January 2022


Funding to help supercharge Redbridge’s electric vehicle network

IMG_6763Electric vehicle charge point on Halstead Road

Redbridge Council has secured £557,610 from the Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles to install 310 electric vehicle charge points across the borough.

Redbridge currently provides 59 publicly available charge points, with the new lamp post sites to be in place by March 2023. Feedback from residents will determine the locations.

“The installation of these charge points will provide easy access to people, where off-street parking is not an option for them,” said Councillor Jo Blackman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Civic Pride.


Social Knitworks community event at Wanstead Methodist Church

knit-1A Social Knitworks meeting in The Cuckfield

Wanstead-based knitting group Social Knitworks will have a stall in the porch of Wanstead Methodist Church, Hermon Hill, on Sunday 23 January.

As well as displaying and selling their craft items (many of which will be discounted in their January sale), there will also be a range of free cakes available to encourage people to come along and meet with others from the community.

The event, which will take place from 11.30am to 1pm, is open to all.

“There is no obligation to attend the service (which starts at 10.30am), but all visitors are, of course, welcome to the service as well. Hopefully this will be the first of a monthly series of events at the church,” said Liz Hickson, who set up Social Knitworks in December 2018.

“We knit and crochet for a variety of local charities and projects. When we make a sale, 100% of the purchase price is donated to a local cause. Going forwards, we’re hoping to work with a number of local partners for the benefit of the community overall and we’re really excited to be working with Wanstead Methodist Church as they plan their community-focussed events.”


A lot to lose

Screenshot 2021-12-20 at 12.04.16

In the seventh of a series of articles by plot holders at the Redbridge Lane West allotments – which are under threat from the adjacent gas works – Shirley Grey-Allen explains her Caribbean cultivation influences

We are Shirley and Jennifer of Plot 78 (since 1 July 2008). Many will also know Dorothy, our mother, who is often with us. Dorothy is of the Windrush generation from Jamaica. A hard-working, ambitious woman who came to Britain in 1955 and worked as a nurse for the NHS.

Dorothy was the reason we originally obtained an allotment as a project to provide a space for her and her friends to enjoy the outdoors in their senior years, to socialise and cultivate in an area reminiscent of the West Indies, where they had their own land and people planted produce (although we’ve not yet been successful in growing avocados, mangos, pineapples or bananas).

As Caribbeans, we have brought diversity to the site and have thoroughly enjoyed working our plot and doing it our way. The experience has been filled with both highs and lows, with one of our senior citizens, Ms Esta, an experienced gardener, passing away.

Our plot had not been cultivated before so required a lot of back-breaking work. It was used as a dumping ground and filled with rubble and rubbish, much of which we used to create interesting feature areas, such as a hardcore rock garden and a gradient of steps. We have worked very hard to achieve the end result we now have. We also love to recycle and you can make a feature of almost any old item. All we have learned has been as a result of mistakes, reflection and correction.

We have been fortunate and produced much over the years, which we have shared within our community, as is the West Indies’ custom. Also, during lockdown, the freedom and tranquillity the area provided was wonderful. We have thoroughly enjoyed the company of our neighbours Geoff, Helen and Debbie. And over the years, our children and grandchildren have enjoyed visiting, with an appreciation of the hard work and energy required.

The saying ‘time waits for no man’ is very fitting for an allotment, where one hour can effortlessly convert into three. At the onset, we envisaged sitting for tea, cakes and relaxation. Well, nothing could be further from reality because there is always so much to do. The labour and finance invested would be difficult to calculate, and the plot is very important to us. We look forward to continuing to be able to work our plot for many more years and sincerely hope that Cadent (the gas company) will find an alternative way to carry out their upgrade work.

We are proud to witness the progress of the conservation and wildlife sanctuary and the marvellous Sprout There! project for adults with learning disabilities. Redbridge Lane West allotments are without doubt a local treasure. The contribution to the borough cannot be underestimated.

To view the petition to save the Redbridge Lane West allotments, visit wnstd.com/rlw


Return to Rhyme

Redbridge-Rhymesters-CROPPEDA pre-COVID meeting of the Redbridge Rhymesters

Over-50s poetry group the Redbridge Rhymesters was formed more than 13 years ago. As they prepare for their first post-COVID meet-up, founder Alexandra Wilde is keen for new writers to join the poetic flow

It’s been over two years since the Redbridge Rhymesters last met for a creative poetry session, writing poems in all their forms – sonnets, blank verse, narrative poems and odd odes – and it has been a difficult time for those creative minds among us who love to share ideas and take inspiration from each other.

The Redbridge Rhymesters first got together over 13 years ago; it all began when Janet West, from Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering, found a poem I had written about my grandmother and that I had recorded for Age UK’s website. Janet got in touch with me and asked permission to reproduce it in the newsletter; of course, I was delighted to agree!

