Sunday, May 31, 2015

Oakfield – The SOS Position

Council Meeting Wednesday 3rd June 7.15pm Ilford Town Hall - This one really matters. No excuses, we need you, your family, your friends and your neighbours to be there. This is the last time we can speak at Council before it goes to Government. They will hear what happens and you must show you care.

It is time to be angry. The election is over and the Council has confirmed that Oakfields is their preferred option after all. You may think or hear that this is the end.
  • This is only a recommendation by the Council.
  • It now goes to the National Planning Inspectorate and unlike the Council they cannot simply ignore our objections.
  • We can even ask the Secretary of State to intervene, put it on hold or take the decision as happened with the planned race course at Fairlop Waters
The Council will need to explain why:
  • They have refused to respond to a House of Commons petition signed by almost 5,000
  • They have refused to let us address full Council despite this being the published process for a Council petition signed by 1,500. We were 1,800.
  • They have ignored the representations of Sport England, the Football Association, the England & Wales Cricket Board, London Sport and London Playing Fields Foundation.
  • They have ignored the evidence: pollution, obesity, traffic, overpopulation, hospitals in special measures and loss of maternity and A&E, Council services and schools unable to meet demand, Green Belt and covenant protection passed on when Oakfields passed into public ownership, sports participation by boys and girls and women and men.
Why have they done this?

Money. Oakfields was the only option that would make the Council money and they have been after it since at least 2008 according to official Council reports and minutes.

As for Housing, today their are 1,800 properties for sale or rent in Redbridge on Right Move. Developing Oakfields would provide less than 5% of the Council's plan. The issue is not availability but affordability and that is based on low interest rates, high deposits, and high rents driven by overseas demand and buy to let. [Ed: There are 10 empty homes for every homeless family in England]
Instead of selling YOUR asset used by OUR existing community, the Council should explain why it has failed to deliver sufficient affordable housing despite enough housing being built to accommodate 50,000 more people between 2001 and 2013.

Stand with us next Wednesday 3rd and Save Oakfield Site

Saturday, May 30, 2015

King George A&E – Where are we at?

Ilford North’s new MP, Wes Streeting, (and Redbridge Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing from May 2014 to May 2015) asked his first question in parliament last week and it was on this very subject. He wants a debate.

Meanwhile, the Save KGH A&E campaign team met yesterday (Friday) and Wes was also there. Here are some notes from Helen Zammett.

Further to our meeting this morning, I am writing to confirm that Redbridge Council has endorsed the future plan of KGH being a centre of excellence for children's and women's services as well as replacing A+E with an urgent care centre. (Ed: without, apparently, the former Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing knowing).

Therefore, I attach a copy of page 2 of the final submission of the ICC 2014 Strategic Plan detailing the plan for KGH, under the heading “Delivered through acute re-configuration programme”, a copy of page 10 of the plan showing how it was endorsed by Redbridge Council.

For those who would like further information on the ICC, I also attach a short paper on the organisation, with appropriate attachments.


This is an unelected, informal, unaccountable ad hoc committee, which is not set up by statute or regulation. It is the successor to the Chief Executive’s Committee and its terms of reference were approved by the ICC itself. It is chaired by the Chief Executive of Havering Borough Council with senior officers from NELFT and BHRUT, healthcare representatives from the other two boroughs and the Ambulance Service.

The RCCG website states: “Senior leaders across health and social care in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge (BHR) have committee to working together in a new guiding coalition of strategic partners that is developing a joint approach to integrated care to build a sustainable health and social care system. The Integrated Care Coalition has been established as an Advisory Board to oversee strategic change across health and social care.
The Coalition acts to bring together senior leaders in the BHR health and social care economy to support the three BHR Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and three Local Authorities in commissioning integrated care ….. It also included our main providers BHRUT and NELFT.”

The first attachment is a chart showing the relationship between the ICC and the other statutory bodies in the BHRUT area, illustrating the gap between the ICC and statutory bodies. The second attachment shows the membership of the ICC Committee [which is a few months old so there may be some personnel changes.]

