Tag Archives: Forest Gate

Station update

24 Oct

Forest Gate station entrance Monday 29 October 2018

At long last, the new entrance to Forest Gate station will open next Monday.

Kuhn Way

15 Jun

FGCS site plan

Proposed site plan for Forest Gate Community School. Present location of Kuhn Way footpath highlighted

As I’ve previously blogged, Forest Gate Community School is expanding. It will add an extra 2 forms of entry (60 extra children) each school year from September 2019. 

In order to accommodate the eventual 300 extra students, new classrooms and other infrastructure needs to be built. The school has applied for planning permission for two alternative schemes. Its preferred option would see the closure of part of Kuhn Way, the footpath that currently separates the main school building from an outdoor sports area.

Kuhn Way provides a pedestrian and cycle route directly between Station Road and Forest Lane. Without it, residents in the ‘Lanes’ area north of the school will have to walk around via either Woodgrange Road or Field Rod to access Forest Gate station or the shops. 

The school claims Kuhn Way is dangerous and home to crime and antisocial behaviour. Writing in support of the application, the Head of School says that having

a public walkway though the school [is] …an unusual and inconvenient arrangement.

An inordinate amount of time and resources are spent by the school on monitoring and policing activity in the walk way

and that:

The school, particularly in recent years, has provided a sanctuary for the pupils from the pressures they face in an increasingly dangerous neighbourhood.

This is not a view of Forest Gate shared by the majority of local residents, many of whom who use the walkway on a regular basis and object strongly to the school’s attempt to take it over. One wrote:

claims that the alley is a crime hotspot are … without substance. The crime statistics for the last twelve months do not show excessive issues and due to the way that the statistics are reported, I believe that those recorded as “Around Kuhn Way” do not cover just the alley but also the sections of Kuhn Way which is a road, including those bits running behind the businesses on Forest Lane. As a member of staff at the school pointed out to me, the notion that gangs are regularly passing drugs or weapons to pupils through the fencing along the alley is laughable and completely ignores the extensive stretches of open fencing along the other perimeters of the school.

And, far from being a little-used and crime-infested alley, Kuhn Way

is still used by hundreds of people through the week and at weekends, not only for work – which lots of people use it for because its opposite the station – but for shopping and just going out generally. The people that use it are abled, disabled, young, old, mums with children and many others. This would leave some residents house bound, as the so-called ‘short cuts’ are not short and in another case long and down a very narrow alley. (Link)

This claim of a high level of use is backed up by the Transport Assessment of the proposal, which counted a total of 3,396 pedestrian journeys between 7 am and 9 pm on a typical day. That works out a roughly one every 15 seconds.

And others agree that the idea that it will take elderly residents just an extra 1-2 minutes to use the alternative routes is “ridiculous.” Also, it will cause “enormous inconvenience” to users of Forest Gate station.

A consultation meeting was held in late March, although this appears to me to have only been advertised via the school newsletter, so most residents without a child on roll were not aware of it. Some who attempted to attend say they were prevented from entering the school.

On 19th April the council sent a letter out to residents asking for comments on the version of the plans that included keeping Kuhn Way open. There was no reference to the closure proposal.

Nonetheless, residents are campaigning against the proposal. 

A local resident has collected over 1500 signatures from surrounding streets opposing the closure but this is not yet reflected on the council website despite it having been submitted to them. Flyers have been distributed locally with an update on the situation and local councillors have been lobbied.

The application was expected to come before the Strategic Development Committee on 19th June but now the agenda has been published it is not there. But, as building works are planned start this summer a dec.sion needs to be taken,

Whatever your view of the expansion of Forest Gate school (at a cost of £11.8m), removing public access to Kuhn Way looks like a bad idea. The school can build additional classrooms without doing this. That is the version of the proposal the council should accept.

You can comment on the proposal here.

Hobson’s choice?

13 Jun

Local Labour party members will get to select their candidate for the upcoming Forest Gate North by-election at a special meeting on Thursday. Or at least that’s the theory.

An email all members from Patrick Murphy, chair of Newham Labour’s local campaign forum sets out the timetable:

If you wish to be considered as a candidate for this Election, you are advised of the following timetable:

Applications invited.        10th June.
Close of Applications.     14th June.
Interview Panel.              15th June.
FGN meets to Shortlist   16th June.
Selection of Candidate.  16th June.

Please note that you must have been a Labour Party member for 1 year (cut off date June 10th 2015). 

