Monday 31 December 2018

Just Breathe

A montage of photos illustrating air pollution issues affecting Bow and beyond
More than just hot air?

This last month or so has seen a flurry of local policy announcements, meetings and activities concerning traffic and pollution and these topics will likely come to the fore in our neighbourhood in 2019/2020. This article looks at borough and London-wide initiatives that will undoubtedly affect MEOTRA. Articles later this week will look at measuring pollution in our neighbourhood and news of the new Superhighway coming our way.

A recent study in The Lancet Public Health showed that children within Tower Hamlets exposed to air pollution have significantly smaller lung volume (a loss of approximately 5%) and this puts them at greater risk of developing lifelong breathing disorders. 

Studies such as the above make worrying reading, but things are being done to hopefully address this issue both London and borough-wide and even on the ward level. I thought it might be worth looking at some of these.

Low Emission Bus Zones
12 of these are being introduced across London "in the worst air quality hotspots outside central London" with one being the "Stratford Zone" which is the section of the A11 between Ilford and Mile End. They will all be completed by the end of 2019. Unfortunately, it does seem to stop at Mile End Station and so the D7/D6/277/339 won't be part of it.

As a footnote to this, Route 25 no longer runs between City Thameslink and Oxford Circus. On a positive, the number 25 has stopped parking up in Grove Road and also in the Grove Road turn-around. MEOTRA campaigned heavily to stop these congestion/pollution causing practices.

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)
From 8th April 2019 the ULEZ will replace the T-charge. It will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year, within the same area as the current Congestion Zone. It will be £12.50 for most vehicles and will be in addition to the weekday Congestion Charge.

From 25 October 2021, the ULEZ area will be expanded to include the Inner London area bounded by the North and South Circular Roads.

Nurseries in Tower Hamlets to have air pollution tests
Alice Model Nursery School in Stepney Green and Columbia Market Nursery School in Bethnal Green will be having audits to check levels of pollution inside and outside. This follows on from the counterintuitive results from a University College London/University of Cambridge study that found pollution was significantly higher inside classrooms.

New Penalties for Idling Engines
Tower Hamlets Council is slapping £20 fines on drivers who leave their engine running when they are parked, and the penalty will go up to £40 if it isn’t paid in 28 days. They are also looking for volunteers to act as local Air Quality Champions. 

Introducing "School Streets"
In mid-December Salmon Street, off Salmon Lane, which leads up to Sir William Burrough Primary school became Tower Hamlets first school street. "School Streets" are schemes where roads outside some schools are closed to traffic at set times in the morning and afternoon. Vehicles are not allowed to enter the street unless they have an exemption. These schemes discourage car journeys to school, reduce traffic, improve air quality and encourage walking and cycling to school. Implementation varies borough-to-borough, but they are frequently introduced as 6-9 month trials. The schemes only operate during term time. Coborn Street would seem a likely candidate as it contains Malmesbury Primary School.

Saturday 15 December 2018

Meotra Carols - Tomorrow at 5PM in Tredegar Square

Cartoon of snowmen singing Carols

Tomorrow is Meotra's Annual Carol Service at 5pm in Tredegar Square. This is always a great event. Come and join us and get your Christmas off to a, hopefully, tuneful start.

We have printed and laminated around 150 carol sheets, mince pies are being cooked, mulled wine is on its way and Father Christmas is busy wrapping presents for the little ones. 

The weather is looking sort of alright (you try typing with crossed fingers), but we will be there whatever the weather!

Please enter via the North Gate where we will be handing out carol sheets, bring a torch if you can and an umbrella would probably be a good idea too!

After the carols, we will be collecting [cash] for Bow Foodbank and then we are migrating to The Lord Tredegar at the invite of the new managers, who have also offered to make a donation to Bow Foodbank.

Thursday 15 November 2018

Tredegar Square bulb planting - Saturday 16th Nov 10-1

Photomontage showing the planting spots within Tredegar Square Gardens

This Saturday MEOTRA are planting some bulbs in the two fenced off areas of Tredegar Square starting at 10am and finishing by 1PM. We have around 400 hyacinth bulbs, some daffs and snowdrops.

Please do come and join us if you can, if only for a while. It is usually a nice friendly occasion and a good chance to meet your neighbours.

We have quite a lot of tools including gloves, hand trowels, both long-handled and regular bulb planters, some foam kneeling mats and even have a couple of augers with cordless electric drills that make easy work of solid ground.

If you prefer to use your own kit please do. Some compost would be helpful if you have some spare!

The other week three of us managed to plant 2000 bulbs in Mile End Park in just a few hours and so don't be put off by 400-odd!

The weather forecast is looking pretty good for Saturday (and Sunday). After the planting, we'll probably go to The Coffee Room for refreshments and a chat.

If there is the time we might do some weeding and planting a few bulbs in the area we overhauled last year. The area is looking a bit "tired" as they say.

A circular flower bed within Tredegar Square Gardens

Thursday 25 October 2018

Events this Weekend in Mile End Park: Bulb planting | Bat Walk | Windrush Exhibition: Portrait of a Generation

Flyer for Mile End Park's Bat Walk

This weekend there is a FREE guided Bat Walk in Mile End Park. Use a bat detector to listen to the sounds of these wonderful mammals as they hunt for their prey. Led by Ken "Batman" Greenway. This FREE event starts at 5.15PM promptly by the Ecology Pavilion. More details are available here.  

Bulb Planting in the Woodland Walk.

