May 2024


Wanstead Wildlife Weekend itinerary

Screenshot 2024-05-28 at 13.00.34

A variety of free nature-themed events will take place in Wanstead Park and on Wanstead Flats this month for the annual Wanstead Wildlife Weekend. 

Find out more from the information tent near the Tea Hut in Wanstead Park.

Saturday 22 June

Butterfly Trail for children. Collect a questionnaire from the Info Tent and win a goody bag.

Reptiles Etc: Live Display of British wildlife near the Info Tent. From 12pm.

6am: Moth Trap Reveal 6am at the Temple, Wanstead Park. Led by Tim Harris.

10am: Bees Workshop: learn how to use a quadrat to identify bees and other creatures. Led by Tony Madgwick

12pm: Lichen Walk: Meet at the Info Tent. Learn about these fascinating life forms using hand lenses. Led by Bob Vaughan.

2pm: Flight of the Bumble Bee Family Walk: Meet at the Info Tent. Led by ScarlettWeston

2pm: Spider Hunt & Invertebrates Safari on Wanstead Flats: Meet at Centre Road Car Park, Led by David Carr.


Sunday 23 June

Butterfly Trail for children. Collect a questionnaire from the Info Tent and win a goody bag.

Reptiles Etc: Live Display of British wildlife near the Info Tent. From 12pm.

10am: From Bugs to Plant Galls: Invertebrate walk for all. Meet at the info Tent. Led by James Heal .

10am: Pond Dip at the Shoulder of Mutton Pond, for age 4 upwards. All children must be accompanied. Wear wellies! Led by Louis and Gosia.

12pm-4pm Family Fun in the Woodland Play Area:

12pm Bring a picnic!

1pm:Minibeast Hunt led by Moira Duhig. Followed by art activities.

2pm: Workshops :

Share Your Vision for Wanstead Park Led by Friends of Wanstead Parklands.

Encouraging Wildlife in your Garden. Led by Aldersbrook Horticultural Society.

3pm: Insect Stories for Under-5s. Led by Jackie Withnall.

For further information contact


Redbridge Volunteering Fair 2024


An annual volunteering fair will take place at Redbridge Town Hall on 6 June.

More than 40 different organisations will be taking part, promoting a range of volunteering opportunities.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to explore voluntary roles in your local area. If you’re looking for something weekly, monthly or on a casual basis, come along to chat to our friendly team and find out more about the opportunities in Redbridge,” said a spokesperson for Community Action Redbridge.

The event will take place from 11am to 2pm at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford, IG1 1DD.

For more information, contact Community Action Redbridge.


Decision delayed again: planning application for Evergreen Field

Acr3016372082176-2758320How the development would look from the High Street

A decision on the planning application to build a block of flats on Evergreen Field (adjacent to Christ Church Green) has been delayed again.

“The application is currently being considered by council officers and it is scheduled to be referred to the council’s Planning Committee for a decision on 5 June,” said a Redbridge Council spokesperson.

The application – which was first submitted in July 2023 – includes plans for a children’s nursery, 24 flats and a new public open space.



Council sign language service


Redbridge Council has launched a sign language service to help deaf people contact the local authority more easily.

“Using a video British Sign Language service, an interpreter will translate the conversation between council call centre staff and the caller. Local people are welcome to use this service if they need to speak about any council services, from housing to bin collections and council tax,” said a spokesperson.



Wanstead accountants celebrate 50th anniversary at Parliament

THPAdrian2024-ClaudineHartzelPhotography-2Adrian Hart speaking at the anniversary event

Local accountancy firm THP has marked 50 years in business with a special celebration in the Members’ Dining Room at the House of Commons.

THP was founded by Adrian Hart in 1974 as a one-person practice and went on to merge with over a dozen other accountancy firms, now with branches in Wanstead, Sutton, Chelmsford and Saffron Walden.

“We continue to build our team and to expand our service offerings, and we are planning to grow further in the coming years,” said Adrian, now chairman of the company.



Leyton and Wanstead MP John Cryer to stand down at the general election


Leyton and Wanstead MP John Cryer has announced he will stand down at the general election on 4 July.

“It has been an immense privilege to have served as your MP for the past 14 years. As you may know, I have two young children and I feel I should try to spend more time with them,” explained John Cryer, who has held the Leyton and Wanstead constituency for Labour since 2010.

Read the full statement here.


Redbridge Council is cracking down on Blue Badge cheats

Disabled blue badge holder parking sign for driver

Prosecutions against people misusing Blue Badges locally has led to a warning from Redbridge Council that Blue Badge cheats won’t be tolerated in the borough.

