Highams Park Forum
Final minutes & Full archive of all minutes
Following the planned closure of the Forum at the end of 2019 this website is now mothballed. It will not be updated further but remains as an interesting archive and can be browsed as normal. All Forum functions have transferred to the Highams Park Planning Group. Click here for details
An archive of all the minutes of Forum meetings, from the first to the last, can be accessed by clicking this link:
HP Forum Minutes Archive
HIGHAMS PARK FORUM
1) Welcome & Introductions
Oliver Shykles chaired the meeting and Mike Payne took the minutes.
2) Matters arising from minutes of meeting 21st October 2019
Section 4 of the minutes ("Recycling: Bags observed being moved from Green to Black bins") prompted some further discussion. It was acknowledged that there was much confusion as to what should (and should not) go in the recycling wheelie bin and attendees felt it would be a good time for the council to issue updates to all residents since much of the (often conflicting) "received wisdom" of the years passed is now out-of-date.
Cllr Doré volunteered to send members (via MP) a copy of the latest information from the council website.
Cllr Fitzgerald noted that early morning checks of bins are now taking place (preceding the collection) to check the contents are appropriate. Warnings and potentially fines are being issued. Given this increased focus, attendees felt this would be a good time to send a new leaflet to all households with the very latest recycling "rules".
3) Action List: Review of outstanding items
The Action List was reviewed and updated and a revised copy will be distributed separately from these minutes. All actions are now either complete or well in hand.
4) Planning & Development
[To the reader: We are advised that comments on planning applications sent to the planning department from individual residents carry more weight than a group letter from an organisation. If you would like to see the details of any planning application, including plans and any decision documents, you need to visit the council's website here: http://planning.walthamforest.gov.uk/application-search and enter the relevant application id. that is shown below. For appeals, the link is: https://www.gov.uk/appeal-planning-inspectorate]
a) Application id: 183379: Addition of 3 floors to 472-478 Larkshall Road to create 20 flats.
Application dated Oct 2018. This is the block from Inside Job to Breeze Restaurant.
Status: Still no decision (The original target for a decision was 17th January 2019)
At previous meetings, attendees were apprehensive of the uncharacteristically long time being taken in assessing this application. Some hypothesised that council officers may be working on encouraging a grander scheme involving adjacent sites. Attendees noted that, possibly coincidentally, application 191304 (see "b" below) has been submitted for an adjacent location.
b) Application id: 191304: 'James Yard', 480 Larkshall Road. Demolition of existing building next to HP Station Chingford bound platform & build of two 5 story blocks of flats.
Status: No decision as yet ("target determination date" (set by planning officers) is still 4th October 2019).
There are a large number of documents that form the application. If you wish to read them and are struggling with the official site, the Forum has downloaded the documents and they can be viewed easily by clicking this link:
Both GR and the HPPG have independently written in with objections to this application.
5) Brief Updates:
a) HP Plan update
MP (on behalf of Gordon Turpin, chair of the Highams Park Planning Group) gave a brief update on behalf of GT.
The target date for the referendum on the Highams Park Plan is still 5th March, 2020. This process will be exactly the same as a traditional political election with voting cards and polling stations. All eligible residents in the Plan area will be entitled to vote.
The Planning Group is aware that there may be confusion in the public mind between The Highams Park Plan and the council's "Local Plan" (for the whole of Waltham Forest) which is also progressing through consultation. The HPPG recognise the need for extensive publicity about the Plan referendum to avoid any scope for confusion.
b) Project to install a pavement plaque for The International Reference Meridian (The IRM)
MP & IT, encouraged by the Forum and working with the Heritage Group of the HPPG, were successful earlier in the year in a bid for "Make It Local" funding for the installation of a bronze pavement plaque to mark "The International Reference Meridian" which runs through Highams Park. This is the Prime Meridian for the world (longitude zero) which replaced the Greenwich Meridian as the global standard in 1984. GPS receivers (e.g. in mobile phones) show zero longitude at this point.
This project is now complete. The 15 inch square bronze plaque (deigned by the team) has been manufactured and was installed on 28th October 2019 and the formal unveiling by The Mayor took place 29th October 2019.
The location of the plaque is outside "Childcare" near the corner of Hale End Road and Beech Hall Road.
A large and successful launch event took place on Friday 18th October (open to all residents) in All Saint's Church Hall. The event comprised some displays and a light-hearted presentation to explain the significance of the IRM, its position, and why the Greenwich Meridian is in the "wrong" place. It is hoped that the attendees of this event will become "IRM Ambassadors" explaining the plaque to other residents.
