Friday, January 22, 2010


“I just think Barkingside has had it!” So says a well known and much loved Barkingside High Street trader who is currently closing down his store. We wish him well in whatever venture awaits him. Where am I going to buy my fat balls now?

Barkingside Home Hardware, Barnes Carpets, and Tootsies the childrens shoe shop are all closing down. The pound shop that recently took over from Harmony has been closed for at least a week. The old Halifax is still vacant and the Estate Agents just along the road has been abandoned. The Chequers pub owners have given up and it is being run temporarily by the Brewery pending a new landlord. Clinton Cards have a massive sale – is that normal? Or are they on the way out too? The advertising hoardings attached to our lampposts have been blank for months. We do though have a new Asian jewellers.

So, what better time to remind everybody that on Monday week, 1st February at 7pm in the Aldborough Room, Fullwell Cross Library, there will be consultation meeting on Barkingside Town Centre’s future.

Chaired by B21 this meeting will have on the panel Keith Prince, Leader of the Council, Mark Lucas and Matthew Maple [Planning Officers] and representatives from the consultants who have conducted a feasibility study. See the flyer here. 4,000 being delivered this weekend in this area.

Note: I nicked the post title from Flesh is Grass, but she used it for a much happier purpose.


  1. And what Brain of Britain decided
    825 metre radius of the centre of Barkingside High Street, which encompasses most of the Golf Course, (strikes me as a load of golf balls) there was was nobody actually living there last time I looked, why not skew the whole thing to the left to actually emcompass people.And once again the hinterland, Chigwell, Grange Hill, Hainault,Gants Hill etc is ignored, it is not just people within throwing distance of the High Street that use it,the hinterland has a vested interest in its survival and use

  2. This is a period of massive change in shopping habits - I'm sorry to see the shops you have mentioned go (both my children and my grandchildren have had shoes from Tootsies), but buyers' habits have changed.

    However, the other massive elephant in the room is the impending sky-high escalation of business rates. Given all the red tape that any business has to contend with nowadays and that is stifling for the small businessman, the prospect of paying anything from 30 to 300% higher rates on top is surely the final straw.

  3. I agree with Dopeyf, the arbitrary choice of the survey area is bizarre. What magic number is 825m?
    Why not the 1km choice for the radius of our allowance circle of friends, why not 666m?
    I agree with Judith that much has to do with our changing shopping habits but if the last straw for traders is the greediness of people asking for rates and rent, killing businesses is not exactly going to bring wealth to these money extractors. Do they care?
    I am going to miss the hardware shop. Where can we buy peanuts in bulk?

  4. Anne - business rates are set by the Government, NOT by landlords, NOT by Redbridge Council.

    Business owners can appeal against the rating, but should they lose, they also have to pay the legal fees.

  5. Thank you Judith. The complexity of all this is bewildering.

  6. Judith,
    I am all for learning all the time and I googled business rates. Well, it would appear that it is a shared effort: local valuation multiplied by a government-set factor. So,...
    And, to get the whole population to hate me, why are business rate valuations upped on a regular basis whilst the rates on dwellings are left well alone and the iniquity of this is hideous when you consider that a small property with a minimal rate can be made a lot bigger, allowing many more people to live there, creating massive demands on waste collecting for one. Old households with minimum demand being replaced by high maintenance families and the rate contribution remaining at the lower level!
    Is that fair?

  7. Ma chere, you are opening a vieux can of worms here!

    There are more votes in placating domestic rate payers than business rate payers - Govts of all colours shirk revaluing domestic property so it is seldom done, and so when it does happen, the rates rocket just to catch up.

    But remember what happened when the Poll Tax was introduced in a clumsy attempt to improve the system?

  8. Well, that's not the whole story. The valuation of the property is only one part of the equation. The other part is the Rate applied to it. All things being equal the valuations could all go up, but in order for the council to raise the same amount they would reduce the Rate, meaning everyone would pay the same as before.

    The difference comes when a property has been extended, and they would pay more.

    It is a trick to suggest that a property that remains the same would be hit by a re-Valuation exercise.

  9. "...... the council ...... would reduce the rate ......"

    What a joker you are, B21. You're more likely to be visited by the tooth fairy!

  10. Not at all, Morris.
    Think about it. People make their judgement on what they are required to pay.
    They don't generally look at the Valuation or the rate - just the bill!