The crackdown on blue badge fraud saw 42 prosecutions last year, alongside hundreds of Blue Badge checks to clamp down on the illegal use of the permits.

“For genuine Blue Badge holders, the permit can be a lifeline to the community, providing those with mobility issues with special parking provision to access local amenities. Anyone using a Blue Badge fraudulently is taking away a valuable parking space from those in genuine need of it, making it harder for people with mobility issues to go about their daily business,” said a council spokesperson.

Successful prosecutions brought to court by the council have included a driver given one of the largest fines of last year after being caught by Council Parking Enforcement Officers using a Blue Badge that had been reported lost several months previously. The badge was handed over to the officers at the scene of the crime in Ilford, and the driver ended up with fines totalling £1,038.

Blue badges should only be displayed if the blue badge holder is travelling in the vehicle as a driver or passenger, or if someone is collecting the blue badge holder or dropping them off and needs to park at the place where the blue badge holder is being collected or dropped.

To report suspected blue badge fraud, call 0800 633 5267 or email

For more information on the blue badge scheme in Redbridge, go to



Unbroken spirit


When Wanstead resident Paul Canal found himself as runner-up in a street fight with a Range Rover, his spirits – unlike his leg – were not broken, thanks to the kindness of locals

Imagine this: no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, right? But even less expected is being rugby-tackled by a Range Rover right outside the Wanstead Co-op on a dreary December night. That was my unexpected twist on 8 December. The shock soon gave way to a world of pain as I found myself doing an impromptu somersault down Grove Park, my attempts at creative swearing hardly doing justice to the situation. Picture an 18-stone human pinball versus a 2.5-tonne metal giant from Solihull.

As I hit the deck, my brain went into overdrive, juggling tasks like a circus act – trying to break my fall, checking for any spinal injury issues, and somehow keeping a death grip on my groceries. As I skidded to a stop, dreams of playing for the Eton Manor 1st XV were put on hold and I realised I was in a bit of a pickle, stranded like a beached whale in the middle of the road.

But then, my personal cavalry arrived in the form of local heroes Carrie Hards and Christine Twomey, along with a few other Wanstead warriors.

Quick checks ensured my brain was still in the game (insert obligatory “not much to damage” joke here) and that I wasn’t about to repaint the road red. The diagnosis? A fashion crisis in the form of a ruffled jacket and possibly a busted leg.

Thanks to a traffic snafu on the A406, my new chill-out spot became the tarmac, which, spoiler alert, is surprisingly unwelcoming. Despite some locals’ desperate pleas for me to relocate before their curry went cold, the Wanstead Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) stood guard like modern-day knights, ensuring I wasn’t moved until help arrived. Their dedication warmed me more than the space-age blanket they wrapped me in.

The night’s silver lining? A ride in a police van (because who needs ambulances?) got me VIP treatment at the hospital – apparently, arriving in handcuff-style is the fast pass there. The King George squad were rock stars, confirming my leg’s new status as ‘officially broken’ but keeping the spirits high and the pain low.

Five months on, I’m back on both feet with a heart full of gratitude for every act of kindness – from those first on the scene to the driver, who turned out to be a decent guy. A huge shoutout to resident angels Carrie and Christine, to the many passers-by who stopped and helped, the Wanstead SNT, heroes without capes, and the Eton Manor crew who helped me move house as I looked on immobile. 

Above all, thanks to my wife, Karen, the true hero of this saga. If you see her, treat her to an iced coffee; she’s earned it.

Paul Canal is a Wanstead resident and Conservative councillor for Bridge ward. 


Park life

P3218104©Diane Dalli

In the 11th of a series of articles featuring the images of local photographers who document the wildlife of Wanstead Park and the surrounding area, Diane Dalli presents her shot of a Skylark on Wanstead Flats

I enjoy roaming Wanstead Flats, looking for birds to photograph at different times of the year. During the wet and windy conditions in April, there seemed to be a scarcity of birds, but when I visited recently, there was a lot more activity with many birds looking their best in their breeding plumage and singing loudly to attract a mate. Most noticeable were the Skylarks with their beautiful warbling song.

Skylarks can be seen hopping in the meadow grass, sometimes perching on a log to sing, and at other times rising up into the sky. They sing loudly as they go higher and higher until they are just a dot in the distance, hover for a while and then plummet back to earth again. It is thought that singing at a great height helps to spread the sound further to attract any local female Skylarks.

Wanstead Flats is the nearest Skylark breeding site to central London, and as Skylark numbers have been declining in recent times, a plan to help them survive in this location was put in place by cordoning off two areas during the breeding season. Skylarks are ground nesters, so their nests are very prone to disturbance by footfall, dogs off the lead and predation by foxes and rats. The plan to protect them seems to have paid off, with a small yearly increase in their numbers (at least four birds fledged the nest last year).

