Friday, September 04, 2015

The Migration ‘Crisis’ – Emergency meeting in Ilford, What can you do?

Over the last few days RAMFEL (the Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London, based in Ilford) has been overwhelmed by offers of assistance made in support of the current ‘migration crisis’ after the heart rending pictures in the national press of a 3 year old boy washed up on a Greek beach - if you haven't seen it here it is:

Offers of assistance have ranged from people as far as Wiltshire, and Witham offering a room, people collecting monies, volunteering, and donating foods and toiletries. Those further afield have been redirected to organisations closer to their home.

To cope with demand RAMFEL have organised a meeting to address any concerns and help organise efforts, explain what can be done and what is needed:

Thursday 10th September 2015, 6.30pm-8.30pm, 
Cardinal Heenan Centre, 
326 High Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1QP.

There may well be a further meeting the weekend of Saturday 19th September for those unable to attend next Thursday. If you are interested then please do email or ring 0208 478 4513 (please bear in mind they are currently experiencing exceptionally large volume of queries and you may find their phone lines engaged, but please do leave a message and they will get back to you as soon as possible).

Meanwhile local MP Wes Streeting tweeted that he has been inundated with emails from constituents asking for more action to be taken.

And there is a 38º petition asking Redbridge Council to take 50 refugee families.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Redbridge - Getting tough on planning rule breakers

A consultation is taking place on a new policy which will allow the Council to get tough on those people who breach planning rules.

Where a planning breach has occurred, for example where a resident has built an extension without gaining appropriate planning consent, we will carry out the following steps:
  1. inform responsible parties that they have breached planning rules
  2. negotiate to informally resolve breaches within 28 days where possible and if appropriate
  3. enforce and take action if negotiations fail or if the breach poses significant concerns or potential harm to residents, for example substandard, poor quality housing
The policy also provides guidance on how we will use our existing powers to undertake “direct action” to resolve long-standing planning breaches. Where appropriate, we will be able to enter land to correct a breach and this could involve demolition of unlawful structures. In these instances the Council will seek to recover any costs incurred from the responsible parties. The option of this direct action will be used alongside prosecution and / or injunctions to resolve enforcement cases in a timely manner.

Give us your views
You can find out more about the new policy and give us your views here
The closing date for the consultation is 21 September 2015.

If the policy is formally adopted following a review of the consultation responses, a “direct action” pilot will take place in autumn 2015. This pilot will allow a number of outstanding planning enforcement cases to be resolved.

Suspected planning breaches can be reported here.

London’s Environment Newsletter
- First Edition

Last moth I was privileged to receive in my electronic mailbox the very first edition of London’s Environment Newsletter, direct from the Mayor, Boris Johnson. We’ve only had a London Mayor since the year 2000 so it’s about time. If you are interested in the environment, and if you are not what are you doing reading this, you can sign up for your own copy here.

To give you a taste here’s how it starts:

Hi folks, welcome to my new environment newsletter.
I want to improve the quality of life for all Londoners and involve people in the work that we do. So this newsletter will provide you with regular updates on what we’re doing at City Hall to make sure London is ready to face the 21st century’s environmental challenges head on.
We must make better use of the resources that we consume. That’s why we’re making our buildings and homes more energy efficient. We’re also reducing water use and turning London’s waste into a useful resource. We want Londoners to breathe sweeter air and make sure our great city can adapt to the potential impacts of climate change and extreme weather. That’s why we’re investing in cleaner transport, like electric buses, and finding new ways of draining our streets and buildings to reduce the risk of flooding.
We need to protect and improve the city’s green spaces [my emphasis] so that London maintains its status as one of the world’s greenest big cities. That’s why we’re promoting tree-planting and the restoration of rivers.
It goes on to talk about London’s cleaner buses and spotlights Pocket Parks that “have ‘popped up’ in 26 different London boroughs with the help of brilliant local community groups”. That’s us! Then the Re:Fit and Re:New initiatives.

It rounds off with:
London's population is growing by 110,000 people every year [my emphasis] and our team needs to make sure the city is ready to support this. Watch our film to see how we are helping London retain its title as one of the best big green cities in the world.

The video has been up on the web for just over a month now and it has had just over 300 views, so it’s going down a treat with London’s 8 million inhabitants. And most of those views are probably from the Eco Team of 9 year olds at the featured Redbridge Primary School.

