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.

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?”

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”.

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.

Excessive noise levels prompt industrial action

Central Line drivers who are members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) will take industrial action next month following a dispute about noise levels.

The Jubilee, Central, Northern and Victoria lines are set to be affected after 95% of union members supported the action.

“It is appalling that RMT driver members have had to resort to a programme of industrial action in order to force London Underground to take the issue of excessive track noise seriously,” said Mick Cash, General Secretary of the RMT.

“This is an issue that impacts not only on our members but on the travelling public as well and the union is absolutely determined to ensure that the company don’t drag their feet for a moment longer.”

Drivers will “drive trains in manual mode at an appropriate reduced speed to mitigate the creation of excessive noise and to alleviate the distraction, discomfort and anxiety caused in the affected areas” claim the RMT.

Transport for London (TfL) have said that the health and safety of staff and customers are its “first priority” and that they have “already agreed to provide a broader range of ear protection to drivers who wish to use it alongside plans for longer-term solutions to this complex issue.”

Noise levels have been a problem on the Central Line for several years as reported by the Ilford Recorder in 2017 and The Wanstead Post in 2018.

The industrial action is due to start on Thursday 10 October 2019.

Community group calls for cleaner greener Wanstead

A new initiative has been launched to encourage residents, businesses, organisations and Redbridge Council to create a “cleaner greener Wanstead”.

The community-led movement focuses on five priorities including cleaner journeys; more plants and trees; less plastic, waste and litter; sustainable homes and premises and living lower impact lives.

“Here in Wanstead our children are growing up breathing filthy air. We’re producing vast amounts of waste which has to be shipped abroad to be processed. We’re gradually losing the leafy green streets that make Wanstead special,” the group claim.

The Cleaner Greener Wanstead website suggests ways to be more environmentally friendly including never leaving car engines idling, filling outdoor spaces with flowers, planting more trees, carrying reusable water bottles and buying renewable energy.

Neighbouring borough Waltham Forest recently declared a “climate emergency” and resolved to launch a Climate Change Commission to “help shape our local response to this global challenge and to produce a set of policy ‘asks’ for our regional and national politicians”. The resolution followed protests by activists including international movement Extinction Rebellion.

Further information about Cleaner Greener Wanstead can be found here: https://www.cleanergreenerwanstead.org/

Wanstead makes the national news

The mysterious appearance and disappearance of a metal plaque on a bench in Wanstead has generated national news coverage.

The BBC and Sky have featured stories about a memorial to former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein which was attached to a wooden bench outside the Oxfam charity shop in the High Street.

Local resident and journalist Victoria Richards spotted the plaque which read: “In Loving Memory Of Saddam Hussein 1937-2006”.

She subsequently tweeted a picture of the tribute and her post was retweeted over 5,000 times and received more than 32,000 likes.

Following the furore the plaque was quickly taken down by Redbridge Council.

“We didn’t give permission for this to be put up and it has been removed,” a spokesperson for the Council said.

Anger and despair as CAA backs flight path changes

HACAN

Local residents have reacted with anger to a report published by the Civil Aviation Authority which backs controversial changes to London City Airport flight paths.

The report assessed the impact of more concentrated flight paths which were introduced in 2016 and recommended that they remain in place.

While acknowledging there had been “both negative and positive impacts”, the CAA felt there had been a negligible change in noise levels for residents living underneath the flight paths which direct planes over Wanstead.

The CAA did ask London City Airport to examine why the proposed fuel and CO2 savings from planes following the new flight paths were less than predicted and queried why aircraft were flying slightly off the predicted routes.

“There is anger and despair that the CAA has backed concentrated flight paths,” said John Stewart, Chair of HACAN East, the campaign body representing residents affected by flights from London City Airport.

“Many people hoped that this report would end two years of misery and they would be able to get their lives back. This decision is a cruel blow to them.”

“This will not be the end of the matter. We had support from a wide range of politicians in calling for an end to concentration. These included the Mayor of London, leading members of the Greater London Authority and lots of local councillors. We will be liaising with them about next steps.”