Facelift planned for TFC Supermarket

FARA has seen a planning application for changes to ‘Panther House’ in Leytonstone High Road, which has the TFC supermarket on the ground floor. The plans are for general improvements to the building, including new signage and opening up the ground floor windows which are currently blocked. We have commented on the application because although it’s just outside the FARA area, it is our nearest supermarket and used a lot by our residents. We couldn’t see anything to object to in the plans and certainly the building could use a facelift. The only point we made was that there should be cast-iron maintenance arrangements in place once the building is beautified – in particular, to clean up any graffiti and pigeon droppings.

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Review of activities in 2012

This review was presented by our Chair, Flash Bristow, at the annual meeting on 21 May 2013.

FARA review of the year

I was proud to be elected chair of FARA in 2012 for a third year.

We continued with our regular activities – for example the discount scheme continued to offer a good deal for members in local shops and businesses. Our newsletter has remained at 4 pages and I am confident provides useful information, from news and crime prevention details through to reviews of local traders. It is delivered to our members three times a year, and once a year goes to all households in our area.

FARA offered a range of events throughout 2012. The high point was undoubtedly our immensely popular Street Party last summer, which as our guest book said, “brought everyone together, got people out and gave a huge sense of community”. I must commend our dedicated team who organised this event: Liz Dawson led a talented team of Koen, Christine, Jane, June and Joyce, supported by Josie, Nicholas and Georgina, Val, Lucy, Frances, Wendy, Julie, Mary and Emmanuel. Wow, what a team! It just shows what can be achieved when a community comes together.

Other events have included a Scavenger Hunt, and more recently both Bluebell and History walks, as well as annual participation in Waltham Forest’s Springclean event. Many thanks to all those who attended, and I hope you had fun!

FARA also works closely with the police, passing on our concerns about local anti-social behaviour and relaying the Safer Neighbourhood Team news and crime statistics. This is part of our responsibility as a Neighbourhood Watch. We supply window stickers to all members and it is important that every member displays theirs, as it is a deterrent to burglars. Please let me know if you do not have a window sticker and would like one. I’m pleased to report that the Neighbourhood Watch officer for Waltham Forest says that compared to the surrounding areas, crime in the FARA streets is generally low. In fact last month there were no reported crimes in the FARA area at all! But of course we still need to work together to prevent crime, and there will be a Neighbourhood Watch report later on this evening.

We have continued our regular work liaising with local groups such as the staff at Edward House hostel, and with CBHA who own the Lincolns site. We have been working with them to respond to their plans for the site at every stage including organising a drop-in session earlier this year. I believe that CBHA will soon have a final version ready for review, and we will let you know where and when you can view the plans and have your say, before they are submitted as a Planning Application to the council.

FARA continues to respond to consultations – such as those on cuts to the Police and the Fire Brigade – and to respond to planning issues in our area. We are also involved in the formation of a new Community Plan scheme, which is intended to influence planning policy in Leytonstone town centre. This is at a very early stage and I hope there will be more news to bring you soon.

As you can see it’s been a busy year for FARA, I have been honoured to have been Chair during 2012 and hope that the next year will be even better. We have already been busy in 2013 and there is much more to come.

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How to spot a cannabis farm near you

The Met Police have asked us to pass on this information about cannabis farms.

Cannabis farms grow more than just drugs. Is there one near you?

 Cannabis farms grow violence and organised crime

Cannabis isn’t the harmless drug people often think it is. Organised crime gangs that grow it can bring crime, violence and intimidation into a neighbourhood. Cannabis farms are not good for anyone.

You can tell if there is a problem

Gangs don’t want to draw attention to the houses or flats they use as farms. They’re often quiet and unassuming. They look just like your home at first glance, but there are a number of signs that there is a cannabis farm in your area.

How can you tell if there’s a cannabis farm near you?