The ICC terms of reference state: “By 2013 decisions on integrated care will be a shared responsibility between health and social care; by CCGs in partnership with the respective Local Authorities. The Health and Wellbeing Boards of the three boroughs will be key to this partnership. The ICC will act as an Advisory Board to the commissioning decision-makers. The constituent bodies will not delegate decision making to the Coalition but will need to ensure that decisions are made at the appropriate levels within their organisations that are required to make progress on integrated care.”

However, when the final submission of the Strategic Plan was submitted in June 2014, it was not publicised or debated. This lack of consultation with local people and organisations that represent them such as the LINk [now Healthwatch] expressed by Carl Blackburn of CVS, was minuted in the 25 September 2012 B&D Health and Wellbeing Board. These minutes also point out that there is no statutory obligation for local councils to accept the recommendations of the ICC:

“… the Chair pointed out that the political agendas of all three boroughs will inevitably play a part in determining whether a borough enters into an agreement to adopt a new model for integrated care. The Council has an obligation to protect its sovereignty and assets from being subsumed, used and disposed of in ways that will not serve LBBD residents.”

The ICC brief
The third attachment states the ICC purpose.

The ICC Sub-group
This has been established to:
“Draw together clinical, provider, commissioner, managerial and programme management expertise. 
Generate recommendations for high impact changes that will deliver integrated care in the BHR economy. 
Produce a strategy and work plan for delivering agreed changes.”

The membership of this group has not been identified.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gridlock on Forest Road
– Bridge does not hit Lorry

First the good news. Redbridge council has now installed double yellow lines all the way along Forest Road from Fullwell Cross roundabout to Fairlop Station on the north side opposite King Solomon High School. This is intended to prevent the continual congestion caused by parked vehicles on both sides of the road which create “chicanes” and prevent traffic from passing in both directions at the same time.

But this is not the only problem in Forest Road. There is the low bridge.

For a week or maybe two past there has been a temporary one-way traffic light system in Forest Road by Forest Farm due to road works. This has caused some delay but only a few minutes. But yesterday evening at about 7:30pm it was gridlock. Why? Haha! I will tell you.

A large lorry travelling west had gone through the temporary one-way lights whereupon the driver realised it could not pass under the bridge and so stopped. Parked on double yellow lines outside the Railway cottages. Now these lorries are much wider than cars or vans so the west bound traffic behind it (including me) was having difficulty getting past it because of the queue of east bound traffic waiting for the temporary one-way lights. The queue of eastbound traffic could not move because the westbound traffic had backed up through the one-way system.

What normally happens is that the Police arrive, hold up the traffic so the lorry can reverse back to and then into the Fairlop Waters entrance and then exit with a right-turn back from whence it came. Quite how they managed to do this yesterday I don’t know. They would have had to clear the grid locked traffic first. I turned round at Fairlop Waters and got to Barkingside the long way round.

Can’t wait for 800 removal pantechnicons lining up down Forest Road …

Monday, May 25, 2015

Going: Oakfield - The Latest

The elections are over, both the locals in 2014 and the nationals in 2015.

And we are back to where we were in 2013, just before the then Cabinet Member referred the Local Plan back to officers to come up with alternatives to developing the Oakfield site. The results of the consultation are now published and the recommendation is …. to go ahead as planned in 2013.

This will be discussed at the Neighbourhoods and Communities Service Committee on Wednesday 3rd June and then go to (we presume) a special Full Council meeting on 11th June, which was announced at the last Full Council but does not as yet appear on the meetings calendar.

The agenda and papers for the Service committee are published here.

The full report, a 15Mb PDF is here.

And the Appendix 3 (The Recommended Plan) a 27Mb PDF is here.

UPDATE 4th June: The Local Plan will not now go to an extraordinary Full Council on 11th June but will return with a further report to the Neighbourhoods And Communities Service Committee at a later date to be determined. See Redbridge statement here.


Remember this? It's gone.

And this disappeared after about two weeks ...