With interest in creative writing coming more and more to the fore, I was then asked if I would lead a poetry event at the Allan Burgess Centre in Wanstead. It went so well, it was decided to make it a regular event, and since then we have enjoyed quarterly meetings, writing and sharing ideas, and performing our work. People can also bring in a favourite poem to read on the day, or else I am always happy to perform it for them; everyone is encouraged to participate, although if they prefer, they can also just sit back and enjoy the session. After each meeting, we produce a pamphlet containing all the new poems written by the Redbridge Rhymesters and each participant is sent a copy; it makes a happy reminder of the day.

Such great oaks from little acorns grow, as they say, and the only thing that could interrupt our poetic flow was the arrival of the Covid-19 virus, but now, at long last, we can look forward to a new beginning; the Redbridge Rhymesters are ready for a renaissance. So many of our stalwart members are keen to return, and I would love to encourage new people to join us as well. The Allan Burgess Centre provides many other activities for people over 50, and everyone is assured of a warm welcome.

The next meeting has been arranged for Tuesday 18 January, and for this first session of the New Year, we will be joined by Robert Gillman, an accomplished singer-songwriter, and winner of last year’s Havering Libraries’ Poetry Competition; he will be talking about getting inspiration for creative writing, in all its guises.

We usually choose a topic for each meeting, but for this first get-together after such a long time, ‘free choice’ will be the order of the day!

I look forward so much to seeing you then, and hope it will signal a great start to more imaginative, creative poetry.

The Redbridge Rhymesters will meet at the Allan Burgess Centre on 18 January from 10.30 am to 12 noon. The Allan Burgess Centre is located at 2 Grove Park, Wanstead, E11 2DL. For more information, call 020 8989 6338


Stump up for biodiversity

Grow Zones, wetlands and more tree planting are amongst the recommendations of Redbridge Council’s Nature and the Environment Task & Finish Group. Councillor Paul Donovan (Wanstead Village, Labour) reports. Photo of new stag beetle stumpery on George Green by Geoff Wilkinson

The recommendations of Redbridge Council’s Nature and the Environment Task and Finish Group are among 14 coming out of the report, which seeks to extend biodiversity in the borough.

Other recommendations include developing wildlife corridors, phasing out pesticide use and promoting allotments and community gardens.

The report builds on work already underway as part of the council’s response to the climate and biodiversity crises as set out in the Climate Change Action Plan and Green Urban Landscape Policy. Together, they should bring a cleaner, greener Redbridge.

Grow Zones began in Wanstead. We have seen successful areas developed on George Green and Christchurch Green as well as at the Roding Valley Park, Elmcroft Avenue entrance.

There have been encouraging biodiversity gains at all of these sites, which helped in the effort to promote the idea across the borough.

We also need to look at how to encourage measures to help biodiversity on private land, the council’s recent fruit tree giveaway was one such initiative.

It was a concern raised by community groups giving testimony to the Task and Finish Group that too much of the borough is going under concrete. This has been happening incrementally, with front and back gardens getting concreted over for a variety of reasons. The report calls for a review of present processes, with possible stipulations to be considered on the amount of an area that remains in a natural state.

The report highlights the potential for wetland developments that can help deal with flood threats as well as extend biodiversity. And as Walthamstow Wetlands and others across the country show, they are a great visitor attraction.

A review of the Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation with a view to extending their coverage is another integral element of the report.

The whole approach has to be holistic, taking in every part of life. So, when developers build new housing stock, there must be a net biodiversity gain (this is being mandated in the Environment Act recently adopted by parliament).

All parts of the environmental policy need to interact, from planting more trees and developing wetlands to facilitating more active travel and extending the electricity vehicle charging network.

All of these things need to work in unison if the dual threats of biodiversity and climate disaster are to be tackled. Important work is already underway and I hope this report will contribute to making our borough a greener place to live to the benefit of nature and people.

For more information on Redbridge Council’s Nature and the Environment Task and Finish Group’s report, visit wnstd.com/naturereport


Clear vision

_Christchurch-Green,-Wanstead---DSC_2296Christchurch Green is managed by Vision RCL. © Geoff Wilkinson

Vision RCL is a charity that works in partnership with Redbridge Council to deliver leisure and cultural services. Here, chief executive Iain Varah offers some insight into the workings of the organisation

Vision RCL is an independent registered charity and a company limited by guarantee, overseen by a board of voluntary unpaid director trustees made up of community representatives and two local councillors.

As a charity, any financial surpluses Vision makes are reinvested to improve the quality of facilities and services and to deliver our charitable objectives. Vision aims to increase participation, accessibility and inclusivity across all of its services, as well as developing partnerships and sharing best practice.

