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Recorder letters: Fairlop Waters and mobile parking payments

PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 October 2018

Ron Jeffries at the proposed site for the gravel haul road. Picture: KEN MEARS

Ron Jeffries at the proposed site for the gravel haul road. Picture: KEN MEARS

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Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Road will seriously harm Fairlop

Patsy Whiteside, chairman, Barkingside 21, wrote to Cllr Athwal:

We took our three-year-old grandson to Fairlop Waters so that he could run and jump about and we could all blow away the cobwebs.

Whenever we visit Fairlop Waters, we reflect on the joy of having a such a resource right on our doorstep, so to speak.

At any time of the year, there are always people out enjoying the fresh air, the children’s activity areas, the café, the view across the lake - in fact all that the park has to offer. The air is noticeably less polluted, which reassures us for the health of the many children we encounter every time we visit.

It therefore seems extremely strange to us that, when the local authority has spent a great deal of money and energy creating this first class amenity enjoyed by so many people, it should even remotely contemplate allowing a private company to use even the smallest part of it to run convoys of lorries backwards and forwards, disrupting the habitat of a number of creatures not seen anywhere in this or neighbouring boroughs, polluting the air and shattering the peace and tranquillity. It would be an act of vandalism.

We know that all local authorities are struggling with their budgets, and that the rent paid for the lease of that part of Fairlop Waters would doubtless be a useful addition to your coffers, but I don’t think you realise quite how many people would be affected if you allow the haul road to be built, nor how much antipathy and disrespect would accrue to you and your administration.

We hope you will seriously consider the harm you will do to Fairlop Waters, to the people of Redbridge and to your reputation if you grant permission for this road.

Underhand deal over haul road

Chris Gannaway, vice-chairman, Aldborough Hatch Defence Association, writes:

Your readers will be aware that a significant habitat of protected wildlife species is under serious threat from a haul road to carry sand and gravel from Aldborough Hatch Farm that will crash through part of what we all believed was Fairlop Waters.

It has been revealed to the Aldborough Hatch Defence Association (AHDA) in a letter dated September 12, 2018 from Redbridge Council’s Place Directorate that a strip of what we all thought was Fairlop Waters is now no-man’s-land!

The letter states: “The council in 2011 removed a small area of land from that ‘licensed’ by the council to Vision for the country park next to the equestrian centre.”

In fact both the variation of the licence with Vision (the organisation running Fairlop Waters on behalf of the council) and the variation of the lease with the Aldborough Hall Equestrian Centre were done under the Officer Scheme of Delegation and approved by the head of estates and asset management.

No elected councillor was consulted and it was carried out under the previous administration with officers who are no longer employed and are therefore unaccountable.

What is now crystal clear is that Redbridge Council officers did a highly shady deal behind closed doors in 2011 to remove a strip of land from the country park without any public consultation.

With whom the deal was done remains a mystery for we have learned on impeccable authority that no records exist from that time. We are, therefore, left to jump to our own conclusions.

Interestingly, Brett Tarmac Linited’s representative at a meeting with the AHDA on September 20, 2018, made the startling statement that a landowner and a developer can make such deals without telling the public – even a landowner who is a local council responsible to its council tax payers?

This was clearly done in 2011 so that when the planning committee considered Planning Application 2089/16 in 2017, planning officers could hold their hands on their hearts to assert that the haul road would not go through Fairlop Waters. What a cynical deception. But the perpetrators have been found out and exposed for what they are! It is a grossly underhand and shady deal

If this is allowed to go ahead it will destroy the habitat of a number of protected wildlife species.

The ADHA and the Fairlop Birders, with the support of other local conservationists, are joining forces on this campaign and are calling on the leader of the council Cllr Jas Athwal (who also takes cabinet responsibility for parks and open spaces) to stop this development.

We want all the members of the public who share our concern to email Cllr Athwal (jas.athwal@redbridge.gov.uk) and their local councillors to that effect.

Parking charges badly thought out

Dr Adrianne Tobias, chairman, Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum, writes:

I endorse the view of Paula Russell that the telephone parking payment system can be difficult and discriminatory.

The RinGo system in particular has proved problematic to some of us. Although I understand the rationale behind the telephone payment system is to prevent damage by vandals trying to raid parking meters, many older people do not have mobiles, if, for example, their hearing aids are incompatible with them.

Some have basic mobile phones but without an internet facility which means that parking in some recreational locations can be problematic as they cannot install a RinGo App.

The solution is not to ask these people to use a bus, as suggested to me recently by a councillor. Neither is it to ask children and grandchildren to arrange the RinGo parking for their parents and grandparents, also suggested to me as a solution!

More older and disabled people in particular would not be deterred or even prevented from using these car parks if users could buy parking tickets from designated and easily accessible places throughout the borough.

Another point worth mentioning is the unsatisfactory system of charges at Hainault Forest Country Park. Here parking costs £1 for the first hour, but any time over that is charged at a flat rate of £3.50, which enables parking for a whole day.

Therefore if a resident wanted to participate in an organised event as promoted by Redbridge through the DoMore book, (for example a ranger led slow amble round the park for an hour) and they arrived a few minutes early they would have to pay for the day to avoid the possibility of a fine. Similarly, a fine could be given if the activity time overruns and you are late picking up your car.

It is a pity that, in their determination to design out crime and by allowing unfair and/or badly thought out parking charges, Redbridge Council has penalised some of those who want to use these locations for their actual purpose.

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