Some materials have now been posted on the internet (on The Highams Park Portal) and are easily found by a Google search for "IRM Highams Park". This will hopefully allow residents encountering the plaque for the first time to discover more about it.
Attendees suggested that, to draw attention to the plaque, it would be good to place a Point of Interest marker for the plaque on internet maps (e.g. Google Maps and Open Streetmap). MP agreed to pursue this.
c) Signal Box Update
The problems with the drainage remain unresolved but meetings with the lessee and Network rail continue, assisted by RT. All parties remain hopeful for a successful outcome. RT has offered funds from the Signal Box Association to assist the resolution if required. Recent information from Thames Water suggests that the solution might not be as complex as originally feared.
6) Closure of The Highams Park Forum - Updates
At the meeting of 9th September 2019 it was formally agreed that the Forum should close at the end of 2019. This current meeting is thus the final meeting of the Forum.
a) Residual funds
The residual funds of the Forum are the remainder of a grant from Hatch Lane Ward. Cllr Marion Fitzgerald has given permission for these funds (£163.02) to be transferred to The Highams Park Planning Group (HPPG) since many of the Forum's functions will now be performed by the Planning Group. RT will wait until the end of the year before transferring these funds (and closing the bank account) in case of any unexpected last minute expenditure.
The website (www.highamsparkforum.co.uk) now has an introductory page to explain that the Forum is closing and that the website is mothballed and will not be further updated other than to display the final sets of meeting minutes for the meetings of 21st October 2019 and 2nd December 2019.
The website is mothballed within the HPPG's web host. When the domain registration for "www.highamsparkforum.co.uk" expires, the site can still be made accessible via the menus of the Highams Park Portal (www.highamspark.london). MP will diarise this changeover as an action for September 2020 (when the registration expires). The portal is an overarching website for Highams Park and was requested by residents consulted during the creation of The Highams Park Plan.
MP asked attendees whether they wanted the archive of all the minutes of the Forum over the past 19 years to be posted online so they would be available via the website. As a by-product of this it is likely that Google will index the content of the minutes so they will appear in online searches. Attendees requested that this should go ahead but suggested asking members (on the email distribution list) if any objected, perhaps because of privacy issues. MP said he would do that and if there were any objections (even only one) he would not go ahead with the posting of the archive. It should be noted that all the minutes individually have been in the public domain at some point in the past, during the weeks immediately after the particular meeting, but they will have been removed when the subsequent minutes were published.
c) Email address
MP regularly receives emails from residents (and some non-residents) asking questions about Highams Park. The nature of these varies considerably, for example, history, trying to contact someone, information, advice, etc. They arrive addressed to the Forum's official email address. In general, people find this address via a search engine. When the domain registration expires, this contact point will no longer be available.
The HPPG have agreed to take on this function via the Highams Park Portal email address: (email@example.com).
The existing "contact us" page in the mothballed Forum website will be amended by MP at the end of 2019 to direct people to this address.
The wording on the Portal's "contact us" page will be enhanced to contain words that will be picked up by internet search engines so that internet searches will deliver this page to people seeking information. The wording will be phrased to ensure that people know that general enquiries will be welcomed.
d) Facebook page
OS reported that, as requested at the previous meeting, he had closed the Forum's Facebook account.
e) Twitter account
As part of a procedural change at Twitter, they have asked OS for some information. If no response is received by them they will close the account. OS proposed not to respond so the account would be automatically closed. Attendees supported this approach.
f) Ongoing regular public meetings
The HPPG have agreed to hold 3 public meetings each year to satisfy the ongoing need for regular public meetings. These would be the Planning Group's AGM and two further meetings which will be known as "Highams Park Catch-up" meetings. The AGM will tend to focus on the Planning Group's official business but will also include updates about projects and issues within Highams Park. The Catch-up meetings will be more interactive, seeking attendees' views on issues and agreeing necessary actions. It was suggested that if any action points are agreed then a volunteer should be sought at the meeting to carry the action forward who should report back through a designated member of the HPPG's coordinating committee to steer progress. Councillors will be invited to all of these meetings.
The intention at the Catch Up meetings is to create a format that appeals to a wider age group than currently attend. It is proposed that the meetings be fairly informal and held in the downstairs area of Hale End Library with people spread across a number of tables; not in rows like a conference. The meetings will be open to all and the local Ward Councillors will be invited. Refreshments (wine, tea and coffee) will be provided and time will be set aside for people to socialise afterwards. The Catch Up Meetings will run from 7.30pm until 9.00pm.
The dates of the meetings for the whole year will be published in advance to show that they are a regular feature of the Highams Park Calendar and a predictable occurrence rather than a one off.