  11. I attended the Barkingside ‘regeneration’ meeting at Ilford County High School on December 10th. There were some ten or twelve councillors present and about the same number of assorted ‘consultants’. In fact the platform almost outnumbered the floor.

    From that meeting it appeared that £70,000 of taxpayers money has been spent by Redbridge council on a futile consultation exercise for a regeneration scheme for which no funding whatsoever is currently available, none has been approved, and for which no public funding is even being considered!

    A bright sparky young lady, on behalf of these expensive consultants, stood up in front of us, and with the aid of computer generated graphics, informed us of the many regeneration options open to us fortunate residents. They included changing the single roundabout at Fullwell Cross into three small ones, introducing two more cafés (to add to the existing thirty-one eating places in Barkingside High Street – I’ve counted them), narrowing a few local roads ‘to improve the traffic flow’ (of course it will) and closing off Baron Gardens, heaven only knows why!

    I’m sure that any resident who has lived near the High Street for more than ten minutes will appreciate how much we all need two more eateries.

    I gathered from the general tone of that meeting, that it is the Council’s intention – or would ‘ambition’ be a more suitable word? - to turn Barkingside High Street by stages into a latter-day Champs Elysees, with prestige shops and a tree lined boulevard.

    Ignoring the fact any sane shopkeeper would need to make a profit – perish the thought - these schemes would need millions of pounds which Council members declared they hope to be given by some generous developer. I have news for these ingenuous ladies and gentlemen. Are they thinking to ask for money the same ‘developers’, landlords if you like, whose avarice has closed down more businesses in the high street than the Great Fire of London?
    Developers do not run charity organisations, and if that kind of money is being thrown around, be absolutely in no doubt whatever, they will need to own the town.

    Councillor Stark welcomed the proposals and suggested nobly that Barkingside might be prettified in the same way as
    Calais, with flower beds in the streets and similar embellishments. Anyone who has visited that enlightened town would know that there is not so much as a matchstick to be found on the pavements, very few shops have steel shutters closed down overnight, the motor car is acknowledged as a permanent modern convenience and in most places parking is free, and all the cafés leave their tables and chairs out overnight. Before any town in England can hope to emulate continental standards, the public has to be re-educated, and that is not going to happen, is it?

    Yes of course there is the need for radical improvement in Barkingside, but why not first concentrate on the half-empty rubbish bins which have piles of rubbish strewn around them on the pavement? Why not introduce more useable seats for the elderly? Why not provide one or two more public toilets, adequately protected against the vandalism which has closed the ones in the library to the general public? Why not clean up the vandalised telephone kiosks? Why not make the local parks free to use – even for dreaded car-owners?

    Oh yes, Councillors, there’s certainly a lot to be done, and all of it without a single penny being spent on ‘Feasibility Studies’.

    They’ll be thinking about a racecourse next.

  12. Thank you Alfred for supplying the figure we have long been seeking:

    £70,000 - that’s seventy thousand pounds.

    Public money wasted on Consultants consulting on Barkingside’s Regeneration when there is no money to make any of the suggestions a reality.

    Shameful. How do they get away with it?

    £70,000...I hope that figure is engraved on the political headstones of the people on Redbridge Council (of Any political hue).

    Perhaps they should pay for this out of their own pockets.

    They cut cut cut much-needed (and already stretched) public services,; they raise raise raise their expense limits; and they waste waste waste public money.

    Let’s face it: this Council - and these Councillors - are simply Not Fit For Purpose.

  13. nick hayes (fullwell ward)1:12 am, January 26, 2010

    Anne - the valuation of properties for business rates purposes is carried out by the Valuation Office Agency which is an offshoot of HM Revenue and Customs. The closest it gets to a local element is which VOA office deals with it.

    The rate itself is fixed by central government. Local Councils are responsible for collecting it on behalf of central government but have no control over who pays how much nor how the money gets spent.

  14. The redimanager is advertising today a consultation about Barkingside High Street:
    The public meeting is being hosted by the Barkingside 21 community group, in co-operation with the Council. It will be held at 7pm on Monday, 1 February in the Aldborough Room of Fulwell Cross Library on Barkingside High Street.
    I have a wish: could Albert be there and speak the words he has written. If Albert cannot do this, could somebody else read it on his behalf?
    Every councillor and consultant should be made to read it and sign to say they have done so.

  15. Let's hope that plenty of the public attend and have their say, and that the council officers attending are not those with serious hearing impairments.

