Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Election lobbying starts here

Notes of London Green Spaces Friends Groups Network (LFGN)

This group represents about 500 London Friends of Parks groups. The main topic on the agenda was to prepare for the coming Local and MEP elections on the 15th May. The final nominations have to be received by the 24th April. As these are not GLA elections, but Borough and European, it was felt that each group needs to lobby its local candidates about local issues.

One of the key issues is to start campaigning to get funding for parks to be statutory. Currently with stretched budgets council’s have to protect funding of statutory services which means cut backs for parks and open spaces is inevitable. In Waltham Forest the Greenspace department was scrapped a couple of years ago and now there is no one person responsible for parks.

The LFGN thought a good lobbying issue was to ask the MEP candidates to change the Euro law to make park funding statutory. Another idea was to lobby council candidates, in wards where there are parks, and ask them to safeguard the funding. In addition it was suggested the new Community Infrastructure Levy money should be used for parks in the area that the development is taking place.

It is important to keep the profile of parks high on the political agenda otherwise they will become neglected and we will see all the good works of the last few years unravel. It is important all parks try and achieve a standard which currently is the Green Flag award.

Time ran out before the other major agenda item could be discussed. This concerns the larger parks like Hackney Marshes and Victoria Park which are used by huge pop concerts closing off most of the open space for weeks on end. This does huge environmental damage including noise pollution. This is another area to lobby candidates on to find ways of stopping local authorities seeing the open space as a cash cow.

Once again despite the huge area represented it was a very useful and enlightening meeting.

24% pay rise for what?

Clyde Loakes

Runner-up Waltham Forest councillor Clyde Loakes, whose address to residents on the benefits of the council’s new anti dog-fouling policy was supported by a dog called Seamus, who crapped on the hall floor during the councillor’s speech. Winner Rugbycouncil’s planning committee chairman Peter Butlin, who overturned colleagues’ refusal of an application to breed 120,000 rats a year (as snake food for pet shops) by his farmer friend Robert Spencer.

Grow your own beer

Grow your own hops for an E17 classic ale!

Walthamstow beer

The Essex Brewery Tap

Wildflower Planting Day

Local History Group Meeting

Dear fellow local history enthusiast
The local history societies and groups in Waltham Forest meet again on Tuesday 18th February, 7.30pm in the Red Room at the Rose & Crown, Hoe Street, Walthamstow.  There is a lot we could discuss.  Attached are some possibilities.
Hoping to see many of you there - and do please pass on an invitation to anyone you think may be interested.
David Boote
Membership Secretary
and Co-ordinator of the Research and Publications Working Group
Leyton & Leytonstone Historical Society

Lee Valley Leisure Trust Ltd

Subject: Lee Valley Regional Park Authority Update
Date: 7 February 2014 12:19:20 GMT

I am writing to inform you that the Board of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is considering a change to its operational model as part of a review of how it can utilise public funds as effectively as possible to ensure that the Regional Park remains a fantastic destination and an asset for the region.

On 27 January, the Authority’s Board reduced the levy for 2014/15 by 2%. This reduction means that over the past five years we have cut the levy – which forms part of the council tax paid by residents of London, Essex and Hertfordshire – by 25% in real terms. It is now at the same level as it was in 2006, at £1.03 per head of population per annum and is less than half the maximum we are allowed to charge.

We are, of course, very aware of the pressures our contributing authorities are under and for the first time ever, LVRPA has this year managed to raise more funding from our own activities – admission fees, commercial income, investments – than we have raised through the levy.

It is in response to the prevailing financial situation facing local authorities and as part of our aspiration for the Lee Valley Regional Park to be a world class visitor destination that a new operational model is being considered. This has been given additional impetus as we look to reduce our liability for additional business rates for our two new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park legacy venues.

The rates bill for these – Lee Valley VeloPark and Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre – is estimated to be £1.5 million, giving the Authority a total rates bill of over £2.5 million. In 2014/15 we will be operating at a substantial deficit, met from reserves, but we can only fund this arrangement for one year. The rates bill equates to approximately 10% of our gross budget and around 20% of the money we raise from the levy. We could legally raise this extra money by increasing the levy by 21%, but in the current financial climate with our precepted Boroughs having to manage significant budget reductions, this is not seen as a realistic option.

On 27 February our Board will be considering entering into a contract with a new Trust, Lee Valley Leisure Trust Limited, for the management of our sport and leisure venues, particularly our London 2012 legacy venues, enabling us to receive mandatory 80% rate relief. This is a model many local authorities have used.

The Authority is legally entitled to pursue such an option under the Lee Valley Regional Park Act 1966 which led to the creation of Lee Valley Regional Park. The Act stipulates that the Authority can exercise its remit to provide leisure, sport and recreation, including nature conservation either by itself or by acting in partnership with other individuals or bodies.

This is already an important part of the Authority’s approach to how it runs the Regional Park with a number of third party bodies delivering various services. For example, our parklands are maintained by a contractor through one of the most cost effective contracts of its type in the UK.

If the intention to manage the Authority’s venues through the Lee Valley Leisure Trust is agreed by our Board in February then the market will be notified through a Contract Award Notice. Through this operational model our aim is to gain a full understanding of the business models for our new and complex legacy venues in particular. Within 3-5 years we plan to go through a full procurement exercise with a long term management contract the objective.