  • Strong, sickly smell given off by cannabis plants.
  • Cannabis growing equipment being taken into a house. For example, lighting and ventilation equipment.
  • Constantly covered or blocked-off windows. Cannabis factories often have constantly pulled curtains or black-out blinds.
  • Unsociable coming and going at all hours. Lots of different people visiting the property might be a clue too.
  • Strong and constant lighting day and night.
  • High levels of heat and condensation. Cannabis factories often give off heat and the windows stay misted up.
  • Constant buzz of ventilation. Listen out for a whirring sound as the growers try to create an ideal climate for the plants to grow.
  • Lots of power cables. Gangs dig underground to lay cables that hook up to things like lamp posts so they don’t have to pay for the enormous amounts of electricity they use. They can easily bypass a £20,000 utility bill; money that will be pushed back to other honest customers to pay through energy price rises.

Is organised crime running a cannabis farm in your neighbourhood?

Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use the secure online form.

Tell us where they are, not who you are.

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‘Courier Fraud’ – don’t be a victim

The Met Police’s Safer Neighbourhoods Teams (SNTs) across Waltham Forest are urging residents to avoid falling foul of con artists who use courier firms to help defraud victims of their life savings. Please make sure your friends and neighbours are aware, particularly if they are elderly.

What is courier fraud?

Courier fraud is a method fraudsters use to take victims’ money from their bank accounts by conning them into handing over their bank card to a courier, who delivers it to the suspect.

The method varies slightly from case to case but essentially the victim is telephoned by a suspect who alleges to be someone of authority, for example a police officer or someone from their bank or the Serious Fraud Office The suspect tells the victim there is a problem with their bank account – usually that it has been compromised. They are told that their card must be collected.

To convince the victim that they are genuine, the fraudster instructs the victim to hang up and call the police, bank or Serious Fraud Office on a genuine number. But the fraudster does not disconnect, and while the victim thinks they are making a new call they are in fact still connected to the suspect who again pretends to be a person of authority.

Having tricked the victim into believing they are who they say they are, the suspect convinces the victim to reveal their PIN. They then send a usually unwitting courier or taxi driver to the victim’s house to collect their bank card. The victim will usually have been instructed to wrap it up and put it in an envelope. The card is delivered to a second suspect, who then passes it on to the fraudster who made the call. The fraudster then empties the victim’s bank account.

Crime prevention measures

  • Police and banks will never ask for your PIN or bank card
  • Never give your PIN or bank card to anyone
  • If you are contacted by someone who asks for your PIN or  bank card, hang up
  • Use a different line to report it to police on 101 or  allow at least five minutes for the line to automatically clear. Call 999 if the crime is in action.

Between 01 January 2011 and 31 December 2012 there were 2,229 reports of courier fraud, including unsuccessful attempts across London.

Waltham Forest was the 12th worst hit borough with 65 incidents reported in this period.

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FARA litter pick goes ahead whatever the weather

Litter pick volunteers

Litter pick volunteers raring to go

An intrepid band of ten volunteers turned out in showery weather for today’s FARA litter pick, done as part of the Council-organised Spring Clean of the borough. We focused mainly on Wanstead Flats, where we found a plethora of beer cans (perhaps we should apply for sponsorship from Stella Artois next time), and lots of water/Lucozade and other drink containers on and around the football pitches, so we’ll be talking to the Epping Forest managers about that. We stopped a bit earlier than usual due to us all being a bit cold and wet, but nevertheless we managed to fill around a dozen sacks full of rubbish for the Council to collect later, and we left Wanstead Flats a prettier place for everyone to enjoy. Thanks to everyone who turned up to help, and to young Teddy and Bessie the German Shepherd for the moral support!

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Keep a police counter in the south of the borough, says FARA

The Mayor’s office has recently run a consultation on Police resources in all London boroughs. Waltham Forest has been promised more officers, however the proposals also include the closure of 4 out of 5 front counters (and in some cases closing the whole police station), leaving just Chingford open. FARA opposed this, saying that we feel there must be a police station in the south of the borough where people can attend and report crime.

Read the FARA response

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Resurfacing Ferndale Road from 19 November

By this time most people will have seen the notices in Ferndale Road about parking restrictions which are happening due to (much needed) road resurfacing works. Each household should have got a letter explaining more about it. For anyone who didn’t, here is a copy.