The charity was established in 2007 and Redbridge Council decided to transfer a number of core sport and leisure facilities to the trust at that time. This was followed in 2008 by the transfer of the three remaining sport and leisure facilities, including Wanstead Leisure Centre. In May 2011, the council transferred a wider range of services into the trust, including parks and open spaces, nature conservation, libraries, arts and events, museum, heritage, hall lettings and grounds maintenance services.

Vision again expanded significantly in 2016 to incorporate Redbridge Music Service and Redbridge Drama Centre, the latter based in South Woodford. Wanstead and Loxford Youth Centres were also transferred in the same year. Vision also took on the operation of the dual-use school/community pool and sports facilities at Loxford School of Science and Technology, and a further leisure centre development at Mayfield School opened in 2018. In September 2019, Vision took over management of the Kenneth More Theatre.

Vision, as an independent charity, has access to a range of significant external funding that public bodies cannot access. On an annual basis, this figure is in excess of £800,000, but will be significantly increased with an Arts Council England grant of £1m from the Creative People and Places fund to be spent across Redbridge in partnership with a number of Redbridge-based charitable and voluntary organisations over the next three years. Vision now has over 750 employees and a turnover of over £20m, and is one of the largest and most diverse leisure and culture trusts in the country.

The formal relationship between Redbridge Council and Vision is defined by a Funding and Management Agreement in place until March 2026, as well as related leases, licences and other supporting agreements. As the council is under increasing financial pressure due to the reduction in government funding, the need to generate income to protect jobs, services and facilities has become more acute. The management fee from Redbridge Council has reduced significantly over time, and Vision has to generate income to fill the ever-increasing hole in finance between the management fee and running costs.

For more information on the work of Vision RCL, visit visionrcl.org.uk


Trust in Woodford

hall-1Meeting venue: Woodford Memorial Hall

Clive Boon is one of seven committee members for the Woodford and District Centre of the National Trust. That committee needs more help if the 54-year-old centre is to continue its programme of talks and trips

Some years ago, an article appeared in the South Woodford Village Gazette entitled Coasting Along Nicely (visit wnstd.com/swvg18). That article gave some insight into the history of the Woodford and District Centre of the National Trust and how it was still flourishing after 50 years, albeit with membership not as great as in 1985 (which was our peak year with 1,010 members).

The genesis of our centre was a coffee morning held on 7 December 1967 at 30 Snakes Lane, when it was decided membership of the proposed centre would cost five shillings. The first meeting took place on 12 February 1968 in the Hawkey Hall with a speaker from central office. In the course of our 50-year history, the centre has been served by just three secretaries, and in that time has contributed over £200,000 to various National Trust projects.

Despite the highs of our membership in the eighties, prior to COVID, we would still rejoice in several hundred members and visitors to our monthly talks and trips. Now, after the first appalling pandemic in most of our lifetimes, where we have all suffered illnesses and lockdowns, we are trying to regroup. In 2020 and 2021, we did our best to stay in touch with members by hosting three or four Zoom talks for those who were able to take part online.

The re-opening of our centre last September with a presentation about the National Gardens Scheme in Essex (on a gloriously sunny day) was a great day for us all, with a packed audience at All Saints’ Church hall. That was followed by October’s meeting at Woodford Memorial Hall with a talk about the historic Waltham Abbey Church. It felt like a revival of community spirit!

The trips we organise are very popular as well, evident from the full coaches that depart. Recent destinations include the National Army Museum (fantastic) and Polesden Lacey, an Edwardian house in Surrey. And excursions to St Paul’s Cathedral and the Secret Gardens of the City are planned for 2022.

Our meetings, and indeed all the trips, are supported by a small committee. With some lost due to natural ‘movement’ and several past retirement age, that committee has dwindled in size, and now consists of only seven people: chairman, honorary secretary, treasurer, membership secretary, London visits coordinator, publicity member and minutes secretary. At our last committee meeting, it was reluctantly stated that unless we get new support, then the awful conclusion would be our centre would have to close. That will be decided at our AGM on 6 April. So please, if this interests you, do join us. We only ask for a few more to join our committee; the work is not onerous, it is interesting and enjoyable! We really do need you. Our centre is a marvellous community base. It must not close!

For more information on the Woodford and District Centre of the National Trust, call 07774 164 407


New series of online talks about the history of Wanstead Park

Glass-Magic-Lantern-Slide-THE-AVENUE-BUSH-WOOD-LEYTONSTONE-C1910The Avenue, Bush Wood (circa 1910)

A monthly series of free online talks about the history of Wanstead Park will launch in January 2022.

“Some of you may remember I ran a popular two-year series of articles in the Wanstead Village Directory about the owners of Wanstead Park. These talks – entitled Wanstead Park in Context – will be much wider ranging. As well as personalities, I’ll be exploring political, social and cultural themes, and the evolution of this unique landscape,” said Richard Arnopp, whose first event takes place on 27 January.

