Monday 28 December 2015

A Real Eastenders' Christmas

Locked out neighbours carol singing in Tredegar Square under torchlight.

For a moment over Christmas, Tredegar Square gave Albert Square a run for its money when it came to melodrama. Just an hour before the annual Carols in the Square, the heavens opened and my phone started to buzz with punters concerned whether we could or should go ahead. "Of course" I said, as I looked out of The Chesterfield's window to see rain ricocheting off the pavement.

Forty-five minutes (and a change of sodden clothes) later my phone rang again "the Square gates are locked"; could I phone "my people" and if not shall we call the police? Needless to say "my people" didn't answer and thinking the police wouldn't be amused I began the walk round to the square, feeling like the 4th or is it the 5th emergency service.

On arrival I could see an emergency mulled-wine station had been setup outside the gates. A small vanguard of carol singers set off for the Morgan Arms to see if they could accommodate us, but the landlord reluctantly turned us down as we might disturb the neighbours (a fair point if you've heard us sing).

Meanwhile, Vivian and I exchanged glances and then decided in a rare moment of near silent synchronicity to move the show over to the north-east corner of the square as it has the least traffic. A couple of carol singers blocked the road off with their cars, and then set up shop under the corner lamppost. Eventually the song sheets were found in a pre-5pence plastic bag, dished out and extra wine and minced pies forced on those gathered. But who was going to lead the singing? Luckily a man emerged from the shadows, stood under the streetlight and said on queue: "I' can do it" in a voice that had me thinking Hugh Bonneville was guest starring but had turned up at the wrong square....and then THE CAROLS BEGAN. They were amazing and great fun.

Thanks to everyone who helped out. You'd think all you have to do is turn up and sing, but you'd be surprised: minced pies, mulled wine, buying and wrapping presents for the kids, sparklers, fetching and carrying Santa (the reindeers were unavailable as they were on a pre-Christmas team-bonding trip). There were around 40-50 people there and lots of kids. Quite a good turnout considering the weather (it only rained for like 2 minutes).

If everything had gone to plan it wouldn't have been half the fun.

And finally. Great to see the return of the Aberavon Puds. A Mile End Christmas isn't the same without them.

It must be Christmas: Eaton Terrace displaying their Christmas Pudding baubles

Update on Redevelopment of Grove Road Texaco site.

The Texaco Garage emerging from the fog as a 277 bus passes by.

The council's deadline for commenting on the proposals for redeveloping the Grove Road Texaco garage site has now passed. We estimate around 30 objections were made, plus a petition by the Clinton Road residents and a letter from MEOTRA. There was at least one letter supporting the scheme.

Something everyone seems to agree on is the need for homes to be built. But there is a danger that in the fog of the often-mentioned "housing crisis" developers can get pretty much any housing scheme approved. After all isn't any housing better than none at all? In 10 or 20 years time will we look back and think what a wonderful addition to our area, or will we see a lost opportunity?

The council "Globe Road" signs put up in Grove Road accidently
On a lighter note. Hands up who noticed the council boo-boo the other week, where signs seemingly intended for GLOBE road found themselves attached to GROVE road lampposts? Or maybe they just got the name wrong?

And I thought it was just the pizza man who got the two streets mixed up.

Saturday 19 December 2015

MEOTRA Carols: 5PM Sunday in Tredegar Square

Morgan Street front windows decorated for Christmas
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....
It's the annual MEOTRA Carols in Tredegar Square tomorrow (Sunday) from 5PM. Mince pies and mulled wine for us oldies; and biscuits, fruit juice, sparklers and presents from Santa for the children (oh to be a child again ;( )

I'm sorry for the late notice, but I had a little office celebration last night and have kind of lost a day! Walking around Mile End today it was really cheery to see so many front windows decorated and maybe next year we should have a competition for best window display?

I hope lots of you can come tomorrow it promises to be a great event.

Sunday 13 December 2015

Deadline looms for Comments on Re-Development of Grove Road Texaco Site

As mentioned in our newsletter, MEOTRA had heard on the grapevine that the Texaco Garage in Grove Road was going to be redeveloped into dwellings. So just as everyone is snowed under getting ready for Christmas the planning application has just recently been submitted:
PA/15/03079 | Demolition of existing Structures and Buildings associated with the petrol station (Sui Generis) plus redevelopment of the site by the erection of Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 storey buildings to form 17 new dwellings(C3) (4 x 3 bed town houses with roof top terraces and 13 flats (5 x 1 bed, 7 x 2 and 1 x 3 bed) together with Associated Amenity Space, Refuse Store, Cycle Store, Landscaping, and Related Works. | 53 Grove Road, London, E3 4PE
The planning application stretches to 36 documents. The development is car-free, has storage for some 30 bikes.

