Wanstead favours a longer school day

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Wanstead residents have narrowly bucked the national trend by voting in favour of extending the school day to help children catch up after Covid.

Forty-one percent (41%) of respondents to a Wanstead Community Forum Facebook poll wanted to extend the school day with 35% against after schools were closed for most pupils for much of 2020.

This compares to a YouGov poll for The Times newspaper which found 60% opposed longer hours while 30% agreed with extending the school day.

The Times has set up a new Education Commission to examine the future of education. The panel includes former Labour MP Tristram Hunt; Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow; and children’s author Sir Michael Morpurgo. The Commission will run for one year and publish a final report in June 2022.

Wanstead Church School was rated outstanding after an inspection by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) in 2017 while Wanstead High School was rated good in 2019.

Majority of residents want face-to-face GP consultations

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New research has found that most Wanstead residents would prefer an online booking system but a face-to-face consultation when visiting their doctor.

Sixty-two percent of respondents to a Facebook poll wanted to book online but meet in person, while 25% preferred a triage system in which they completed an online form and their GP decided whether a face-to-face appointment was necessary.

The findings follow recent debate in the media after patients expressed frustration about not being able to book a face-to-face consulation with GPs during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Daily Telegraph has reported that following the outcry Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS Medical Director for Primary Care, and Ed Waller, Director of Primary Care, have written to GPs outlining new guidance. The Telegraph claims the letter states:

“GP practices must all ensure they are offering face-to-face appointments.

“While the expanded use of video, online and telephone consultations can be maintained where patients find benefit from them, this should be done alongside a clear offer of appointments in person.

“Practices should respect preferences for face-to-face care.”

A review on the NHS website dated 17 March 2021 for The Wanstead Place Surgery states:

“In response to a query I’d submitted to the practice I was phoned by a doctor, at the appointed time. The conversation was kind, thorough, informative and unrushed and I was asked if there was anything else that was worrying me.”

A comment dated 16 October 2020 states:

“Since you can not get to see any doctor but have to wait for a phone call the service is very poor.”

A review posted on the 16 April 2021 for The Evergreen Surgery on Wanstead High Street states:

“I have visited this practice a few times over the years as an emergency patient and more recently had my 2 Covid injections there. I cannot praise this surgery enough.”

A comment dated 17 March 2021 claims:

“Reception staff are rude and make assumptions without asking questions…Doctors are lovely, if you can get near them.”

Following news of the updated NHS guidance, Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said:

“Patients have made clear how difficult they have been finding access to GP services, and that most commonly they clearly prefer to see their GP in person. We called for the restoration of in-person appointments as the default option when we published our second Pandemic Patient Experience report, which showed starkly how patients have been struggling to access primary care in a way that meets their needs.

“It will be a great relief to many patients to know that their GP should now unquestionably be offering face to face appointments. We saw how media reports of our findings clearly resonated with patients and arose strong feelings. We hope that many patients will now be able to rebuild their relationships with their GPs and benefit from the assurance that will bring them.”

Thousands sign petition against allotment takeover

A petition against plans to take over allotments in Redbridge Lane West has received thousands of signatures.

Plot holders launched action after Cadent, the UK’s largest gas distribution network, announced plans to take over the site to complete “upgrade” work. The proposals involve the storage of sheds and equipment for a period of two years and the creation of a car park for contractors.

The petition on the Change.org website calls on Redbridge Council to reject the plans which allotment owners claim would destroy plots and the biodiverse habitat.

Jason Edwards, who started the petition, writes that plot holders at Redbridge Lane West Allotments are a “diverse and friendly community” and the site hosts a “fantastic charity project, Sprout There!, which for many years has been doing invaluable therapeutic work with people with learning disabilities”.

In support of the campaign, one signatory writes: “These allotments are a valuable community resource that delivers on all eco friendly credentials. Why would we allow a large company to destroy them?”

Windrush Community Fund

A new fund has launched to raise awareness and support engagement among those eligible for the Government’s Windrush Compensation Schemes.

Charitable, community and grassroots organisations that work with affected communities can bid for an award between £2,500 to £25,000 to help ensure all people affected by Windrush are aware of the support available and are not missing out on the schemes.

The Home Office fund has been designed with the Windrush Cross-Government Working Group and will be administered by Voice4Change England. It has been set up to encourage applications from those organisations that are led by or work with affected communities who faced difficulties demonstrating their lawful status in the UK and suffered losses as a result. This covers people who settled in the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1 January 1973 and people of any nationality who were settled before the end of 1988.

To find out more please visit:


Many feel concerned at night

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A majority of people do not feel safe at night in Wanstead, according to a new poll.

Seventy-six (76%) percent of respondents to a survey conducted on Facebook said they did not feel safe walking alone at night in Wanstead.

The findings come after the disappearance of a woman in South London which has prompted many women to share their experiences and concerns about walking alone in the capital at night.

In comments underneath the Wanstead Community Forum Facebook poll, members shared their own experiences. One reported being followed while walking their dogs while another was “catcalled” on the High Street. A resident also reported abuse being directed at members of the LGBT community.

The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has acknowledged that women do not feel safe on streets in the capital. He told LBC radio:

“It’s really important that people of my gender understand that if you’re a woman or a girl your experience of our city in any public space, whether it’s in the workplace, on the streets and public transport, is very different to if you are a man or a boy. It’s really important that people like me in positions of influence understand and take steps to address that”.

Redbridge Council plans chocolate monitoring

An eagle-eyed Councillor from Fairlop Ward has spotted an important announcement about a major new committee being set up by Redbridge Council.

The Chocolate Monitoring Committee was included in a list of Current committees alongside the Education Scrutiny Panel and the Health and Wellbeing Board on the Redbridge Council website.

Twitter user RuthAtFairlop tweeted a screengrab and commented: “I’m so intrigued to see what the ‘Chocolate Monitoring Committee’ does, I wonder how much this little escapade costs LBR”.

Redbridge Council responded apologising and explaining it was a test page. The Labour Leader of the Council, Jas Athwal, also contributed to the message thread humorously tweeting: “There is a long queue to be on this committee.”

Sadly, rumours Redbridge residents were to be issued samples as part of the initiative have also proved to be unfounded.

Covid-19 lockdown restrictions

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According to media reports this morning there appears to be some confusion around the current rules. A summary of Government guidance is:

You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

You should follow this guidance immediately. This is the law.

Leaving home

You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:

*shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
*go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
*exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
*meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
*seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
attend education or childcare – for those eligible

If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local – unless it is necessary to go further, for example to go to work. Stay local means stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live.

If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work.

The full guidance can be found here.

Christmas food binned

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Thousands of tonnes of waste has been thrown away following the Christmas festivities, it has been revealed.

More than 50,000 tonnes of leftover Christmas dinners have been dumped according to an online survey carried out by recycling firm TradeWaste.co.uk.

Respondents were asked about the contents of their Christmas bins to produce an indication of the amount of waste created across the UK.

Nearly 5,000 tonnes of leftover mince pies and 2,000 tonnes of cheese has been disposed of, as well as 17,444 tonnes of Christmas wrapping paper, 12,500 tonnes of Christmas decorations and 68,488 miles of broken Christmas lights.

“Even with a slightly toned-down Christmas this year, we all know how full the bins get after Christmas. It is now clear the huge environmental impact all this waste has,” explains Charlotte Green from TradeWaste.co.uk.

Other figures include 141,525 tonnes of food packaging and 30,000 tonnes of Christmas cards.