  16. Morris - your comment is unfair with regard to Councillor Graham Borrott.

  17. I suggest, jawal1, that you read my comment again and you will see that it refers to COUNCIL OFFICERS, not to any councillor.

  18. If you mean ALFRED, Anne (not Albert) I intended to do just that - subject to the chairman's permision.

    In fact there's even more to it but I'll need to read it because my memory fails my (?)eloquence.

  19. Apologies for getting your name wrong Alfred and the worse is that I scrolled the screen several times to make sure I got it right.
    If you are going to speak at the meeting I will want to hear it.

  20. There is supposed to be a NEL Public consultion meeting tomorrow, 28 Jan, 1 - 3pm at Fullwell X library - I will try to make it, because we should be nailing this lie that the re-organisation is nothing to do with the financial situation.

    Even the BMA think that Redbridge is going to come out worst, out of the whole of London, from this wretched fiasco.

  21. Why do these organisations insist on holding such meetings during the working hours of the general public? Is it done deliberately to minimise the public expression of opposition to their plans?

  22. This is one of a series of meetings. The first one was in the evening at James Hawkey Hall. The date and time of the meeting next month is yet to be confirmed.

  23. Well, someone muttered something about buses elsewhere in this blog, so
    take a look at the pictures here.

    Not interested in buses? I can assure you that they're very nice buses! Fast, quiet and non polluting ...

    ... but there's something else - several of these pictures were taken in Barkingside High Street and show a lot of detail - perhaps that will interest you!

    I notice that some of you may not be strangers to the site - there's a credit to a certain Cllr Hickey in there somewhere ...!

    So, here's your change to see what it was like in Barkingside over half a century ago ...

  24. Barkingside High Street over half a century ago............

    Ah, happy days! A 3d cornet in Rossi's (different premises from now); the library in one of the shops near the Chequers; a 691 to Barking via the current 169 route, a 26 to Chigwell Row and Lambourne End via Grange Hill, the 129 shuttle between Claybury Broadway and Ilford Station, a peak hour 139 to Dagenham Dock; a malt loaf in Pithers for 6d, a lunch time half pint in The Chequers (the Latin teacher used the Johnson, and the licencee in the Fairlop was one of Dad's friends!). And no Transport for London to spoil it all!!

  25. Re the B’side regeneration, in this time of Slump, I want to dispense with fancy schemes thought up by expensive consultants whose aim is to make a profit for themselves.. I should just like B’side to be cleaned up including a reduction of distracting street furniture. I am dismayed by the closure of several useful shops, especially the one where I bought my mouse traps and borax, etc, but it seems that Government central control is driving them out.

    At the Swimmers Users’ meeting last night, we heard that the new and attractive Spa has already received the attention of vandals. No schemes will succeed unless we can think of a way of diverting feral youth. Parental education would be a contribution,

  26. Spot on, Margaret. No doubt we shall hear more from you at Monday night's meeting.

  27. Margaret said:

    "... I want to dispense with fancy schemes thought up by expensive consultants ..."

    Well, I've been privy to the cheapest scheme of all - produced by a man of 94 - at no cost to anybody but himself! (His time is given freely but I'm sure that he must have incurred some expense in the production of his excellent proposal.)

    His plan is entirely hand drawn and I was amazed at the excellent cartography - not easy, I can assure you!

  28. 30th January - and now the trendy clothes shop between Clinton Cards and the Cheesecake Shop is closing down:-

  29. They'll be closing the flats above all those shops next.....

  30. Terribly sad about Home and Hardware. I felt a real sinking feeling when I saw the note in their window. This was a great shop, one I have frequently needed.

    If I weren't committed to be somewhere else with money down, I'd be at tomorrows meeting. Will await the reports with anticipation.

    In Chorlton, the locals saved their toyshop. Business ignoramus that I am I'm not sure that this approach would have worked with a hardware store in Barkingside, but I would say that 'cooperative' is definitely a word for these times. Read more about Busy Bee:

  31. What is happen on Barkingside high street is a sad change in the past 5 years to all that know it. If new bussiness are not attracted or previous whom have since left don't return it will become a white elephant unattractive to all. Please don't allow it to turn into high street of flats, Redbridge health services and council can not not cope as it is. Please to those people in the senior positions it is in your intrest to have a diverse high street which does meet everyone needs e.g Hardware shop, toy shop, a shop a like to woolworths, sports shop, carpet bussiness - need I go on. Please no more take away bussiness really dose'nt support our generation.

    Action needs to be taken now.