Residents have until next Monday 21st December to register any objections to the plans otherwise they are likely to go through without a planning meeting. What do you think of the plans? Please do take a look at the plans and take some time to write with your objections to quoting PA/15/03079 Please feel free to copy me in (

I like the look of the scheme, but I think is is totally unsuitable for our area. As shown on the applicant's Design and Access statement the site borders two conservation areas (Tredegar Square and Clinton Road Conservation Areas) with Mile End Park forming its other boundaries. The application states "It is an area of architectural and historic interest, with a character and appearance worthy of protection and enhancement". Unfortunately the scheme does neither.

I think the extreme proximity of the site to these conservation areas (and Mile End Park) mean it should be given extra close attention by the planners. In particular:

  1. The scheme will have a detrimental effect on the character and appearance of the neighbouring CAs.
  2. According to the council character appraisal of the Clinton Road CA, a key aspect is the two storey nature of the buildings in Clinton Road. The scheme is too high and indeed is higher than anything nearby.
  3. The recently renovated neighbouring property 51 Grove Road (aka "Mile End Hotel") is the last building of its design and type in Grove Road and surely deserves to be locally listed. The proposed development will totally ruin the setting of this building by dwarfing it.
  4. The density of dwellings is too high. It looks suspiciously like the developer is looking to try it on with "let's see if we can get an extra storey through planning".
  5. The materials used totally contrast with those used elsewhere in the vicinity. 
  6. The proposed dwellings overlook a number of the houses in Clinton Road leading to a substantial loss of privacy.

Why on earth wasn't the site included in one or other of the conservation areas?

Map of the Texaco Garage Site, Grove Road showing it sits on the boundary between two conservation areas.
Spot the "hole" in the conservation areas.
Architect's drawings - the building dwarfs its surroundings
Portions of the scheme dwarf surrounding buildings.

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Over 50s Tea Dance: 9th December at the Art Pavilion.

Cartoon drawing of a couple dancing tango
Next week sees the annual Christmas Tea Dance at the Art Pavilion in Mile End Park. Entertainment will be provided by the Sunshine Kings and Dance Leader Tony Lane. Why not put on your festive party clothes and come along for an afternoon of dancing, refreshments and Christmas cheer. You may even get a foxtrot with Mayor Biggs.

Admission is FREE but advance booking is essential. Please phone 020 7364 7900 (9.30am to 4pm, Mon to Thurs) or email

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.....

I do hope you can make it to Bow church. Be great if you could download and print out a flyer to tie to your railings or put in your front window.

Monday 21 September 2015

Guest Blog: Cllr Josh Peck with some news on CS2U

Grove Road stacked up with the CS2U building materials

(This week is a guest blog from Cllr Josh Peck reporting back on a recent meeting he had regarding the CS2U works). Over to Josh:

Last week I meet TfL, the Highways Agency and Council Highways officers on Mile End Road to look at the various problems that the CS2 works – and their poor planning and delivery – are causing.

We made some progress. They agreed that the banned right-hand turn on Burdett Road to Mile End Road would be reviewed after it’s been operational for a time, to understand what the impact has been on side roads and rat runs. Many local residents objected to this and, once the roadworks have been finished, we need a serious look at whether these concerns have been borne out.

Residents have also raised concerns about the removal of the central reservation, which is now allowing cars to cross the road at various points, making the road more dangerous for cyclists. The road is not wide enough to reinstate the central reservation or even put in wands but they did agree to get signage up (and indeed have already done so) and tell me they will soon start enforcing by CCTV – be warned!

We discussed the long tailbacks from the Burdett Road lights, making it dangerous for pedestrians having to weave through stationary traffic outside the tube. They say that the roadworks will be finished here in the next two to three weeks and at that point the permanent lights will take effect. After about a month for them to ‘learn’ the traffic patterns, they assure me that the traffic flow should improve dramatically and that it is their intention that traffic won’t queue through the tube crossing any more.

We discussed the long queues up Grove Road, and the impacts on Roman Road and Old Ford Road. Once the main lights are in place, they will fit sensors up Grove and elsewhere, which will allow them to monitor queues and adjust the lights accordingly. They were confident this should quickly start to improve things.

Finally they said they’re looking at the very bumpy surface to the CS2 lane and I also asked them to deal with the pooling that happens on the tube crossing whenever it rains, forcing people to step out into the road to get round it.

All in all a positive meeting and we should start to see a difference in the next couple of weeks. If not, I’ll go back to them. As ever, please email me on with any issues

Thursday 20 August 2015

CS2U (Again!) - Will it be worth it?

The undulating surface of the CS2U cycle highway.
Want to cycle this? Maybe take some sea-sickness tablets first.
CS2U, the cycle superhighway that passes along Mile End Road and forms our southern border, is scheduled to impose a total of 58 weeks of disruption during its construction phase. When complete we will be left with other changes which will affect our neighbourhood permanently: newly banned turns making it difficult and time-consuming to carry out what were previously trivial journeys; and it seems increased traffic queuing is inevitable. But at least we can look forward to a first class cycle route that even the least confident of us will be able to use? Well I hate to say it, but disappointingly the route is turning out to be anything but first class.