A final decision on awarding a contract to the Lee Valley Leisure Trust is expected to be taken by the Authority Board in June 2014. However, at the moment  we are still discussing how the Trust may function, precisely what it might be responsible for and the nature of its relationship with the Authority. In addition to securing mandatory rate relief the Trust model also brings other financial benefits relating to VAT.

This is an important issue for the Authority and I would welcome your views which can be sent to ahead of the 27 February Board meeting, or later as they will be considered ahead of other monthly meetings of our Executive Committee and right up until the final decision in June.

Whilst a new operating model is currently a major focus for the Authority, we are pursuing a range of other initiatives to further maximise income from our London 2012 venues and other sites around the Park. The focus here is on further investment in our sport and leisure facilities and commercial income through sponsorship and other ventures. Over the next six months the Authority will develop a business strategy which will provide the detail of the projects and initiatives it will be pursuing over the next few years.

With around 5 million visits per year from across London, Essex, Hertfordshire and further afield, Lee Valley Regional Park is a popular and unique destination offering a mix of sport, nature and leisure activities. The Authority is playing a leading role in delivering Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and a London 2012 legacy – projects of national importance, and we have guaranteed the future of three London 2012 legacy venues which we own and will operate within our current levy policy.

We are committed to ensuring that Lee Valley Regional Park continues to deliver genuine benefits for all communities in the most financially efficient way possible.

Derrick Ashley
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
Myddelton House, Bulls Cross, Enfield, Middlesex EN2 9HG
Telephone: 01992 717711 Fax: 01992 788623

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Environment Agency

If we do start to flood here is where the information will be found

River Lea

Oasis all dried up!

Oasis Free School Withdrawn: Update 
Regular readers of this e-newsletter will be familiar with the application by the Walthamstow Parents Group and Oasis Schools chain to set up a Secondary Free School in Walthamstow which was approved by the Secreary of State last year. This week I received notification from the Department for Education that recent admissions data now indicates that additional secondary provision is not required within Walthamstow until September 2018. The proposers of this school have therefore, in consultation with the local authority, decided to withdraw their application and so it will no longer be going ahead. This is the only information I have to date on this application but if and when I receive details on this or any other Free School application for Walthamstow I will share this via this e-newsletter service. 

Checking out the Banners

William Morris Gallery

Support the Friends of Epping Forest

Friends of Epping Forest

WF Business Board

Waltham Forest Business Board

Deer Statues

Planning Application 2014/0211 by the Conservators of Epping Forest, if successful, will allow these models to sit outside the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge.


Friday, 7 February 2014

Views of Epping Forest


Tree Workshops

Sunday 9th February    -      Tree Pruning Workshop  1 
Abney Park Nature Reserve
Learn about tree pruning, woodland ecology and specimen trees.
Wear warm clothes and strong footware.
MAXIMUM 12 people. Booking essential(
Meet at the main Stamford Hill Gates.
Sunday 16th February    -      Tree Pruning Workshop  2 
Abney Park Nature Reserve
Learn about tree pruning, woodland ecology and specimen trees.
Wear warm clothes and strong footware.
MAXIMUM 12 people. Booking essential(
Meet at the main Stamford Hill Gates. 
Saturday 22nd February    -      Fruit Tree Pruning  Workshop  1
South Millfields Orchard
Learn about fruit tree pruning and help maintain Hackney's biggest orchard.
Wear warm clothes and strong footware.
MAXIMUM 12 people. Booking essential(
Meet at the orchard. 
Sunday 23rd February    -      Tree Pruning Workshop  3
Abney Park Nature Reserve
Learn about tree pruning, woodland ecology and specimen trees.
Wear warm clothes and strong footware.
MAXIMUM 12 people. Booking essential(
Meet at the main Stamford Hill Gates.
Russell Miller
07758 326530

Ear Rings from the WMG

Ear Rings

The Scene's Empire Screen 3

Screen 3

Heritage Planning Case Database


Old bicycles wanted

Hey ! We need ur old bikes! If you have any unwanted bikes our 14-16 learners want to fix them! spread the word!

Transistion Network

Transition Network

LVRPA changes

From Katy Andrews:

Please would everyone also note that the LVRPA are going to be voting to change their status from a publicly accountable body to a provident society on the 27th February, and have already got the required three Trustees.

The Authority have today voted in favour of making yet another cut to the amount of precept to be collected from the London Boroughs - equitable perhaps for those in south and west London, but ominous in terms of turning what was meant to be a public asset in the form of England's first Regional Park into a privately-owned and unaccountable business venture.  

The move was oppposed by Labour and LibDem members, but the Conservatives have an inbuilt majority on the Authority.  In fact, the Regional Park's administrators seem to have wanted to keep the precept as it was in the last financial year (itself effectively a cut, due to the rate of inflation), but an amendment by the Tories saw the amount of the precept cut by 2%.  

It is to be presumed that the probable resulting shortfall in funds may entail the selling off of various assets owned by the Regional Park Authority, and (worryingly) yet more pressure on them to develop the green open spaces that they are supposedly entrusted under the 1967 Parliamentary Act to ensure are protected from development.

Become a Friend of The Mill

The Mill

E17 Art Trail

E17 Art Trail

Rethinking Parks

Rethinking Parks