Every Little Helps

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Five Reasons to Eat Seasonally

1. Save Money

When fruit and veg are in season they are less expensive. There is an abundance of strawberries, for example, when they are in season. As a result they are less expensive in the summer (except during Wimbledon fortnight) than in the winter. Eating with the seasons is a habit that is easy on the wallet.

2. Discover Different Foods

There is more to spring eating than asparagus and wild garlic (although both are delicious!). Eating seasonally will encourage you to discover foods that you may not be used to eating. It will diversify your meals and allow you to try new tastes. There is an incredible variety of fruit and veg available, yet most of us stick to eating the same ones. Finding out what grows in the spring will help you learn about rare, endangered, and heirloom foods. Have you ever tried 'Good King Henry'? It's a wild plant that looks similar to spinach. Or what about 'Morels'? They're a kind of mushroom that looks like something out of a science fiction novel.

3. Support Local Farms

Much of the seasonal produce available comes from local farms. When you buy fruit and veg in a supermarket, there are many items that are not in season in the UK and as a result, they are shipped in from abroad. When something is in season, it is often sourced from a UK farm. You can guarantee that your seasonal produce is from a local farm by shopping at a local farmer's market or ordering a weekly Organic Ilford vegbag.

4. Enjoy better flavour

Have you ever eaten a tomato January? If you have, it may have put you off eating them for while. The cardboard taste is enough to make anyone wonder why they ever liked tomatoes at all. Fast-forward to mid-July, and tomatoes are not only bursting with colour and flavour, but they have a strong smell as well. Eating seasonally reconnects you with the flavours of the foods you eat.

5. Support Sustainable Farming Methods

Eating seasonally not only means that you support local farms, it also allows you to support sustainable farming methods. When food is grown locally and the supply chain is reduced, as a consumer it is easier to find not only where something is grown but also how it grown.

This post first appeared in the Organic Ilford Newsletter.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Meet the Met

A message from Redbridge Police

Dear Resident

In June 2015, the BBC will screen a six-part documentary on the Metropolitan Police Service. Called simply ‘The Met’, it will give an unrivalled insight into the workings of the UK’s largest police force, showcasing what we do well, what we don’t do so well, where we’ve got it right and some of those occasions on which we’ve got it wrong.

Redbridge is one of the boroughs featured in the programme and, as your local police we’re keen to hear what you think of the documentary. We also want to get your comments on the activities and behaviours shown on screen, and on how we can improve the service that we provide to the public.

To do this, we’ll be showing each and every episode of the documentary at three sites around Redbridge - north, central and south - and want to encourage every single one of you to come along to your local screening, watch the documentary and take part in a public meeting afterwards.

You’ll get the opportunity to ask questions about the way police handled the incidents shown on film, comment on our performance and provide feedback on how, in your view, we could have done better.

The times and locations of the showings will be made available in due course, but if you would like to attend one or more of these screenings please get in touch to confirm your place by replying to

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at these innovative events.

Best wishes
Mel Baker
Neighbourhood Inspector
Redbridge Borough

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Local Business Week
- Green Local Business Directory

This week is Local Business Week

Over the past few decades there has been a marked decline in large manufacturing industries within the UK while multi-national corporations seem to have invaded every aspect of our lives; which is a concern for our independents [sic!] and way of life.

However, SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) now account for more than 99% of all UK businesses and nearly half of all private sector employment, making the support and growth of local commerce as important as ever in driving economic stability and opening new markets in communities.

Local Business Week (18th to 24th May) is a call to action to both the public and the government to support local enterprises. The campaign also calls on entrepreneurial, managerial, financial and technical experts to give advice and resources that small business owners can use to compete with the big guys.

In addition, the rapid advance of technology is providing an ever expanding range of opportunities for small business in new creative industries, such as leisure, digital/IT, media, culture and the green sector.

It is said that the low carbon industry can be the engine of growth in the U.K. (CBI Report)

Redbridge has long had a good reputation for entrepreneurship and Sophia Hubs provides a valuable resource for enhancing that reputation. Volunteer Jenny Coverdale has created a new green business directory linking a variety of sectors, from green industries, to the arts, therapy and training. Collaboration between businesses provides greater opportunities for joint working, maintains business and finance in the local area and provides opportunities to promote interlinked systems and ‘Smart-City’ approaches for our borough.