The other day I had a cycle along the semi-completed part of CS2U between Mile End and Bow Road stations. The surface is really unpleasant to ride as it undulates every couple of feet (a result of it being laid in 2ft strips no doubt). It is like riding with oval-shaped wheels and you nod up and down. As a result it feels slow and I am sure a large number of commuters will opt to cycle on the road instead.

I am told the problem is that the path should be laid as machine rolled asphalt but hasn't been. Instead a chap with a hand roller goes to and fro as each section is dolloped down. What is particularly depressing is that similar defects in the surface condition of the section east of Bow roundabout had already been brought to TfL's attention on numerous occasions. As Phil Oakey once said: "experience is useless unless you can learn".

If a road surface was laid in the same way, car drivers would cause an uproar. I have emailed TfL about it, and encouraged the Tower Hamlets Wheelers and London Cycling Campaign to do likewise. 

You can see the waves clearly in the photo above. One cyclist has commented it looks like a badly rolled out carpet.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

News about the CS2 Upgrade - Traffic, Trees & Trash. Part III: Trash

Something TfL didn't plan for, but should have, was how LBTH could continue to collect the refuse from either businesses or residents along the CS2U construction route.

This has led to piles of rubbish of proportions not seen in Bow since the 3-day week. The litter mountain below left grew over a course of a few days in Eric Street, until Cllr Josh Peck was alerted and dealt with it quickly.

The huge pile of rubbish piled 12ft high by Mile End station
Ain't no mountain high enough for Veolia it seems

If you are looking at the photo above right and thinking perhaps Rachel Whiteread has returned to Mile End with a new art installation "Talkin' Rubbish", then I'm sorry to disappoint. It is actually the phone box opposite Keatons in Mile End Road - another by-product of the TfL planning process.

If you see piles of rubbish, litter or  issues then please report using the FixMyStreet website, iPhone or Android Apps. The issue will then be passed on automatically to the council and posted online.

Putting reports online has several benefits. Others can quickly see what has already been reported, so it prevents the council from having to deal with duplicates. It also creates a snapshot for local communities, so it's easy to see what the common problems are in a given area, and how quickly they get fixed. Other residents can browse, read and comment on problems – and perhaps even offer a solution. For these reasons I prefer FixMyStreet to Tower Hamlet's FiFiLi App which keeps reports secret.

Monday 17 August 2015

News about the CS2 Upgrade - Traffic, Trees & Trash. Part II: Trees

The TfL visualisation of how the CS2U route will look when finished

When TfL first published their visualisation for how Mile End Road would look post-CS2U I was struck by three things: the lack of traffic; the vibrant green of the trees; and the cleanliness of the streets.

In today's post, the second of three related posts, I'm going to update residents on what has been going on regarding the trees along the route.

On Wednesday 22nd July I attended a full council meeting with Geoff Juden, Chairman of the East London Garden Society who put the following question to the Mayor and his cabinet:

Mayor John Biggs replied that LBTH and TfL officers are talking to each other about this issue. Sites to replace 4 of the 22 trees have been identified, and work continues to find sites for the other 18. He understands three of the felled trees were mature and their loss is particularly regrettable. The borough aims to maintain and hopefully increase the cover of trees.

MEOTRA will keep you updated about this, as trees, as well as being aesthetically pleasing, also improve air quality, help cool buildings of a summer and absorb traffic sound.

(The next post will look at the continuing litter and rubbish issues in the MEOTRA area. especially those caused by the CS2U works).

Sunday 16 August 2015

News about the CS2 Upgrade - Traffic, Trees & Trash. Part I: Traffic

Annotated map showing  showing changes to disruption levels as cycle superhighway construction continues

As we move from August to September the disruption within the MEOTRA area due to the construction phase of the CS2 upgrade should start to ease considerably as illustrated above. Although the Bow Church side of MEOTRA will remain busier than usual, the 2am traffic jams in Grove Road should be a thing of the past.

MEOTRA have written to TfL about the unacceptable levels of traffic, in particular those in Grove Road, and requested southbound traffic is given more than the current quota of 12 in every 120 seconds. (Timing light changes whilst waiting for my Greedy Cow burger is a new pastime).  

Some of you may have noticed or had a letter about the new road surface in Burdett Road. This new surface is great, and perhaps laying it is a sign the messy phase of the Crossrail works is complete? In any case, MEOTRA have written to TfL and asked about getting Grove Road resurfaced as sections of it form a significant hazard to road users especially cyclists. The poor surface is also very noisy, especially when wet.