Resurfacing of Ferndale Road E11

Obviously FARA has been anxious to avoid a similar debacle to that which took place in Ferndale Road over the painting of Olympic parking bays. On that occasion we were given very little notice of the need to move our cars, and quite a few residents received tickets and fines as a result. The Council promised us at least 2 weeks’ notice next time, and we’re pleased they have kept to this.

FARA has been told that “Access will be provided in special cases for residents during working hours with prior arrangements.” So if you think you are a special case, it would be a good idea to get in touch with the Council engineer now (the email is Jeeves.Jeevanandan@walthamforest.gov.uk, full details are on the Council letter).

If you have any comments to add, especially if it’s something useful to your neighbours in Ferndale Road, please feel free to write something below.

Update (1 November)

The on-street notices have now been amended to say ‘No parking’ and the daily times have been added. We have been told by the project manager that the whole of Ferndale Rd must be clear of cars on the days when resurfacing is taking place. Any cars left behind will definitely be ticketed and towed away, because this is a costly exercise that can’t be allowed to be disrupted by a few cars. We have been warned!

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CPZ Consultation – this is the time to have our say

All residents in the FARA area (except those in Davies Lane who already have a CPZ) should have received a public consultation document “Post Games Controlled Parking Zone”. The document is A4 with a mostly bright green cover. It has a detachable questionnaire at the back which must be returned to the Council in the envelope “before Monday 22 October”.

It’s essential that all residents get to have a say about this CPZ which affects us all, whether we are vehicle owners or simply have occasional visitors or tradesmen visiting.

To ensure your questionnaire arrives in time, you should post on or by Tuesday 16 October (because second-class post is supposed to arrive on the third WORKING day after posting, and you want it to arrive on/by Friday 19 October).

Didn’t get a questionnaire? Send an email as soon as possible to cpz.schemes@walthamforest.gov.uk, stating your name and address.

FARA isn’t taking a formal position for or against the CPZ but we are very keen to ensure all residents have a say and that you are aware of all the issues. We welcome your views below including comments from people from Davies Lane who know what it’s like living in a CPZ. (Comments are moderated so won’t appear straight away, but should go up the same day.)

External links that may be of interest:
Waltham Forest Council pages on parking permits
Waltham Forest Guardian: ‘Thousands’ against CPZ proposals

Lincolns pub – an update


Lincolns is currently in the process of being demolished. This is a 6 week process using “hand held tools”. As you can see from the photograph (taken on Monday 25 June) the inside has been stripped and work is now in progress to take down the shell.

The building was originally built about 150 years ago and sections were added over the years, so it is interesting to see what each stage uncovers.

We have had enquiries as to why the building, or its facade, is not being retained. The owners, CBHA, have told FARA that the building is in too bad a state to be retained in any way. Also, it would not be financially viable for them to do this; they need to build over a larger area of the site to make it worthwhile.

Plans for what will replace Lincolns will invariably be housing, but the plans have not been finalised. FARA is working with CBHA to ensure that local residents have input and can make them aware of issues that concern us, for example whether there will be any on-site parking. We expect to meet with CBHA again soon for their “Residents’ Design Panel”. Eventually they will need to make a planning application before they can build on the site, and we will of course post details of any planning application for the Lincolns site, as and when it happens.

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A statement from our Chair, Flash Bristow

I am aware that I have been quoted, and misquoted, in various media regarding the proposed missile on Fred Wigg Tower during the Olympics.

I have been contacted by the media because my position with FARA meant that they could identify me as a nearby resident. However, I have always been careful to specify that, although it is a fact that I am Chair of FARA, any views I give on this subject are my own. I have explained that I do not know what other members of the Committee may think and that I am not able to speak for FARA as an organisation.

Unfortunately, one particular newspaper did not make this clear, choosing only to quote the most sensationalist phrases from my interview, and to attribute background information as if I presented this as a reason for objecting. In fact I only spoke to one UK publication, and I suspect that these quotes have been used by other media out of context, or possibly unaware of the context.

Of course, I did not speak for FARA, which is unable to hold political affiliation and which does not generally take a view on political topics.

I hope this informs and reassures members and friends of FARA, but if you have any questions please get in touch with me via email or a note through the door at 1 Davies Lane.

Flash Bristow

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