, Leytonstone Arts Festival and Changing Room gallery, among others. And this year, I will be exhibiting at The Larder for Art Trail Wanstead.

To view more of Sally’s work, visit Art Trail Wanstead will take place from 7 to 22 September. Visit

Time to take part


Following the success of last year’s postcard art exhibition, Eugene Coyle invites you to be part of this year’s time-themed display during next month’s Art Trail Wanstead

One of the most satisfying elements of last year’s first postcard art exhibition was how many embraced the idea, interpreting the trail theme in many creative ways. It inspired me to run the exhibition again as part of Art Trail Wanstead, affording me the opportunity, once again, to communicate with many people locally and further afield.

I enjoyed the challenge of inspiring fellow artists and non-artists alike to enter an artwork on a postcard, even if they don’t consider themselves creative. We are all creative! The exhibition’s core success lies in attracting submissions from those who wouldn’t normally consider entering the trail. We received several entries from overseas last year, making the trail truly international!

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Art Trail Wanstead and the theme is ‘Time’. So, I am calling out to the local community to submit a postcard-sized artwork inspired by the theme, using any medium from painting or drawing to collage, photography, written word, textiles, printing, 3D, mixed media or any other form that inspires you.

I encourage anyone interested in entering to go for it and be bold, be creative. Or if you know someone who would be interested, please spread the word, locally, nationally or internationally.

The comments I received from last year included how those taking part enjoyed the challenge of interpreting the theme on such a small format, bringing out their inventive side. Others said it encouraged them back into art or were taking part in an exhibition for the first time. Last year’s exhibition was visited by many and I received compliments on the creativity of artwork and how interesting it was to see such a diversity of styles on show.

Another fun element of this kind of exhibition is that the work itself will be subject to the wear and tear of the post – this is part of the desired effect – and it may not even reach us (though hopefully it will). You simply create the work and then let go of it and see what condition it arrives in after its postal journey.

So, get your creative hats on, enter a postcard and be part of your local art trail. Encourage children to enter so they can have the fun of hunting for their own artwork as part of the event. We also hope to sell the cards for charity, so you will be benefiting others as well as yourself.

Send postcards to: Wanstead Post Art, c/o The Stow Brothers, 117A High Street, Wanstead, E11 2RL (include image title, medium and your name on the reverse) or deliver by hand to the postbox situated in The Stow Brother’s Wanstead branch. Postcards must be received by 31 August. For more information, email

Wild Wanstead (part 15)


In the 15th of a series of articles charting the Wild Wanstead project – which aims to transform Wanstead into a multi-garden nature reserve – Nicola Steele explains the benefits of living walls when garden space is tight

Wanstead is buzzing with builders, as usual. But how can we keep it buzzing with bees, too? In our smallish gardens, large extensions can significantly reduce available space for the plants and trees so essential for wildlife (and humans) to thrive in cities. But one solution to help enhance the natural habitat while you build is to wrap your extension in greenery – and a living wall is a way to do that.

Living walls are a growing trend around town and look set to become a more common feature of urban buildings because of the significant environmental benefits they bring. Whether for an office or someone’s home, green walls reduce air and noise pollution, create a natural environment that improves our health and wellbeing, support insect and bird life, and look great.

But one of their most important benefits is their thermal impact. With temperatures in France topping 45ºC this summer, it’s a reminder that Londoners are expected to face regular intense heatwaves in the years to come as climate change begins to bite. Urban temperatures are pushed higher by hard surfaces like roads, buildings, patios and drives which absorb and trap heat, and made worse by the heat released from air conditioners. This causes our city temperatures to be up to 10ºC higher than rural areas, resulting in what’s called the urban heat island effect.

Living walls are a great way to prepare for a new, hotter future because they help make buildings cooler in the summer (as well as insulating them in the winter). In fact, the cooling effect caused by plants transpiring means green facades effectively remove 50% of solar radiation.

There are lots of different ways you can create a living wall – from using a specialist supplier to produce a custom-made design feature to doing it yourself by installing vertical planters, or even just by leaving a few strategically placed flower beds so you can grow shrubs and climbers directly outside.

Living wall experts Scotscape say careful plant selection is important in vertical planters to keep the wall healthy and looking good all year round. You can download a plant list with guidance on the best options for living walls in all situations from their website ( They also offer free living wall training days for anyone who’s interested in creating a feature wall using plants.

As the ecological emergency deepens, every square metre of land we are responsible for becomes a precious resource for wildlife, and thinking vertically opens up a whole new space that can increase the footprint of your garden. So, at the very least, why not let a few pollinator-friendly climbers bring new life to your brickwork? Clematis, honeysuckle and jasmine will all look a treat.