The Texaco Garage Grove Road
A rare traffic-free moment in Grove Road. The silence broken by bouncing buggies and boisterous babies.
The increased traffic  has obviously affected the timings and waiting times for buses and MEOTRA have requested seating at the bus stop in the southern end of Grove Road next to the sign shop/ sweet shop. Additionally we have asked for northbound D7 buses to terminate north of Mile End Road to better link with other routes (e.g. 425 and 339).

Removal of the A11 Central Reservation near Tredegar Square
Residents are concerned that the removal of a section of Mile End Road's central reservation will allow a right turn from Mile End Road into Tredegar Square, and from Mile End Road into Southern Grove (see below).
Detail from TfL map showing the layout at the Mile End/Tredegar Square junction
Both of these turns were prohibited turns prior to the CS2 upgrade works and TfL have confirmed the restrictions will remain in place once the scheme is complete. TfL acknowledge that the removal of the traffic island has 'physically' made these turning movements possible, and that a number of drivers are choosing to make the turns.

One MEOTRA resident has put a lot of effort into proposing various solutions such as reduced width central barriers, but TfL remain adamant that the road is too narrow at this point for even the slimmest of central barriers.

TfL are working with the LBTH to amend the existing traffic orders, ensuring these restrictions can be enforced. They will also install signage at these junctions to ensure the right turn restrictions are understood by all road users and are currently looking at suitable locations for CCTV enforcement cameras.

(The next post will focus on the felling of trees along the route).

Monday 20 July 2015

Lovebox - How was it for you?

Bin bags on railings in Grove road during Lovebox
No shortage of bins. Just a shortage of folk willing to use them?

So how was Lovebox for you?

MEOTRA will be feeding back to the organisers and Tower Hamlets Council how the event went from OUR perspective. MEOTRA attended the pre-lovebox meeting way back in February. Only seven members of the public came (including two from MEOTRA and Cllr Josh Peck)

At that meeting we asked for toilets opposite Mile End Station, in Mile End Park (bus turnaround and opposite the Victoria); lots more rubbish collections throughout the day, more stewards (and for them not to be just leaning on a bollard texting all day) and  more enforcements regarding dealing of nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas - the "legal" high).

We emphasised that festivals don't just affect those living around the park, and that the majority of punters pass through MEOTRA's streets as they walk from Mile End station to Victoria Park.  The organisers agreed to include affected streets in the free local ballot for tickets.

We managed to get most of the above concessions. But were they enough? Please let us know. Also let us know of any other problems you experienced over the weekend as a result of the festivities.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

MEOTRA FUN DAY Sunday 5th July 2-5PM

Graphic illustrating all the activities at the MEOTRA Fun Day
It's MEOTRA's Annual Fun Day this coming Sunday. All the details you need are above in our colourful flyer. It is always a great, relaxing, child-friendly event. I'm looking forward to some home-made cakes and lemonade. Hope to see you there and (as ever) fingers crossed for the weather.

Monday 15 June 2015

Sunday 14 June 2015

Friends of Mile End Park Fun Day & Dog Show - Sat 20th June 12-4PM

Flyer for the Friends of Mile End Park Community FAir and Dog Show

The Friends of Mile End Park Annual Community Fair and Dog Show is just days away - NEXT SATURDAY.

There will have something for people of all ages including: Bouncy Castle, children's rides, coconut shy, facepainting, the "smoothie bike", food stalls & vans, the Women's Institute with their legendary cake stall,  the Tower Hamlets Wheelers with their Dr Bike, and a belly-dancing troupe!

Of course there will be the Dog Show which is always great fun. Don't worry if you haven't been before - it's no Crufts (unless they too have a best thing on 6-legs categories). The Dog Show starts at 2PM with registrations from 1PM. There will be Dog Agility demonstrations from 1PM. The PDSA will be on hand and will have a range of doggie treats for sale (all money goes towards their work).

Premier Pet Care from the Isle of Dogs are providing the Dog Show prizes for winners and runners up.

If you have any bric-a- brac, then feel free to bring it along to sell off a blanket or table.

If you see me then mine's a '99. Thanks.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Don't Forget to Vote Tomorrow!

Lately the blog has been a bit overly "campaigning" with regard to the CS2 Upgrade. We try to be apolitical at MEOTRA, but I think most of you won't mind me reminding you to vote. You can find all the info about the election on the council website. Taken from the council site:

How to cast your votes
At this election you have two votes. Vote once in column one for your first choice candidate and once in column two for your second choice candidate.You do not have to cast a second choice vote, but you must cast a first choice vote or your ballot paper will not be counted.If you vote for the same candidate twice, your second choice vote will not be counted.
 How the votes for Mayor will be counted
The count will take place on Thursday, 11 June, following the close of poll at 10pm.
If one candidate gets more than 50% of the first-choice votes, he or she will be elected as Mayor of Tower Hamlets.
If no candidate gets more than half the first choice votes, the two candidates with the most first-choice votes remain in the contest and all the other candidates drop out. Then, the second choice votes on the ballot papers of the candidates who dropped out of the contest are counted. Where there are votes for the two candidates remaining in the contest, they are added to the first-choice votes these candidates already have.
Of the two candidates, the one with the most first-choice and second-choice votes combined will be declared the next Mayor of Tower Hamlets.