To photograph them, it is best to locate the source of the singing, and once a bird is spotted on the ground, follow it as it hops about. If you are lucky, it will perch on a log or post and present a clear view. However, to get a picture of one as it soars into the sky is challenging to say the least! Lying flat on my back in the grass seemed to be the best position, ignoring any curious glances from passers-by!  

Although some walkers have expressed their resentment at the temporary barriers, most people view it as a very small price to pay for more views and sounds of these beautiful, iconic birds.

To view more of Diane’s wildlife photos, visit


Time for flexitime


Jo Cullen from local solicitors Edwards Duthie Shamash takes a look at the improvements to employee rights following last month’s changes to the flexible working request regime

Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, for example, having flexible start and finish times, or working from home. All employees have the legal right to request flexible working. On 6 April 2024, changes to the new flexible working request regime came into force. The headline changes include:

  • An employee can request flexible working from their first day of employment; there is no qualification period.
  • When making a request, an employee no longer has to explain what effect, if any, they think their requested change will have on their employer and how any such effect might be dealt with. 
  • An employee is entitled to make two requests in any 12-month period. 
  • An employer will not be permitted to refuse a request unless the employee has been consulted. 
  • The time for an employer to make a decision is reduced from three to two months.

The new rules are very much to the benefit of the employee, giving them the ability to request flexibility from their first day of employment. There has been much debate about this Day One right and the impact the change may have on employers. However, flexible working is increasingly a topic for discussion during the recruitment process, and the impact may not be as great as initially expected with prospective employees looking to agree varied terms before starting employment.  

Whilst an employee has the right to request flexible working, an employer does not have to agree to the request if it is not feasible and the rejection reasoning falls within one of the business reasons that continue to apply as set out in the legislation.  

Employers will have to deal promptly with requests within the new set time limits, although there is still scope to extend this time by agreement. Any request must be fully considered and discussed. Where a request is not to be agreed, a full consultation must take place and all steps taken clearly documented, including details around variations to the proposed changes or alternative roles to reduce the risk of an appeal and, ultimately, a claim being issued.  

Employers will need to be ready to implement these changes and ensure they are familiar with the new rules and the updated Acas statutory code of practice on requests for flexible working.

Edwards Duthie Shamash is located at 149 High Street, Wanstead, E11 2RL. For more information, call 020 8514 9000 or visit


Working Environment


Councillor Jo Blackman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability, shares her journey of reconnecting with nature through local volunteer conservation work

The state of the world, degradation of the environment and climate doom can leave us feeling anxious and frustrated. Our busy lives and over-exposure to the digital world can also take its toll on our stress levels and mental health. But it is well documented that connecting to the environment can decrease stress and improve your mental health. Being in nature brings benefits, as does the physical exercise of the activity we undertake there. 

Whilst I spend a lot of time working on environmental policy as cabinet member for the environment on Redbridge Council, and through my work with environmental charities, too little of my time is spent actually in the environment. So, I recently dedicated two days to help two charities with local conservation work. 

I spent a day in waders with the river charity Thames21, an organisation helping to bring stakeholders together to look after our rivers. We helped enhance the habitat in the River Roding adjacent to Wanstead Park by installing deflectors, which are basically logs secured to the riverbed, providing a home for wildlife and slowing the flow of the river. I spent another day on dry land helping the Epping Forest Heritage Trust (where I am a trustee) conserve the acid grasslands – which also provide a vital habitat for nature – by removing saplings and clearing bramble. 

On both days we were joined by volunteers, some local and some from further afield, a mix of ages, backgrounds and professions. All shared the common desire to get out from behind their desks and do something to help the environment. Very few of us had any previous conservation experience and both charities provided all the equipment and advice needed. Whilst the work would have been very slow going individually, as a group, we made good progress. After several hours, we were able to look proudly at the contribution we had made to conserving these important spaces. It gave me fresh insights into the challenges facing nature in our urban environment – including climate change, litter, invasive species and pollution. And it renewed my resolve to do all I can in my work as a councillor, as well as with charities, to preserve and enhance our environment.

Many companies allow staff to spend one or two days a year volunteering, though many people don’t take advantage of this. There are also opportunities to volunteer with Vision in the Roding Valley and other Redbridge parks as part of their conservation work. And for those who can’t devote a whole day, there are plenty of opportunities locally to spend an hour or two helping out – with our amazing community gardeners or litter pickers.

Jo Blackman is Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward.

For more information on conservation volunteering, follow the links below:

Epping Forest Heritage Trust


Vision RCL

Litter picking sessions also take place in Wanstead on the third Saturday of each month. For more information, email