November 2020




Councillors Jo Blackman, Paul Donovan and Daniel Morgan-Thomas (Labour, Wanstead Village) explain the work they do in scrutinising Redbridge Council, and invite you to participate

When writing one of our monthly newsletters recently, it struck us that we spend a lot of time communicating with residents about what we’re doing locally to improve our area, but rarely cover our role in scrutinising the council through the committees we sit on. This might sound like a rather dry subject, but these committees play a crucial role in scrutinising the work of the council, which directly impacts residents’ lives.

Between the three of us, we sit on committees covering the full range of council services – health, education, place (covering environment and highways) and people (education, social care, youth and children’s services). There are also occasional groups set up to delve deeper into specific topics and come up with recommendations to inform council policy. These are called task and finish groups, or corporate panels. Most recently, we’ve been active in groups looking at climate change, biodiversity, transport and the social inclusion of older people.

The committees receive reports from senior council officers and Cabinet members on specific subjects, as well as regular updates on some standing agenda items. This gives us the chance to probe the strategic direction being taken by the council, as well as examining in more detail what that means for residents. Most weeks will see one or more of these committees meeting – now virtually – during the evening, enabling councillors to fit it around their day jobs.

Public engagement is also a vital part of these committee meetings. Residents can request in advance to join committee meetings to raise issues of concern. These are always heard at the start of the meeting and often provoke a lively debate. These interventions are particularly effective when they include personal testimonies about the impact of council policy on people’s lives. They can also directly influence and inform council policy, for example, following representations about proposed cuts to children’s centres.

Pre-lockdown, these committees also undertook visits to see how things are working on the ground. This has included visits by the people scrutiny committee to Wanstead Village to see the great work underway at the Woodbine centre, as well as by the health scrutiny committee to discuss the blood testing service.

Committee meetings are now broadcast online with all documentation available to the public. The council is also planning to undertake more outreach to encourage participation from a wider range of residents in council meetings. We’re always happy to help residents navigate the council’s committees, so do get in touch if you’d like to get involved or find out more about our work scrutinising the council.

For more information, email

All heroes

L1160875© Geoff Wilkinson

With the cancellation of Wanstead’s Remembrance commemorations this year, Colin Cronin is encouraging local children to create Wanstead’s first Poppy Trail and for us all to remember our fallen heroes

As Remembranctide approaches, our community’s thoughts turn again to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Their names are forever etched in stone on Memorial Green and their memories held in the hearts of so many family members and friends who still live in Wanstead today. They are true heroes who, for our tomorrow, gave their today and remain worthy of the respect and honour we pay to them each year with the familiar words “at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them”.

Heroism very much envelopes us in the same abundance today as it did during those past conflicts. Our NHS and frontline workers fight against a foe that is equally deadly, stealthier and perhaps far more lethal. Like the fallen on our war memorial, many of them have given their lives during this battle to protect us and should be considered in the same heroic light as those who have gone before them.

We as a community must do our bit too, through social distancing, wearing face masks and to curbs that can sometimes seem cruel, unnecessary or frustrating to our normal ways of living. However, it is these curbs that will help us stem the tide, prevent spreading the virus and allow us to support our NHS workers in ultimately defeating this foe.

With that in mind, it is my profound regret that there will be no official Remembrance Sunday or Armistice Day commemorations in Wanstead this year. There is no way to adequately maintain social distancing, prevent overcrowding or create a safe environment where this virus cannot spread amongst us.

We should still remember our heroes, however, so I am asking the children of Wanstead to please paint, draw or colour in poppies and place them in your front windows, next to your NHS rainbows, to create Wanstead’s very first Poppy Trail. The Memorial Green will also remain open for people to pay their respects and lay their poppies throughout Remembrance Sunday. However, we will operate a socially distanced queuing system this year with the entrance at the front of the memorial and the exit behind it.

I remain confident that Wanstead will come through this virus safer and stronger as a community from having worked together to defeat it. Until that bright dawn, for this year, let us remember in our own way all heroes who have given their lives for us and offer the prayer that we will all be able to come together again soon to commemorate them.