For most of us the nearest polling station is in the Gateway Housing Association building opposite Mile End tube station, but if you want to check you can use the council's online polling station finder 

Sunday 31 May 2015

CS2 Upgrade Construction Phase: Schoolchildren and other pedestrians put in increased danger

As we all know the Mile End area contains a large number of schools. Whilst TfL have reassured us that ALL pedestrian crossings will be reinstated following the CS2 construction work, at last Thursday's public meeting many residents voiced concerns about the increased danger to children and other pedestrians during this 58-week construction period.

Guardian Angels, Beatrice Tate, Central Foundation Girls', Malmesbury, Phoenix,  Pillar Box Montessori Nursery and  Mile End Nursery Schools all lie either on Mile End Road or on streets that run into it. Whilst TfL have carried out extensive traffic modelling, what allowance have they made for the thousands of school pupils (and university students) crossing this dangerously congested road?

Additionally, a number of schools (Ben Jonson, Halley & St Paul's Way Schools) lie on roads that are suffering a significant increase in traffic as vehicles attempt to circumvent the banned right turns at Mile End Junction.

As a matter of urgency we believe TfL and Tower Hamlets Council need to assess the increased danger to children and other pedestrians before someone is seriously hurt.

We would urge parents to ask their schools what measures have been put in place to educate pupils about these increased dangers and whether headteachers have expressed their concerns in writing to both TfL and Tower Hamlets Council.

Parents and other residents concerned about these issues and ones mentioned in previous articles should write to:

Sir Peter Hendy
Commissioner for Transport for London
14 Pier Walk, Se10 0ES

John Biggs
London Assembly Member (for City and East London)
Greater London Authority
City Hall,
The Queen's Walk
London SE1 2AA

Residents who have followed the scheme will know that the portion passing through Whitechapel was heavily reconfigured by TfL following lobbying by the ex-Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman. Indeed Tower Hamlets Council will be given funding by TfL to counter rat-running and also to put in place traffic-calming measures. So please do get in touch with your local councillors  and also the Tower Hamlets mayoral candidates.

Report on Meeting with TfL regarding CS2 Upgrade

Pedestrians cross on red at Mile End Station as the lights rarely hit green
Mile End Station: Pedestrians run the gauntlet

Over 100 locals attended Thursday night’s public meeting regarding the CS2 Upgrade (CS2U) works and its effect on those living in the Mile End area. It was a good turnout considering it was half term and over 20 apologies were received.

As well as MEOTRA, residents from MERA (Mile End Residents' Association), GUPRA (Grand Union Place Residents' Association) and RRRBA (Roman Road residents & Business Association) area were there in numbers.

Three CS2U staff attended: Glenn Tobin from Ringway Jacobs (an integrated service provider), Nick Dundon and Aaron Rosser from TfL.

Aaron Rosser outlined the main aspects of the scheme via a brief PowerPoint presentation. (see TfL1, TfL2, and TfL3 for the proposals, consultation results, and travel advice respectively). This was then countered by John White from MEOTRA before moving to a Q&A session with the audience and panel examining different aspects of the scheme in turn...

Consultation and Planning
Aaron Rosser stated the consultation showed the Mile End section of the scheme had the support of 88% of respondents. JW questioned these figures – MEOTRA represented over 700 households and following its own consultation had opposed core aspects of the scheme, yet no weighting seems to have been given to MEOTRA’s reply (i.e. it counted as one reply not 700). Similarly for Tower Hamlets Wheelers (THW), MERA, RRRBA, GUPRA and other groups. Indeed THW had put forward detailed proposals of their own which they predicted would have caused less issues for all parties. These proposals do not seem to have been given more than a cursory glance by TfL.

Banned Right Turns (Burdett Road into Mile End Road; Mile End Road into Burdett Road)
This formed the largest part of the discussion. No one in the audience spoke in favour of banning these turns. Aaron and the other TfL representatives heard from many in the audience about the negative effect banning these turns would have on the local community. In particular:

  1. Grove Road is now much, much busier with vehicles seeking to circumvent the banned turns by turning into it and then performing U-turns.
  2. HGVs routinely halt under Grove Road Railway Bridge, reverse across pedestrian lights into Clinton Road and then drive back up to the Mile End junction
  3. TfL suggest vehicles drive all the way up to the Old Ford roundabout to turn around – but this is too small for Lorries
  4. Vehicles travelling eastbound along Mile End Road and wishing to turn right into Burdett Road are now using Harford Street and Ben Jonson Road as an alternative route. This has led to a huge increase in traffic along these roads.
  5. Burdett Road already has increased congestion due to the ongoing CrossRail works near Mile End Stadium and large sections of Burdett Road are “coned off” for CrossRail use only. Had TfL allowed for this in their modelling?
  6. TfL’s traffic modelling predicts Bow Common Lane and Campbell Road to become alternatives. Several audience members expressed concern that these roads were too narrow and unsuitable.
Traffic are habitually doing illegal turns on Grove Road now
The quietest it's been all week (Saturday 3.30PM FA Cup Final Day during Half Term.
But still three illegal U-turns in under a minute.