To register for the events, click here.

To watch recordings of the presentations on YouTube, click here.


Future for Whipps


In the 10th of a series of articles looking at the redevelopment of Whipps Cross Hospital, Charlotte Monro explains her concerns about tower blocks overshadowing the new building

Planning permission for the Whipps redevelopment was approved by Waltham Forest Council on 24 November. It now goes back to the GLA for final approval. We urgently need the new hospital, but not one that will be on black alert with ambulances queuing as now. With the current design, any increase to 600 beds could only be achieved by pushing out essential facilities, like staff training and team office bases.

The major concern for me and many others is the land reserved for the hospital’s present and future needs is far too little, less than one-third of the site. In my 30 years working at Whipps, I have seen almost every green space disappear under buildings crammed in to meet growing demands. The plans approved (outline planning approval) include a residential tower block overshadowing and overlooking the east side of the hospital, with only a narrow internal roadway distance between them. Earlier plans had allocated this land to the hospital. What will this do for privacy for patients and sunlight?

Councillors from across the boroughs served by Whipps are now meeting in a joint health scrutiny committee set up to ensure the redevelopment of a new Whipps Cross Hospital meets their residents’ needs. Last month’s focus was on end of life and palliative care. “The way the physical environment feels – peace, space, privacy – is easier to achieve in designed spaces.” So advised Professor Heather Richardson, invited as an expert witness. Give the Margaret Centre this benefit, in the new hospital, said an Action for Whipps member, describing how highly the community values its end of life care, found in responses to our campaign out on the streets.

Whipps Cross clinical leads recognise the Margaret Centre as a hub that brings together specialist palliative care teams from across the community, hospital and centre, as we heard in a progress report on the review of palliative care.

Two Redbridge councillors on the committee spoke movingly of their own contrasting experiences between care in the Margaret Centre and in the community or a busy general ward: “worlds apart”. But when one asked the Barts Health Trust representative if he could assure the committee there would be an option to provide the Margaret Centre within the new Whipps development, he could not.

The scrutiny committee unanimously recommended an option for a discrete inpatient end of life care facility in the new hospital must be in the NEL CCG-led plans due in April. Formal public consultation on the Whipps redevelopment is a legal requirement, said councillors, and agreed a full discussion on this was a matter of urgency.

To join the campaign or share views, email whipps.cross.campaign@gmail.com


Items from the great palace of Wanstead House auctioned

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Two lots from the great Palladian palace of Wanstead House went up for auction last month.

“Italian auction house Cambi auctioned an important picture from the Wanstead House collection. Painted in oil on canvas, Portrait of the Duchess of Marlborough in the character of Minerva had a pre-sale estimate of €10,000 to €15,000. And Bonhams had four artificial stone roundels up for sale, with an estimate of £4,000 £6,000,” said Richard Arnopp.

The contents of Wanstead House were sold in 1822 prior to its demolition.


The law is… daft


Derek Inkpin from local solicitors Wiseman Lee takes the law seriously, but even he knows sometimes the law can be an ass… especially if you need to carry a plank along a pavement

We are surrounded by laws and regulations every day of our lives, the dos and don’ts which regulate society and all of us in it. The change in Coronavirus regulations in 2020 and 2021 is a good example of how we are told to behave for the benefit of all of us, but which causes many of us to question these impositions.

However, against this serious background, perhaps something a little light-hearted to start the New Year. The following bizarre laws still exist:

  • You must carry a bale of hay in your car at all times.
  • Your cow may not be driven down the highway between 10am and 7pm without prior approval of the Commissioner of Police.
  • It is unlawful to handle a salmon in suspicious circumstances.
  • You commit an offence if you are drunk in a pub, and it is an offence for a publican to sell alcohol to a person who is drunk.
  • You must not allow your pet to mate with an animal of the Royal Household.
  • In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and wants to use your loo, you must let them enter.
  • It is an offence in the City of London for a cab to carry a rabid dog or corpse.
  • Placing a postage stamp with the Queen’s head upside down is considered to be an act of treason.
  • No person in business may import into England potatoes which he knows or suspects have come from Poland.
  • By law, it is legal for a pregnant woman to relieve herself anywhere she wishes, even in a policeman’s hat.
  • Since 1939, it has been against the law to carry a plank along a pavement.
  • It is legal for a male to urinate in public provided it is on the rear wheel of his vehicle and his right hand is on the vehicle.
  • You must not shake or beat your rug or carpet before 8am.
  • Relevant to Covid-19, it is illegal to get public transport if you knowingly have the plague. Also, if you know you have the plague, you may not flag down a taxi.
  • Is the law an ass? You decide. A happy, and hopefully brighter, New Year to you and yours.

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