Sophia Hubs plan to hold a green business network event soon but before they do so, they would like to create a more comprehensive list. Please get in touch with Ros (email) if you would like to know more, register your business or suggest a business that you know or use.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dandelion Wine, Coffee and Salad

Ella Wheeler Wilcox once wrote: "A weed is but an unloved flower." If there is any plant which this quote applies to, it is most definitely the dandelion. People queue up in garden shops in order to buy the latest weed-killing chemicals and grass fertilisers in order to have what they may see as the perfect lawn. Many who don't use chemicals to remove weeds will get out their lawn mower as soon as they see the bright yellow flowers pop up in their grass. While many may rush to get rid of dandelions before they spread, there are those who appreciate dandelions for what they bring in the early summer months.

The bees, pollen beetles, hoverflies, beetles, and even some birds, don't see dandelions as weeds at all. Pass by any patch of grass where they haven't been cut down and you will see that they are teeming with wildlife. Dandelions, as well as other flowers which have been categorised as weeds, are essential in providing insects and birds with food from late March to May.

Dandelions are stubborn plants. They spread quickly, their roots are difficult to dig up, and they seem to be able to grow just about anywhere. It's a good thing they are so stubborn because of their importance to wildlife. Despite how much humans may dislike them or try to get rid of them, their determination to grow in spite of people's dislike for them is part of what makes them so great. Regardless of how much people try and destroy them, they manage to make themselves available to wildlife looking for food.

Before dandelions were seen as weeds, they were used for medicinal purposes to treat skin conditions and poor circulation. While the dandelion may no longer be widely used for its healing properties, it is making a comeback as an edible plant. It is increasingly popular to use the leaves in salads, to make wine out of the flowers, and to make a coffee-like drink out of roots. Whether you are going to try out the dandelion's culinary possibilities or let wildlife feast on its delights, consider postponing their removal from your back garden or lawn. The bees will be grateful.

This post first appeared in the Organic Ilford Newsletter.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Redbridge Rats

There is a new PDF document on Redbridge-i that tells you all you ever wanted to know about rats. Apparently our native Black Rat is very rare (like our native red squirrel) and you are very unlikely to see one in Redbridge. What we have got here is the Brown Rat or Norway Rat. Anyway the most important bit is right at the top in the very first sentence:
Rats pose a significant health risk; they can carry a range of serious diseases which can be transmitted to humans. The most serious of these are Weil's disease, Plague, Salmonella food poisoning and Toxoplasmosis.
Given the nature of the public health risk (significant) our local authority has hitherto provided a Rat treament service for residential premises free of charge. Not any more. As of April 1st 2015 this service will now cost you £70. I have not been able to find any mention or notification of this in Redbridge Life, on the council website or indeed in the budget papers presented to Cabinet and Full Council. It may be there, but I haven’t found it. (The search facility on Redbridge-i isn’t that good.)

What I did find was the results of last year’s You Choose exercise. Out of a population of somewhere near 300,000 there were 677 responses. That’s 0.23% or just less than one quarter of one percent. Of the 677 responses, 516 chose the option “Introduce charges for some free services”, not knowing which of the free services the council had in mind.

So, the question now is: what other hitherto free services now incur a charge? And should we be told?

My guess is that most people who use this service, as from 1st April, would not know that it used to be free (unlike former Councillors) and would not question it - and this may also be true for any other service charges that have been introduced and we don't know about, until we come to use them.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Jazz Hands for the new Mayor of Redbridge

As is customary on this blog we welcome the new Mayor of Redbridge, Cllr Barbara White. She is a well-known jazz singer and musician, her favourite instrument being the trumpet - so we can expect a fanfare of horns promoting our borough throughout the coming municipal year. Here she is pictured with Deputy Mayor and Scrabble champion, Cllr Thavathuray Jeyaranjan (I copied and pasted that).