Pedestrian Safety and access to Mile End Station
  1. The Mile End station pedestrian lights phasing with the Mile End Junction lights is not set properly. Traffic backs up from the junction all the way to Southern Grove and beyond. As a result pedestrians now routinely hover and then scuttle across through the moving traffic. There will be death or serious injury unless this is corrected.
  2. TfL has not planned for the safety of thousands of Queen Mary University students crossing to Mile End Station or of schoolchildren at the many local schools.

Q: Why not separate traffic lights for cyclists as in Holland? 
A: TfL replied that they have consulted with traffic managers from abroad and are starting this.
Q: Blue paint slippery…
A:  TfL adding rougher material to mix.
Q: Cycle lanes between pavement and “floating bus stops” are dangerous?
A: We've got used to this on the way to Stratford.
Q: Why not direct cyclists along quiet side roads instead of main road?
A:  Cycle Superhighway is the spine side roads connect to.

Short-Term (Construction-Phase) Issues
  1. Noise pollution – the increased congestion results in short-tempered drivers and vehicles with car horns now being blasted 24/7.
  2. Many vehicles (and cyclists!) are ignoring the banned right turns. This is very dangerous for pedestrians as the phasing of pedestrian lights assumes drivers are obeying the law. Traffic cameras and/or the police are needed to enforce these bans otherwise serious accidents will occur.
  3. There was general fury that the traffic lights now favour through traffic with pedestrians having to wait up to 7 minutes, then given less than 30 seconds to cross.
  4. Sometimes the lights aren't working at all.

Other Long-Term Issues
  1. The large westbound road signage obscures Mile End station so traffic is not aware it’s there.
  2. Once the scheme is complete TfL will carry out monitoring and may adjust certain aspects if they are deemed too dangerous.
  3. TfL assured us all suspended pedestrian crossings will be reinstated once construction work is complete.
  4. 22 mature trees have been felled. TfL assured us they aim to plant two trees for every one that is felled. This is discussed further on the East London Garden Society website

The meeting was chaired by our MEOTRA chair Margaret Winniak, with Joan Griffiths taking notes and acting as “question spotter”. They both deserve a big thank you as do the Epainos Church for providing the venue as such short notice.

The next blog post will focus on what we can do about these issues.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Public Meeting with TfL regarding CS2 Upgrades -Thursday 28th May 7PM

A council vehicle doing an illegal U-turn on Grove Road

MEOTRA have arranged a public meeting with Transport for London regarding the works to upgrade the CS2 cycle route that passes along Mile End Road.

The meeting is next Thursday, the 28th May, at 7PM in the Epiphanus church, Lichfield Rd. Three TfL staff are attending including Glenn Tobin, Public Liaison Officer: Cycle Superhighway Route 2 upgrade (CS2)  and Aaron Rosser, TfL's Cycle Superhighways project manager.

MEOTRA obviously welcomes moves to increase the safety of cyclists on London's roads (over 1,200 bikes commute along Mile End Rd daily), but we are greatly concerned about the affect of the scheme on the local area. In particular:

  1. MEOTRA believe TfL have greatly underestimated the number of vehicles wishing to turn right from Mile End Road into Burdett Road and vice versa. 
  2. Grove Road has seen a significant increase in traffic volumes as vehicles turn into it from both Burdett and Mile End roads and then perform U-turns to circumvent the restrictions. These vehicles thus pass through the junction twice instead of once leading to unnecessary congestion.
  3. Vehicles are now using quiet residential roads such as Clinton road to effect U-turns.
  4. TfL's suggestion that traffic drive all the way up to the roundabout at Victoria Park to U-turn is ridiculous - the roundabout is not designed for HGVs to drive around. Indeed an articulated lorry stopped under the Grove road railway bridge, reversed over a pelican crossing and then reverse turned into Clinton Road.
  5. The phasing of lights is atrocious: Boris' "Keep London Moving" policy which favours arterial traffic has been taken too far with both pedestrians and local traffic being held on red for extraordinary lengths of time (this recording shows pedestrians being held for over seven minutes at Mile End Junction). 
  6. Commuters using Mile End station and crossing Mile End Road have to run the gauntlet, as the station crossing stays red for pedestrians even though traffic is backed up all the from the main junction. Someone is going to get seriously hurt unless this is remedied. 