So, quite how we protect our green open spaces and accommodate all these extra people without building tower blocks in already built up areas like the Wanstead & Woodford Corridor remains to be seen. I would also expect the Cleaner Air lobby and the Trollybus lobby to have something to say on the content …

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Walthamstow Wine

credit: Barry Fontaine
In 1667 Samuel Pepys enjoyed a fine Walthamstow wine. Now Organiclea are bringing wine making back to the Lea Valley.

London grape growers invited to join Community Wine Making Scheme

Do you grow grapes in your garden or allotment that you would like to have made into a clean and pleasant tasting wine? If so, then community food co-operative Organiclea is inviting you to deliver your harvested grapes to its Hawkwood Winery in North London this autumn. The Winery will combine all deliveries into two batches to make red and white wine, and will then return the finished wine to participating growers in the proportion of grapes they deliver to this year’s vintage.

The minimum individual delivery the winery will accept is one full bucket of ripe, clean grapes. You can expect to get one bottle of red wine for every 1.5 kilos of grapes and a bottle of white wine for every 2 kilos.

In return for your grapes and a minimal production fee of £6 per bottle, Hawkwood Winery will ferment, age and bottle the wine, releasing it to you in September 2016. Your wine you will be for domestic consumption only – that is, it cannot be sold.

Since its launch in 2013, the Community Wine Making Scheme has turned 850 kilos of grapes into wine for 64 households across London. The grapes are fermented in the autumn and the wine is settled and aged in tanks through the winter. The white wine is bottled in the late spring and the red wine at the end of summer. The participating growers are invited to the Hawkoood Winery to taste the young wines in the late spring and pick up their bottled wine in September.

You may be interested to watch Steve Tippell’s mini-documentary about the beginning of this scheme - “Wine Revived; community wine making in North East London”:

The days on which the grapes can be delivered to the winery will be announced at the beginning of September, and will depend on how grapes are ripening across London in this particular year. Participants in the wine making scheme will be informed in good time to allow them to harvest and deliver their grapes to the winery.

To join the scheme please contact Marko Bojcun at with the following information: your post code, the expected weight or volume of your harvest, the grape variety, if known, and whether you treat your vines with any sprays.

Organiclea is a workers' cooperative, growing food on London's edge in the Lea Valley. The co-operative’s main growing site is the Hawkwood Plant Nursery, where its winery and vineyard are also located. For more information and directions visit: 

Marko Bojcun 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bin Stuffers – The new crime that’s sweeping Britain

Redbridge Council may describe their bin service as “your rubbish collection” but actually their collection of household waste, recycling and green waste is quite good and not rubbish at all. We have even got a new free bulky waste collection service. However, all is not well elsewhere and given the state of our council’s finances I thought I’d get in quick before they consider taking on “best practice” or “innovative new ideas” from other council’s up and down the country. We don’t want this (below) catching on do we?

128 bus stop Wensleydale Avenue, 7pm 24 August 2015
Yes, that is a Tesco trolley behind the bin
The new crime that’s sweeping Britain via Business Waste
Who’s watching your rubbish bins? That’s the question that’s being asked as phantom bin stuffers are avoiding tip fees and council fines by stuffing their rubbish into other people’s bins.
It’s an anti-social behaviour that many in the recycling industry warned would happen as extra red tape makes it cheaper for rogue traders and lazy householders to dump their rubbish onto other people.
Recent cases of criminal activity meeting official lack of common sense have resulted in residential bins not being emptied because bin lids are open less than an inch, and companies unlocking their premises in the morning to find their bins filled to the brim with another company’s rubbish.
In a recent incident, one resident of Gloucester found that local contractors had not emptied his domestic bin because the lid was open by less than an inch, after a phantom bin stuffer had filled his wheelie bin to the brim overnight.
“It’s this kind of mindless red tape brought in with the best of intentions, that is infuriating for the victims,” says Hall. “And when councils start handing out on-the-spot fines for over-filled bins or the wrong kind of recycling, it’s only going to get worse.”
“‘Closed lid’ policies that encourage people to recycle more sound great in a council meeting room, but in practice it reeks of bureaucrats not understanding the real world,” he continued. “Council policy is often geared to punishing people for full bins, rather than help them cut down on their waste.”
Full article here.
Here’s another one spotted earlier by Redbridge Blue.