And in true jazz hands style her rainbow charities for this year are:
  • Guide Dogs for the Blind
  • PDSA
  • Redbridge Faith Forum
  • The Carers Trust
  • Redbridge Equalities & Community Council
  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Hopes and Dreams
Seven! We wish her well with that. You can keep up to date with the Mayor's engagements via the mayor's blog on Redbridge-i, and for the latest Jazz news you can visit the RAFA club at 295 Cranbrook Road on a Thursday evening.

Bowling Over - a New Beginning

When one door closes, so the saying goes, another opens. Or you could just open the closed door; that’s how doors work. Back in 2013 the Cranbrook Park Bowling Club closed its doors for the last time after over century of operation in Valentines Park, Ilford. The clubhouse, pictured, has stood empty since. But now it is taking on a new lease of life and is poised to be, once again, a hub for community activity.

Three local voluntary groups, ASNet (the Arthritis Support Network), East London Radio and the Redbridge Music Lounge, are poised to take up residence and the building will be renamed The Cranbrook Centre.

Since the clubhouse was built in 1911 there are some essential building and refurbishment works that require immediate attention:
  • an accessible WC
  • fire and security alarms
  • new wiring
  • heating
  • a soundproof rehearsal room
  • secure storage
So, they are now into crowd funding mode. Fundraising for buildings often lets people “buy a brick” – but as this is a wooden building, the Cranbrook Centre are asking people to buy planks at £1 per inch.

How to donate: text BEES26 followed by the amount of your donation to 70070.

Or you could register with Easy Fundraising and raise funds every time you make a purchase via the internet with over 2,700 retailers.

Further information about each individual group is available via their websites - embedded hyperlinks are above.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Play Time

Election over and we have a new Member of Parliament, Wes Streeting, here in Ilford North. Congratulations to him and commiserations to Lee Scott and the other 4 candidates. There may be another election shortly in Aldborough ward if Wes steps down from his role on the council, but we don’t know for certain yet. There is a precedent. When Lee Scott was elected in 2005 he also was a Redbridge councillor and didn’t step down, but then there was only one year to go. Currently there are three years before the next locals, so it seems quite likely.

So, back to mundane issues affecting us here in Barkingside. We have a lot of housing to make space for in our borough and we don’t want to sacrifice valuable, high grade and well-used sports areas like the Oakfield site. Here’s a couple of pictures taken during the week.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Bin Housing in Redbridge

Anyone else noticed the new state of the art Glasdon Modus recycling bin housings that are being installed at bring sites all around the borough? Tom Lawrence, the borough’s Recycling Manager says “The project aims to transform the old, somewhat forlorn looking steel recycling bins into eye-catching focal points for residents to recycle their waste. In total there are seven, different designs featuring sepia images of yesteryear Redbridge.”

The images are as follows:
  • Barkingside High Street c1900
  • Fairlop Waters c 1978
  • Gants Hill Roundabout c1934
  • Eagle Pond c1917
  • The Red Bridge over the River Roding c1920
  • Ilford Hill c1900
  • Hermon Hill c1905
Tom is hopeful that the new, tidier bins will help encourage feelings of pride about the borough, and that problems associated with the bring sites such as littering and fly-tipping will reduce. He explained that “Whilst we don’t know exactly what the long term effects will be, Keep Britain Tidy, who are very positive about the project, have been conducting some monitoring before and after, so hopefully we’ll have some positive news to report soon.”

Here’s a before and after shot showing the Horns Road site. Click on the image for a larger view.

If you want to see those at the Craven Gardens car park you will have to go and look yourself. We think it is a big improvement; we don’t want the bins spoiling the look of the new Virginia Gardens Pocket Park do we? So hopefully they are high on Tom’s list.

And before anyone has a strop at the costs while other things are being slashed in these austere times we can tell you that the installation of these bin housings is being funded by a £100,000 grant from the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) after a successful bid to their Driving up Performance fund.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Meet Your Local Farmer

From the Organic Ilford Newsletter:

Alice Holden is the Head Grower at the Growing Communities Dagenham Farm. She spoke to OI! about why it's so important to support organic farms.