This meeting is open to all members of the public, not just MEOTRA residents. Doors open 7PM for a 7.15PM start. The location link below shows where the church is (near the The Lord Tredegar in Lichfield Road). Please come and air your concerns. This is probably our last chance for us to influence those implementing the CS2 scheme.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Our Annual General Meeting: This Thursday Evening

This Thursday evening is MEOTRA's Annual General Meeting at 7.30PM in the Epiphanus church, Lichfield Rd.

The agenda is below, but we are particularly pleased to have two guest speakers: A TFL representative to discuss the CS2 Cycle superhighway upgrade taking place literally on some of our doorsteps; and Megan Bushell from the Metropolitan Police's local neighbourhood team.

This is a rare opportunity to raise any issues you may have regarding the CS2 scheme (ie the introduction of two banned right turns from Burdett Road into Mile End Road and also Mile End Road into Burdett Road)

Megan from the Metropolitan Police, who is I'm sure already known to many residents, will discuss issues including anti-social behaviour in Clinton Road and the increase in burglaries in Lichfield Road.

Please do make an effort to come along and raise any questions and voice any concerns you may have.

  1. Welcome
  2. Apologies for absence
  3. Minutes of 2014 AGM
  4. Treasurer’s Report 
  5. Chairman’s Report
  6. Election of committee officers
  7. Any other business
  8. Guest Speaker from TFL discussing the CS2 Cycle Superhighway followed by questions
  9. Guest Speaker Metropolitan Police Officer Megan Bushell followed by questions
  10. Close of AGM

Monday 9 February 2015

CS2 Upgrade - Works start today for 58 weeks.

A busy Mile End Road with "expect delays" signage

Work started this morning and continues for the next 58 weeks on upgrading the existing Cycle Superhighway Route Number 2 (aka CS2U).

I've scoured the web to find changes made to the route as a result of the Autumn consultation. Unfortunately the views of local people, including cyclists, regarding the MEOTRA section of the route have been ignored. In contrast, the section through Whitechapel has been altered significantly much to the dismay of cycling groups.

Obviously the introduction of two banned turns at the Mile End junction is highly contentious. Indeed TfL seem to be the only ones who like them! Poor Starbucks have only just opened at Mile End, but surely their outdoor table and chairs will have to go when the pavement halves in width. The report submitted to the TfL board last week has this to say about our turf: 

Some features of the proposals which received negative feedback
during the public consultation have been retained. The most notable of these are:
(a) The proposed banned turns from Mile End Road into Burdett Road and from
Burdett Road into Mile End Road, Stepney Green and Leman Street to
remain, as to remove these would increase traffic queuing and there would
not be enough space for the cycle facility
(b) Taxi bay removed outside Mile End station and relocated in order to provide
a bus stop outside the station entrance.
(c) The un-segregated section adjacent to Bancroft Road to remain in the
proposals. Although using the land outside the Ocean Estate is outside the
scope of CS2U, TfL will discuss the potential for future highway widening
and potential for segregated cycle lanes with the London Borough of Tower
Hamlets, the Ocean Estate and other interested parties
(d) Bus stop bypasses remain in the proposals as a means of reducing the
potential for cyclist/bus conflict. Monitoring of the bus stop bypasses on
Cycle Superhighway route 2 at Stratford has found that only two interactions
out of 1,535 passing cycle movements resulted in the potential for a collision
with a pedestrian. No injury collisions have been recorded since these bypasses have been implemented.

The detailed results of the initial TfL consultation can be found here.

The screen grab below shows how the focus of the works will change over the 58 weeks. I guess at least MEOTRA gets done first although this will take from February to August. As far as I can tell the chestnut trees along Mile End Road are safe, although one tree on the Southern-side of Mile End Rd (near Coborn Street) is due to be felled.

The second screen grab illustrates the expected congestion, not helped of course by the loss of a lane on Burdett Road due to the Crossrail work.

A map of Bow/Mile End illustrating the delays TfL expect during construction of the CS2U

So batten down the hatches, We've 58 weeks of disruption on its way. Lovebox weekend should be even more fun this year.

Sunday 8 February 2015

David vs Goliath - the story of Wickham vs Spiegelhalters, AND Boris vs Lutfur

the modern exterior of the old Wickham vs Spiegelhalters buildings

Many residents may already be familiar with the story of Wickham vs Spiegelhalters, but for those of you who haven't heard it, Ian Nairn in Nairn's London (1966) puts it thus:

"Messrs Wickham, circa 1920, wanted an emporium. Messrs Spiegelhalter, one infers, wouldn't sell out. Messrs Wickham, one infers further, pressed on regardless, thereby putting their Baroque tower badly out of centre. Messrs Spiegelhalter ('The East End Jewellers') remain; two stucco'd storeys, surrounded on both sides by giant columns à la Selfridges. The result is one of the best visual jokes in London, a perennial triumph for the little man, the bloke who won't conform. May he stay there till the Bomb falls."
The Save Spiegelhalters Campaign seeks to preserve this loveable East End shopfront. You can support the campaign by signing the petition at It only takes a few seconds.

