Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Mini Holland - Lea Bridge Ward Forum

Subject: MiniHolland, Lea Bridge Forum and villages

Nah, Simon - 
what I meant was that some local residents at Wednesday's Lea Bridge Forum complained - as we do always do! - that these schemes are always dreamt up to near-feasibility stage (I can understand why, if it's a tight deadline to bid for a grant) without local public knowledge or participation, and consultation then tends to take the form of "this is what we are going to do to your neighbourhood or area; what do you think of it?", rather than those living there participating and adding in-depth local knowledge at the outset.

Residents (I should point out I'd primarily gone for the first presentation, an update on Lea Bridge Station, and I no longer live in that Ward) were demanding to know who was now going to be consulted, and how. One elderly lady got quite irate at constantly being told to look up this or that URL on the WF website for information, and said she has no wish to use the internet; and one person pointed out that a lot of the "cycling commuters" on LBR do not live in the locality or even the Borough, but pass through regularly.
Chris Bowers said the Council would consult residents and local businesses, as well as cyclists using the road, starting this month (he had earlier shown a powerpoint slide of a cyclists consultation by WF on LBR - possibly near Lammas Road - with the date 6th January prominently displayed on the booth and the leaflets, though! Can anyone enlighten me about that?).
I suspect Chris didn't bother to mention WFCC specifically as his Highways dept are presumably already in contact with WFCC via other channels. I wondered if it was worth giving a plug, but there were only two other cyclists present - a prominent local activist and a young woman from what I think of as "the green nest" (David H's neighbourhood, presumably now redesignated as " Sybourn Village "! - see below) - so I didn't waste the meeting's time potentially opening another area of debate.
I did ask if the Stakeholders Forum could be broadened to allow for input from these Ward Community Forums, and Chris said the current SF was an overarching, strategic body for the whole MiniHolland scheme, and that a new SF would be set up specifically to look at the LBR scheme (and Leyton end of Markhouse Road ).
I gather that will include Lea Bridge, Hoe Street, Wood Street, Forest and Markhouse Wards - however, the scheme is not being worked up on a Ward basis. The officers have arbitrarily divided up the MH part of the borough on an American-style grid pattern, and are lumping neighbourhoods between main roads together as "villages" (eg "Markhouse Village" - it is quite bizarre and I can't remember their names!), which will form the basis for micro-consultations.
I think something like this was done in Walthamstow Village during the MH trial there as well. (Perhaps someone could confirm or deny that and say whether it worked effectively or was instrumental in the divisiveness and the rancour between different small neighbourhoods that the trial caused.)
Anyway, it will be very confusing to Walthamstonians if this potty neologism actually catches on in everyday life rather than being just a planning tool - instead of "The Village" being part of Walthamstow, it would become known as "Walthamstow" (as it originally was, I suppose) and just be one of an agglomeration of several such "villages".
I suggest the Walthamstow Village Association should consider reverting to the area's historic nomenclature of "Church End" now, while there's still time for us to get used to it again!

( Coppermill Village , MiniHolland Hamlets-super-Lea).

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