The dates and venues for 2020 are as follows (now booked with the venues):
· AGM: Thursday 30th January (All Saints Church)
· Catch Up Meeting: Wednesday 10th June (Hale End Library)
· Catch Up Meeting: Wednesday 14th October (Hale End Library)
g) Publicity for the above
It has been agreed that publicising the regular meetings and the contact details are important. To reach all residents, the following vehicles will be used at the end of 2019:
1) Post notices in the library
2) Post notices on the public notice boards
3) Email details to the distribution lists of various Highams Park organisations (e.g. HPPG, HP Society, HP Forum).
Although many Forum members are already members of the HPPG it is known that some are not. The meeting recommended that all such members join the HPPG so they receive meeting reminders and remain in contact with "all things Highams Park". To join, go to www.highamsparkplan.org and click the "Join Us" menu item.
7) Review of 19 years of The Highams Park Forum
RT gave a short talk, reminding attendees of the events that started the Forum and listed some of the numerous successes of the Forum over the years. Attendees contributed their own thoughts. Some of the points mentioned are set out below.
The Forum arose as a by-product of a public meeting held on 3rd October 2000. This was organised by the council in Highams Park School and was looking to better understand residents' concerns and aspirations. In the entrance lobby there was a sheet for people to leave their details if they were interested in participating in a new residents' group to be called "The Highams Park Community Forum". The word "Community" was later dropped as the name was considered by attendees to be a bit unwieldy.
The first Forum meeting took place 29th January 2001, attended by Ron Presswell and Tony Martin of LBWF. Four of the people present at that first meeting are present at this, the last meeting. They are RT, GR, RG & MP.
Initially there was a Rotating Chair, then Roger Torode was elected Chair from 19 March 2001. He did minutes, agendas and correspondence at first, then Mike Payne took on the Secretary role and has done this to date.
Roger Torode retired as Chair from 7 March 2011, and remained as Treasurer. Oliver Shykles took over as Chair from 25 July 2011 to date.
Roger listed numerous achievements, which the Forum either initiated or contributed to. There is not space to list them all but some are set out below (in no particular order):
· The creation of the footpath from the station to Larkshall road
· Saving the Signal Box from demolition
· Starting a Youth Club
Correction of OS maps after 40+ years.
· Influencing road layouts at the station and Broadway; the Selwyn Avenue one way system; and the Hale End Road improvements.
Detailed feedback regarding the various Tesco planning
· Successfully countered proposals to remove the Library to a smaller, leased building.
· The Highams Park Society was created following the Forum, angled more towards historical and social issues, including Highams Park Day.
· The Forum was heavily involved in the creation of the Highams Park Planning Group. The HPPG has been a huge success and now has a membership well in excess of 1000 residents, giving it the critical mass to take on major projects.
Roger noted that Forum meetings have generally been very positive, with a constructive attitude from all participants and a willingness to get involved. He thanked the Councillors for their valuable involvement and the effort they put in on our behalf. With constructive discussions we have all successfully avoided party politics within the Forum.
To round off the discussion, MP pointed out a germane point in the minutes of the very first meeting of the Forum in 2001. Council officer Ron Presswell wrote:
"The main purpose of the group was to work with the Council in preparing a plan for their area which had the broad support of residents, shoppers and businesses. The plan would assist in articulating local views, help in setting key priorities and could also be used as a basis for identifying and/or lobbying for funding and other possibilities".
The Forum did not initially pursue the creation of such a plan, instead preferring to focus on some pressing short term problems. It is pleasing to note however that with the referendum of the Highams Park Plan due to take place in March 2020, Ron Presswell's original objective from 2001 is expected to be soon fulfilled.
8) Continuing the work in years to come
Most attendees were either already members of HPPG or had recently joined and stated that they would continue to enthusiastically work for the betterment of Highams Park within the HPPG.
9) Any other business
RG mentioned that there was a proposal to change the name of "The Transport Liaison Consultative Group" (organised by the council) to "The Public Transport Consultative Group". RG felt that the new name might not properly reflect the need to discuss cycling, walking and air travel, and he would prefer the name to remain as is. Those present supported RGs view about the change.
10) Confirm date, time for next meeting
There will be no further meetings of The Highams Park Forum. The next public meetings (organised by the HPPG) are set out below. Many of the attendees of this current meeting stated that they would be attending the new meetings:
· HPPG AGM: Thursday 30th January 2020 (All Saints Church)
· Catch Up Meeting: Wednesday 10th June 2020 (Hale End Library)
Catch Up Meeting: Wednesday 14th October 2020 (Hale End Library)