GOOD NEWS FOR BEES
The pioneering Seeds for Snaresbrook campaign – which launched last year by asking residents to “adopt” tree pits near their houses and then to plant bee-friendly flowers – is again offering people free seeds.
Ann Williams, co-ordinator of the Wanstead and Woodford Friends of the Earth says the group still has seeds for sowing in April in spare pieces of ground, including people’s gardens. And she adds that people who live in Redbridge but are outside Snaresbrook ward can also request seeds. Anyone interested should get in touch via their website – Wanstead and Woodford Friends of the Earth – or their Facebook page.
The Times has reported that more people are keeping hedgehogs as pets. Ideas of fleas aside itâ€™s an interesting idea, but even if not for you, itâ€™s the time of year when we mount our traditional Hedgehog Spotting Collective. Please let us know if you see any hedgehogs in Wanstead, dead or alive. Photos and videos welcome too. In previous years weâ€™ve proved that there are still hogs alive, though sightings remain rare.
Regular readers will know of Wansteadium’s affection for hedgehogs. Last summer we compiled a survey of readers’ sightings, ending up with two apparent clusters: one around Colvin Road on the Nightingale Estate and one around the George Green.
The first sighting of the year is reported by Frances Anderson who says her son and his friend saw a hedgehog on Wanstead Flats near the area opposite St Gabriel’s church.
We hope, though, that this is just the beginning. Keep your ears open for that distinctive snuffling sound in the late evening, and please do file a report. You can use this form.
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â€¢ Plans for a homeless hostel on Cambridge Park were approved by the Redbridge Planning Committee. More than 150 Wanstead residents had opposed the plan. Voting on the committee was split, but the plan went through on the chair’s casting vote. Opponent Mick Goodenough told Wansteadium legal advice was being taken with a view to mounting a judicial reviewÂ indicated a judicial review of the decision was unlikely to succeed.
â€¢ Litter bins on Christchurch Green are too small for the amount of litter, the Wanstead Society has told Redbridge Council. That, or foxes, or something else, Â might be the reason for the regular sight of overflowing litter, though tweeter Paddy Fantastic (below) has other thoughts. The council says it will replace the bins, when the current ones wear out.
Hedgehogs could be wiped out in Britain within 15 years, a study has warned. They are on a list of the 10 indigenous species suffering the biggest decline in numbers in recent decades, along with the cuckoo, left, turtle dove, brown hare and Scottish wildcat. According to the Eden Species Report, which measures native speciesâ€™ populations and rates of decline, there are about 1m hedgehogs left in the UK â€” a decline of about 25% over the past 10 years. In some parts of Britain the fall could be as high as 50%. With populations becoming more isolated as a result of the decrease in numbers, naturalists fear that the species will struggle to maintain a sufficiently large gene pool to sustain a healthy and viable population.
Our lengthy two-month silence has been the result of an uncharacteristic period of reflection and a temporary vow of silence. Matters under contemplation were: the effect on society of social media; the future of democracy and community; civility; hedgehogs.
Apologies for our impromptu sabbatical, and especially for people who contacted us with tips for news items – we’ll be picking up on some of them now. (You can always contact us at email@example.com) And thank you to those of you who asked about our health.
In the eight years of this website, we have never taken a political line on any subject, except perhaps the welfare of hedgehogs. There are plenty of issues we care about – a healthy balance of shops in the High Street, for example – but no overtly political positions.
That is until today. We’re breaking with tradition to take a very clear position about the proposals for changes to the parking rules for Wanstead.
Redbridge Council must back down now and do the proper consultation on these proposals which it should have done in the first place.
We know that opinions on the matter among Wansteadium readers are divided, and that there are pros and cons to the proposals. For example, having a mechanism to stop people parking all day long on the High Street while they walk to the Tube to go to Westfield would, in our view, be a good thing. But stopping people parking on roads as far away from the High Street as Overton Drive does not appear to have been thought through.
But regardless of pros and cons, what seems to unite nearly everyone is outrage at the way the proposals are being imposed on Wanstead with no opportunity for debate or consultation. The leader of the council, Cllr Jas Athwal, who has up until now struck us as a fairly decent sort of bloke, seems to be revelling in his outright refusal to consider any form of consultation.
Pretty much the first thing the Labour administration did on taking control of Redbridge Council following the elections in 2014 was to scrap the system of area committees. These were bi-monthly meetings at which residents in Redbridge boroughs could listen to and question their own local councillors and council officers. The committees were replaced with a series of inadequate borough-wide forums at which there is no opportunity for Wanstead residents to question Wanstead councillors or council officers about Wanstead issues.
Previous attempts at parking reform were just the kind of subjects that were discussed at these meetings – and of course people felt strongly about them. Cllr Athwal’s verdict? The “Tories… just wilted under pressure from residents – that is something I will not do”.
But with no meaningful local meetings, no consultation, and no debate, it does make one wonder if Cllr Athwal would be so reckless in an area which had more than just a couple of Labour councillors?
We have just one question for him: what do you have to lose by doing a consultation in the proper manner? The proposals might even be improved by some public debate – after all, the 0930-1030 “residents only” parking restriction in Wanstead streets came as the direct result of a suggestion at an area committee. Wansteadium knows, because we were there when it happened.
Unless Redbridge Council undertakes to do the proper consultation, it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that this scheme is nothing to do with improving parking – it’s simply an easy way to raise cash for the council. For a political party to do that in an area where it doesn’t stand to make significant electoral losses would just be shabby. It’s time to show that that’s not the case.