Q: How did you get into farming?
A: After university I worked on my dad's farm as well as on a farm down the road. During that period I realised that farming organically was a job that can combine nurturing people and environment. Rather than seeing it as a stop gap I realised it was what I wanted to do.
Q: What are some of the differences between conventional farming and the kind of farming you practice at Dagenham Farm?
A: Organic farming, unlike conventional farming, tries to minimise environmental pollution. On our farm the only pollution comes from the 16 miles I drive once a week to sell the veg. In terms of growing we don't spray crops with pesticides and we feed plants with compost rather than energy hungry man made fertiliser. Thus we avoid polluting our watercourses and wider environment. Another difference is that organic farming involves more people and more labour. This increase in labour adds to a farms diversity. Organic farms tend to have more people, wildlife and varieties of crops making them richly diverse habitats for all.
Q: What kind of impact has the farm had on Dagenham?
A: The farm has had a massive impact. It has provided a place where people can volunteer and get a sense of purpose. The farm gets a lot of support from the community. It gives people access to learning about growing healthy food. Local school children visit the farm. It provides the opportunity for people to learn about food, nature and cycling organic waste on their doorstep. This opportunity would otherwise not be available as there is nothing like it nearby. Our proximity to where people live allows access to these things.
Q: What has surprised you the most since you've been working at the farm?
A: Definitely the amount of time people want to spend at the farm. People really want to access organic food and they want it to be affordable. I assumed it would be hard to sell organic in this borough but the demand is high. Unfortunately right now there aren't enough outlets. Sometimes people pay a premium for organic at a shop but the closer our outlets are to the farm, the more affordable we can make the produce as we do not have to add the costs of packaging and transportation. I want the food produced in the borough to be affordable to the local populace.
Q: Why is it important to support organic farms?
A: Buying local, organic food supports a system of agricultural which has a positive affect on the environment instead of polluting it. The more people that support organic farming the bigger the impact it can have in creating sustainable models of agriculture that can be replicated. We need sustainable models of food production if we are to continue to feed our population.
Q: You mentioned that organic is better for the environment. What kind of impact does a farm like Dagenham farm have on labour?
A: Dagenham farm is part of Growing Communities, an organisation working to create trade models that are fair to producers, such as local box schemes. Re-localising supply chains is part of the way they create transparency in terms of treatment of environment and workers. There was recent media about how much of our salad crops are grown by unfairly treated workers in Southern Spain. When the supply chain is long it is harder to know how people have been treated. Shortening and simplifying the supply chains allows for more transparency regarding how food is grown and how workers are treated. Increasingly large food retailers disconnect us from the treatment of workers and the environment. Places like Dagenham Farm allow consumers to reconnect.
Interested in visiting the farm (map here) and meeting Alice? There is a volunteer day on the second Wednesday of May (13th). Starting in June, volunteer days will be the first Wednesday of every month.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Captain Bob’s Music

At the excellent RAFA club on a Friday night. On tap we have Captain Bob, a light and fruity ale from The Mighty Oak brewing company in Maldon, Essex and using hops from our commonwealth cousins in New Zealand. Once a month, as you may have noticed from our Notices & Events page, the Redbridge Green Fair Music Club put on a show with young, emerging and sometimes local musical talent. And very good it is too.

Here’s All the King’s Daughters, all the way from Amsterdam, stopping off for a gig at Ilford’s very own version of the “Cavern”.

And just to surprise you there is an extra one next week on May 8th featuring HeadSpace & Moorby Jones. Then on Saturday 9th there is the Valentines Mansion May Fair where you will be able to hear Storm in a Teacup and Blackhorse as well as watch Standard Women's Morris, Chingford Morris Dancers and many more attractions. And to round off a post election weekend, on Sunday 10th there is the Music Fest session in the walled garden at Valentines Mansion with another diverse mix of live music combining Indian classical, country blues, pop, ballads, soul, folk and bluegrass.