This has taken some members by surprise. At the last ward meeting Ellie Robinson, whose resignation has triggered the by-election, told them there was no need to discuss the selection process there and then as there was no rush to hold the by-election. And members got an email from Rachel Tripp and Seyi Akiwowo inviting anyone who was interested in standing, or had any questions about what it was like to be a councillor, to get in touch. They said they’d organise a meeting if enough people were interested.

That has obviously now gone by the board. The speed with which the by-election has been called, and the consequent urgency to select a candidate, has left some fearing a stitch-up by the leadership.

But that was always likely anyway, no matter how many local members expressed an interest or however long they took to talk about the process. The local campaign forum – which is a tool of the leadership – will interview all applicants and decide the shortlist of potential candidates to go forward to the branch for selection. Local members will have their choice, but only from options approved by Sir Robin’s lieutenants.

Councillor John Gray, writing on his blog, has tried to reassure members:

I am Vice Chair of the Branch and gave a commitment to members at our last meeting that the branch would do every thing possible to make sure that the selection process is fair, democratic and inclusive. 

Brave words. But in truth there is little that can be done, especially given that nomination papers have to with the council by 4 p.m. on Friday 17th. Any attempt to appeal the process to Labour head office would risk the party having no candidate. That’s simply not going to happen.

In talking to local members about who might put themselves forward four names have come up: 

  • Dr. Martin Edobor, a junior hospital doctor and national chair of the Young Fabians
  • Wendy Mitchell, a former Hackney councillor now living in Forest Gate.
  • Anamul Islam, a trade union activist in the PCS
  • Amanjit Jhund, “Doctor, Entrepreneur and Labour Party Activist”, according to his Twitter bio. Stood in Scotland in the 2015 general election and, er, didn’t win. Also ‘Mr. Ellie Robinson’ (which, sadly, is likely to count against him with Sir Robin at the moment)

Of course there may be other contenders too.

We will have to wait until Friday to find out who get’s the nod. And whoever that is will be odds-on to be our new councillor.


Correction: In the original version of this post I mis-spelled Anamul Islam’s name as Anum Ismal. My apologies to him.

Forest Gate North by-election

10 Jun

The by-election to fill the vacancy left by Ellie Robinson’s resignation will be on Thursday, 14th July 2016.

Nominations are open now and close at 4 p.m. next Friday (June 17th).

More information is in the official notice of election.

London Elects 2016 – Forest Gate results

16 May

The London Elects website has released the results of the recent Mayoral and London Assembly elections (.xlsx) broken down to borough and ward level.

Below are the results for the two Forest Gate wards*. I posted the votes cast in Newham as a whole separately.

Mayor of London

Forest Gate North

Candidate Party 1st Prefs 2nd Prefs
Sian Rebecca Berry Green Party 272 719
David Furness British National Party 16 12
George Galloway Respect (George Galloway) 79 332
Paul Golding Britain First 35 64
Zac Goldsmith Conservative Party 507 247
Lee Harris Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol 36 111
Sadiq Aman Khan Labour Party 2238 642
Ankit Love One Love Party 5 41
Caroline Valerie Pidgeon London Liberal Democrats 95 246
Sophie Walker Women’s Equality Party 65 277
Peter Robin Whittle UK Independence Party (UKIP) 79 143
Prince Zylinski Independent 15 27

Forest Gate South

Candidate Party 1st Prefs 2nd Prefs
Sian Rebecca Berry Green Party 209 531
David Furness British National Party 20 35
George Galloway Respect (George Galloway) 86 449
Paul Golding Britain First 33 50
Zac Goldsmith Conservative Party 497 287
Lee Harris Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol 36 87
Sadiq Aman Khan Labour Party 2359 666
Ankit Love One Love Party 13 39
Caroline Valerie Pidgeon London Liberal Democrats 85 240
Sophie Walker Women’s Equality Party 69 248
Peter Robin Whittle UK Independence Party (UKIP) 50 127
Prince Zylinski Independent 23 27

 

London-wide member

Forest Gate North

Party Votes
Animal Welfare Party 34
Britain First – Putting British people first 36
British National Party 25
Caroline Pidgeon’s London Liberal Democrats 129
Christian Peoples Alliance 55
Conservative Party 312
Green Party – “vote Green on orange” 369
Labour Party 2138
Respect (George Galloway) 91
The House Party – Homes for Londoners 19
UK Independence Party (UKIP) 144
Women’s Equality Party 133