“As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust; Moving upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, To the end, to the end, they remain.”

The Wanstead War Memorial is located on Memorial Green – also known as Tarzy Wood – opposite Provender Brasserie, 17 High Street, Wanstead, E11 2AA.

‘This is going to be so lovely’: community gardeners strike again


The Wanstead Community Gardeners have revitalised another neglected patch in the local area.

“As if the new perennial border along the footpath connecting Cambridge Park with Draycot Road wasn’t enough, our chief digger, Peta Jarmey, continued round the corner on a desolate plot. She reckoned it would be a brilliant place to have a dry bed, taking into account climate change and the fact we can now expect weeks of no rain in the summer. This is going to be so lovely next year,” said Marian Temple.


Three significant updates for users of Wanstead Park


The Epping Forest Consultative Committee addressed three issues for Wanstead Park last month.

“Firstly, the major work on the park’s lakes planned for 2024 has been reduced in scale following a recent flood risk assessment. Instead, a study into the relationship between the Ornamental Water and the River Roding was announced. Secondly, a new and expanded cycling policy will be introduced. Finally, the meeting proposed the adoption of a Conservation Management Plan for the historic Grotto,” said a spokesperson.


Swan watchers needed to help protect flock on Wanstead Flats


A network of volunteers who help protect the local swan population are seeking more ‘swan watchers’ to cover Alexander Lake and Jubilee Pond on Wanstead Flats.

“We were alerted indirectly to an injured cygnet on Alexander Lake (now in a sanctuary) and have agreed we need to increase our numbers (training provided). Our swans are important, and as we hear more about animals being abused in the area we need to up our game… If you have any concerns about swans, please call,” said Tracey Adebowale-Jones.

Call 07970 404 866


Virtual Christmas market: local creatives set up shop on Facebook


Artists and makers from Wanstead, South Woodford and surrounding areas have set up a virtual Christmas market on Facebook.

“Being a small business owner, around this time of the year I would normally be selling at markets and craft fairs, but due to the ongoing situation, I have not been able to do so. My family and I had the idea for a Facebook group, and we have been overwhelmed with the support shown,” said Hayley Bull, founder of Deck the Halls Virtual Christmas Market.



Local filmmaker’s new comedy about hobby horsing


Local filmmaker Marc Coleman has created a new comedy about a middle-aged man seeking redemption through the Finnish adolescent sport of hobby horsing.

“It is essentially dressage and show jumping, but with toy horses. It’s a real sport in Finland!” said Marc, whose new short film is a proof of concept for a feature film that has already been written, but requires funding. The film was shot at Redbridge Drama Centre, Wanstead Youth Centre and in Roding Valley Park.



Community appeal for rough sleepers to be repeated in December


A drive-through collection for clothing and toiletries in aid of rough sleepers took place at Wanstead Cricket Club last month.

“The response was incredible, and The Corner House Project couldn’t be happier! In addition to an overwhelming response for the donation of clothing, toiletries and sleeping bags, we also received some generous cash donations, which we will use to buy further supplies,” said Julie Harvey.

Another collection will take place at the Overton Drive car park on 5 and 6 December.

Call 07943 717 963


Let them eat Christmas cake: volunteer bakers wanted


Wanstead resident and keen amateur baker Paul Canal has relaunched his annual Christmas cake baking appeal in aid of Haven House Children’s Hospice, but with a difference.

“This year, I am seeking to match local volunteer cake bakers with eager Christmas cake buyers, with all proceeds going to Haven House. Several eager bakers and buyers have already signed up, with over 50 cakes pledged. If you would like to bake a cake – or buy one – please get in touch,” said Paul.



Redbridge Local Lottery launch

Screenshot 2020-11-04 at 11.23.47

The PTA at Our Lady of Lourdes in Wanstead will be one of the beneficiaries of a new lottery launching in the borough on 19 December (tickets to go on sale from 10 November).

Redbridge Local Lottery is a Redbridge Council initiative, with a £25,000 weekly jackpot. “From every £1 ticket, 60p will go to local good causes in the Redbridge area to improve our community,” said a spokesperson.