Just a few hundred metres east along the road it seems a second monument to the little man is about to take shape. Boris Johnson's Cycle Superhighways aim to transform cycling in London, with one route whisking cyclists all the way from Bow Roundabout to Paddington along segregated cycle lanes. Well there is one exception: a 30 metre patch of this marathon-like route, just beside the Ocean Estate is unsegregated. Why? Well it seems the mighty Boris, Mayor of London and his Goliath TfL are scared of taking on the modern day David that is Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of the Tower Hamlets. All we're talking is a 30m x 2m strip of land.

Map showing the unsegregated section of CS2U
The unsegregated section lies between the "l" and "n" of "Mile End" in the map above. you might need a magnifying glass.

Art Pavilion: New series of Exhibitions

The Bow Geezers "The Last Supper" painting

Residents may be interested in the forthcoming Spring Programme of Exhibitions that has just been announced at the Art Pavilion in Clinton Road, located behind the artistic delight that is the Texaco Garage in Grove Road.

The Art Pavilion is open on most exhibition days from 11am – 7pm.  
Entry to exhibitions is FREE.

14th – 22nd February 2015, Daily 11–7pm

Private View : Friday 13th February 7 – 9pm including a performance by musical artist Catherine Kontz of her opera happening “Twitching”

Artwork from the Misbehaviour exhibition"Misbehaviour" is a group art exhibition featuring work by artists from Britain, Germany, France, Slovenia, Portugal, New Zealand and the United States and explores responses to the theme of misbehaviour. 

While some artworks are playful responses to the theme of, others explore the dynamics between the financial crisis and the riots, the numbing effect of witnessing international conflict on television or the struggle to conform to behavioural expectations as experienced by people with autism. The exhibition features artworks by the group ArtEast at the Bromley by Bow Community Centre and the community arts project Southbank Mosaics in Lambeth.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of talks, workshops and interactive music/dance. The Bow men's group "The Geezers" will be introducing their current project exploring the effects of the disappearance of pubs and social life in the area.

Between Faith and Art Thursday 5th March – Sunday 29th March 2015, Tuesday to Sunday 11-7pm.  Late opening on Thursdays until 9pm

How relevant is religion today? And how relevant is it for contemporary art? This is a large collaborative show with international artists which focuses on the relevance of religion in our society today, and the relevance of religion in contemporary art expressions and how artists choose to approach the purposely broad umbrella very individually. Launch event on Thursday 5th March as part of the Whitechapel Gallery’s First Thursdays Programme, with a formal opening from 6-9pm. Many of the artists will be present including Norwegian artists Benjamin Ellingsen and Tara Rolfsen and UK based artists Kris Emmerson and Dallas Seitz. In addition, curator Synnove Ellingsen who will perform an excerpt from a performance piece in the directly adjacent Art Park called "Meet Me At Checkpoint Eternity".

PhotoSpeak ‘Changing Faces’  Thursday 16th – Friday 24th April 2015, 11–7pm
A portrait photo featured in the Photospeak "Changing Faces" exhibition. PhotoSpeak 'Changing Faces' is a collection of very special portraits, self portraits and photographs revealing the essence of 15 East London families. taken over 12 weeks by members of those families. A colourful and personal insight into the photographers, their loved ones and their world. 

Due to the vast range of ages taking part in the project we can see clearly and honestly, ways in which our communities have changed through the generations and what it is that truly makes our communities what they are. 

'PhotoSpeak' Changing Faces' was led by Artist Liz Clough, Photographer Jacqueline McCullough and Theatre Practitioner Leanne Mcleish. It was hosted by Community Links and sponsored by the London Legacy Development Corporation and London & Quadrant. 

Initially PhotoSpeak was a project designed by community education specialist Trina Geasley, and aimed to combat issues affecting local women by applying a community education method to the running of a photography project. 

It ran for the first time in 2013. Working with 8 local women, Artist Liz Clough, photographer Jacqueline Mccullough and Community Education Specialist Trina Geasley ran a 10 week project rooted in respect and collaboration between all those involved. It culminated in beautiful photographic portraits of 50 East London women. The beauty of the project was its true representation and celebration of real women in real communities in London, created not by one Artist but by members of those communities. An empowering and unusual method of working and one that has been continued throughout the latest project. 

Conversations took place with over 100 women and their hopes for a future generation were recorded. It was this text that truly illuminated their portraits and touched those who came to see them. 

An exhibition and a book published about the project was officially launched by the London Legacy Development Corporation at their premises in Stratford