Forest Gate South

Party Votes
Animal Welfare Party 27
Britain First – Putting British people first 32
British National Party 16
Caroline Pidgeon’s London Liberal Democrats 106
Christian Peoples Alliance 59
Conservative Party 419
Green Party – “vote Green on orange” 304
Labour Party 2214
Respect (George Galloway) 122
The House Party – Homes for Londoners 16
UK Independence Party (UKIP) 75
Women’s Equality Party 117

 

City & East constituency member

Forest Gate North

Candidate Party Votes
Elaine Sheila Bagshaw London Liberal Democrats 149
Christopher James Chapman Conservative Party 351
Rachel Collinson Green Party 497
Unmesh Desai Labour Party 2156
Aaron Anthony Jose Hasan D’Souza All People’s Party 18
Amina May Kay Gichinga Take Back the City 38
Peter James Harris UK Independence Party (UKIP) 177
Rayne Mickail Respect (George Galloway) 90

Forest Gate South

Candidate Party Votes
Elaine Sheila Bagshaw London Liberal Democrats 144
Christopher James Chapman Conservative Party 423
Rachel Collinson Green Party 373
Unmesh Desai Labour Party 2264
Aaron Anthony Jose Hasan D’Souza All People’s Party 20
Amina May Kay Gichinga Take Back the City 55
Peter James Harris UK Independence Party (UKIP) 124
Rayne Mickail Respect (George Galloway) 110

 

* excludes postal votes, which London Elects reports as a single block not broken out by ward.

Take it to the limit

13 May

A small earthquake happened in Newham last night. Five local Labour party branches voted for a motion to impose term-limits on directly elected mayors.

Members in Forest Gate North, Forest Gate South, Stratford, Canning Town and Manor Park (Sir Robin’s own ward!) supported a proposition put forward by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy to amend the national rule book:

The Labour Party Rule Book 2016 Chapter 5 Selections, rights and responsibilities of candidates for elected public office.Clause I. General rules for selections for public office. Sub-Clause 1. G. i. Alternative Procedures, reads as follows:

‘For any mayoral selection the NEC may consider the use of primary elections, subject to the absolute power of the NEC to cancel or amend procedure, and subject to:

a. Procedural guidelines set by the NEC.’

Amendment

Add new sub-clause:

b. If a selected candidate is elected for two consecutive terms he/she cannot apply for selection as the Labour candidate for the same mayoral post for the following third term.

Directly-elected mayors were introduced in 2000 and, from the first mayoral elections in 2002 until 2008, the Labour Party rules stipulated that Directly-Elected Mayors who were Labour Party members could not stand for re-election after having served two terms. This time limit was removed on the recommendation of the NEC Local Government Committee in 2008 – in good time to allow the likes of Sir Robin and Hackney’s Jules Pipe to be re-selected for a third term.

As we know to our cost in Newham, directly-elected Mayors have presidential-type executive powers. These are not always balanced by adequate scrutiny from councillors – in Newham they are barely subject to any at all. 

Sir Robin has been in charge of our borough since 1995. First as leader of the council and since 2002 as mayor. In the interests of healthy democratic local governance, a single individual should not hold these powers for so long. 

Woodgrange Road redevelopment

7 Mar

E7 nowandthen 2016 Mar 07

The developer is proposing to replace 12 existing retail units and the small number of residential units above them with 1,650 square metres of retail space and 64 new homes. These will include a number of affordable and family-sized units.

They promise high quality design “to reflect the ambitions of the community,” along with green roofs and cycle storage.

It’s a less ambitious proposal than Obsidian’s, which would have completely destroyed the centre of Forest Gate, but will still have a huge impact on the look of Woodgrange Road. I’ll be interested to see what the drawings look like.

 

Changing London

30 Jun

Author, journalist and blogger Cory Doctorow is leaving London and taking his family to Los Angeles:

The short version is, we want to live in a city whose priorities are around making a livable place to work, raise our family, and run our respective small businesses. But London is a city whose two priorities are turning itself into a playground for the most corrupt global elites who are turning neighbourhoods into soulless collections of empty, high-rise safe-deposit boxes in the sky; and continuing to encourage the feckless, reckless criminality of the finance industry (these two facts are not unrelated) …

… We’ve seen the writing on the wall: this is not a city for families. It’s not a city for people running small firms. It’s not a city for people who earn their living in the arts. We’ve given it the best we have, and we’re getting out because we can.

On Thursday (2nd July) Forest Gate North Labour party is hosting a public meeting at Coffee7 on ‘Changing London’. The city is in a turbo-capitalist induced death spiral. Unless we take action now London will become a hollowed out zombie city.