For more information on the Wild Wanstead project, visit


20190620_183803Local councillors and campaigners in Ilford ahead of the climate emergency vote

Councillor Paul Donovan and Councillor Jo Blackman explain how the recent declaration of a climate emergency by Redbridge Council will impact on Wanstead life

Redbridge Council has declared a climate emergency, committing to go carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon free by 2050. The council unanimously carried the motion – brought by Wanstead Village councillors – on 20 June.

Enactment of the motion will bring the whole question of the environment up the council agenda. The big challenge now is to put the worthy words into action.

The motion commits the council to carry out a green audit of its services and tackle air pollution, particularly at schools. Plastic use is to be radically reduced in council operations, with efforts being made to cut single-use plastic right across the borough. The waste and recycling elements of the motion look to very much focus on stopping producing and throwing away so much in the first instance.

The council will look to make existing council-owned property as energy efficient as possible. Renewable and sustainable energy will be positively encouraged in Redbridge through the council’s planning, estate management, investment and procurement policies. Ideas like municipal renewable energy companies will be looked into alongside other London boroughs.

There will be big efforts to improve biodiversity, with tree planting plus the extension of wildflower planting schemes. There will also be advice on how to live in a more sustainable way.

Much of the content of the motion is drawn from the Wanstead Environmental Charter, with its emphasis on the need to address climate change, biodiversity and pollution. One of the five means to do this will be via better cycling and pedestrian facilities for people to enjoy. These ideas will be based on the lessons from the mini-Holland scheme in Waltham Forest, which has had a dramatic impact on tackling air pollution and improving health, with the number of households exposed to more than the EU recommended maximum amount of nitrogen dioxide dropping dramatically, from 58,000 in 2007 to just 6,300 in 2017. The recently announced Local Implementation Plan will see some of these developments coming to Wanstead in coming years.

So, these are exciting times, as the environmental face of Redbridge is set to change. The key, though, will be to keep up the momentum. The most important word in the motion is emergency. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the world had 12 years to stop warming going above the disastrous 1.5ºC. Well, we have spent the first year expelling more hot air on the subject; now, the time has come for action. Redbridge Council has expressed its intent to take on the crisis, but it will be ultimately judged by what happens on the ground to make this a reality.

For information on the environmental charter, visit

Eco-friendly trail

Screenshot 2019-07-22 12.08.18

The popular Wanstead Fringe Jumble Trail returns next month and this year it will be doing its modest part to help protect our planet. Mark Herring reports

As usual, the Fringe will unleash a full and varied programme of theatre, comedy, music and art on the people of Wanstead, with new venues and plenty of old favourites.

That includes the one and only Wanstead Jumble Trail, which offers a brilliant opportunity to clear out your wardrobe and free up some space in the toy cupboard – assuming you dare to open it.

The trail also provides a great excuse to get out there and meet your neighbours, steal ideas for your garden or just have a wander around the area. Who knows who you might meet – or what you might find? And this year, the trail aims to be more eco-friendly than ever.

Without wanting to sound too right on, man, there’s a real sense of environmental awareness in the community. This year’s Wanstead Fringe hopes to reflect that by bringing a greater purpose to the jumble trail, a purpose even greater than following the kids around as they hunt for plastic toys to fill the space you’ve made by getting rid of their old ones. Yes, the trail encourages everyone to reuse household items and keep them in use for longer. This year, however, it will also introduce new opportunities to repair and recycle too.

An expert team of seamstresses will have their needles at the ready to treat split seams, care for wonky buttons and reinvigorate worn elbow patches – if you’re sure you really want to wear elbow patches. If there are any Cubs, Scouts, Brownies or Guides in your household, you may also be interested in their badge sewing-on amnesty. Life doesn’t get much more Wanstead than that!

The Fringe is going green in other ways too. Look out for the plant clinic hosted by the Wanstead Community Gardeners. They will answer any questions you have about your indoor or outdoor plants and also hold a succulent planting workshop for under-10s. As you probably know, botanists consider the succulent a kind of cactus, while those who grow the plant as a hobby often disagree. If you’re not quite sure which side of the debate you’re on, why not take home a succulent of your own? Simply turn up with a household item to be recycled and a (non-) cactus-style plant is yours for the asking.

You’ll find this year’s main Fringe central hub behind the Corner House on Wanstead High Street, where you’ll be able to pick up a jumble trail map. You will also find a variety of jumble stalls.

If that’s not enough, a fully qualified bike doctor will be on hand (and knee) to help you out with any repairs. What more fitting way to follow the trail?

The Wanstead Fringe Jumble Trail will take place on 14 September from 12 noon to 4pm. For more information and to register to take part, visit