The invisible woman

15 May

Although some pitifully inadequate details of what the mayor’s chums are meant to be doing for their ‘special responsibility allowances’ have now been published, there is one group of advisors whose role remains a complete mystery: the lead community councillors.

There are nine of them:

  • Beckton – Cllr Ayesha Chowdhury (Beckton)
  • Custom House & Canning Town – Cllr Idris Ibrahim (Green St West)
  • East Ham – Cllr Lakmini Shah (East Ham South)
  • Forest Gate – Cllr Rohima Rahman (Green St East)
  • Green Street – Cllr Hanif Abdulmuhit (Green St West)
  • Manor Park – Cllr Salim Patel (Manor Park)
  • Plaistow – Cllr Forhad Hussain (Plaistow North)*
  • Royal Docks – Cllr Patrick Murphy (Royal Docks)
  • Stratford & West Ham – Cllr Mas Patel (Forest Gate South)

Each one pulls in an extra £6,679 a year. According to the published pay scale that means they are meant to spend a full day a week on their community leading duties.

As Sir Robin endlessly reminds us, Newham is facing the most savage cuts in funding of any council in the country, while at the same time having to cope with expanding demand for services. How can he justify handing out such large sums for vague, undefined, and apparently unaccountable responsibilities?

Forest Gate residents will be especially bemused. Despite having six councillors of our own, the lead councillor represents a ward in Green Street – where she also lives. What advice or insight could she possibly offer the mayor – who lives locally himself and has done for 20 years?

I’d recognise any of the Forest Gate councillors if I saw them in the street (or the Forest Tavern or CoffeE7, or at the station). In fact, I regularly do. But Cllr Rahman could punch me in the face and I’d have no idea who she was.

That may also be true of some of her colleagues. According to council records, In the 2014/15 municipal year, she turned up to just three of the eight meetings of the Health and Social Care scrutiny commission she sits on and not a single cabinet meeting. She attended four full meetings of council, although the minutes do not record her uttering a single word.

* Cllr Hussain also has two other mayoral appointments: Cabinet Member for Commercial Opportunities and Deputy Cabinet Lead for Building Communities. He therefore gets an allowance of £33,395 for working 5 days a week.

13 questions about the RPZ extension

30 Jun
Capel Road parking
06:40 a.m. on Capel Road – if there’s a problem, it isn’t commuters parking for the Overground
 
So that the council’s officers can be prepared at the drop-in session on Thursday, here are the questions I will be asking about the proposed extension to the Forest Gate residents parking zone (RPZ):
  1. How many residents have requested this and over what period were the requests made?
  2. To what extent have local councillors been involved in developing the proposals and the decision to hold a consultation?
  3. If I have a permit can I park anywhere in the RPZ, or just on my street or my bit of the zone?
  4. Will parking bays be one big bay or marked individual bays?
  5. What guarantees are there that the free first permit per household will continue to be free in perpetuity?
  6. Can a resident’s application for a permit be declined? If so, on what grounds?
  7. Who within the local authority can access the database of residents’ vehicle ownership details and on what terms?
  8. Will residents’ data be sold or otherwise made available to third parties?
  9. Has an assessment been made of the impact on local shops and businesses, particularly as a result of the Sebert Road extension?
  10. Are residents on streets adjoining the RPZ extension, but not part of it, being consulted? If not, why not?
  11. Why are there no public meetings being held, just a single ‘drop-in session’ at The Gate?
  12. When will the outcome of the consultation be known and will all of the responses be published?

and unlucky 13 – if, after a period of operation, residents decide they don’t like the RPZ and want it removed, what mechanism exists to request this?

UPDATE 1:

Two excellent additional questions via a resident in a street not included in the proposal but likely to be affected by it:

  • How will Newham monitor fraud, especially regarding the misuse of visitor permits; and
  • How did the parking design team come to the conclusion that the far ends of Sebert, Hampton and Osborne Roads, which are more than half a mile from the town centre should be included in the proposal but not side roads in Forest Gate village (between Sebert and Capel Roads) which are much closer?

UPDATE 2:

From Newham council’s Parking Policy on RPZ consultations: “there must be a minimum of 20% of respondents, where 55% or more must be in favour for a scheme to progress.”

So another question:

  • Is the 20% is counted across the whole proposed extension or area-by-area: if the Woodgrange Estate part of the scheme gets a big response but the Capel Road/Woodford Road/Chestnut Avenue bit gets none, do we still end up with an RPZ in our area, or does it just go ahead on Woodgrange?