Mile End Park's Chris' Wood awash with bluebells

This Friday and Sunday, the Friends of Mile End Park are holding a couple of bulb-planting sessions in the section of woodland between Grove Road and Mile End Climbing Wall beside the railway. 

The idea is to plant bluebells, 6,000 of them in the next week or two. Further plantings of bluebells "in the green" in the late spring and another batch next Autumn will hopefully lead to a large rich carpet of bluebells that we can all enjoy every mid-April-May.

If you would like to come and help out then please email or just turn up. Further details below.

Aerial Map of Mile End PArk showing the area where bluebells will be planted
Event Details
Location: The woodland area between Grove Road and the Mile End Climbing Wall (shaded light blue in the map above).
When: FRIDAY: 11.30-3PM; SUNDAY: 10-12 or until the bulbs run out! 
Equipment: A range of tools and equipment are available, but if you have your own (gardening gloves/bulb planter, etc) then you are welcome to bring them. Please wear sturdy/non-precious footwear. 

If you want to pop along for just half an hour or so, even if it is just to give moral support, then please do.

Windrush: Portrait of A Generation (finishing this Sunday)

Last but not least, the outstanding exhibition Windrush: Portrait of a Generation is in its last few days at the Art Pavilion and finishes on Sunday. If you haven't seen it yet, it is well worth a visit.
Flyer for Mile End Park's Art Pavilion exhibition: "Windrush: Portrait of a Generation"VTe

Monday 24 September 2018

Kingsley Hall - 90th Anniversary Celebrations

Kingsley Hall continues its 90th anniversary celebrations this week and on into early October with a series of free events with music, dance, tours, exhibitions and memories.

One of the events "Common Women" is being put on by the Bow Drama Group a number of whom are also MEOTRA residents. 

Friday 28th
4.00 - 9.00 pm 3 Bees Café open
3.00 - 4.45 pm Bromley by Bow: in the Footsteps of Muriel and Doris Lester
Join prize-winning Blue Badge guide Rachel Kolsky and discover the fascinating history of Bromley by Bow. Starts at Bromley by Bow Station and ends with a tour of Kingsley Hall.
Book in advance at Eventbrite:

7.30 - 10.00 pm
Bow Drama Group: Common Women
Staged reading of a play by Jill Truman, with songs. (30 minutes interval)
Women made a protest against nuclear weapons back in the 1980s. They set up camp in the open air at the gates of Greenham Common missile base. There they resisted for years through winter cold, mud, and police rough handling. In this play, a woman who was there shows what it was like.

In spite of critical praise such as: “…a lively drama which explores wider feminist issues with wit and sensitivity”  Time Out… and “…a vital and moving experience in theatre”  The Stage, there has been no performance since the first London Fringe run in 1991 under the original title “The Web”
Tower Hamlets Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has been meeting for many years in Kingsley Hall, where Gandhi stayed in the thirties, and taking part in many actions for world peace.   New Members Welcome   

Photo of the Lester sisters

Saturday 29th - Kingsley Strings - Music for Muriel and Doris
2.30 pm - 4.00 pm The Cookham Quartet accompanies refreshments in the Café.
4.00 pm - 4.45 pm Why Kingsley Hall? - a talk exploring the Lester sisters’ work, with pictures from the Muriel Lester Archive.
5.00 pm - 5.45 pm The Cookham Quartet play the Peter Pan Suite by Henry Walford Davies, composer and broadcaster, who laid the Stone of Music when building started at Kingsley Hall in 1927. (Main Hall)
6.00 pm - 6.45 pm Light meals in the Café
7.00 pm - 8.15 pm The Auralio String Quartet play two quartet movements by suffragette composer Dame Ethel Smyth, plus Bollywood tunes, a Cockney singalong, and more… (15 minutes interval)
2.30 pm - 9.00 pm 3 Bees Café open

Photo of the Lester sisters on holiday

 Tuesday 2nd October
3.00 pm - 4.30 pm You are invited to join us to open the World Peace Pathway in the Kingsley Hall Peace Garden.
Stones or sand from every country in the world have been placed under the Path. At its centre is a solar-powered World Peace Flame light, symbolising the healing light of peace, and words for peace in different languages are carved on the outer circle of the Pathway.
Please walk around the world and add your prayers, hopes and wishes for peace.

7.00 - 10.00 pm Eastbeat, a night of poetry and music; El Salvador Vencera, remembering Phillip Wearne and Henry Bran

Kingsley Hall, Powys Road, E3 3HJ
Five minutes from Bow Church DLR, Bromley-by-Bow tube, Bow Flyover A11/A12, Bow Church bus stop 8,25,108,205,276,425,488,D8. Street parking.
Disabled access.    07739 277 298

Monday 6 August 2018

Mile End Junction is the worst in Tower Hamlets for Road Safety

Photo of the HEMS helicopter taking off from Mile End Junction following a traffic accident.

On Monday, representatives from MEOTRA, together with locals from Mile End Ward, met with Unmesh Desai, London Assembly member for the City of London and East London; Councillors from Bow West and Mile End wards and three representatives from TfL. The meeting was primarily to discuss the no right turns at Mile End Junction, but MEOTRA and others also emphasised a large number of issues that have subsequently arisen.

It was useful to have the meeting onsite, with issues literally appearing in front of us one after the other as if it was a carefully rehearsed stage production (Up The Junction?).

TfL stated that Mile End Junction is the worst in Tower Hamlets for road safety  (yes even AFTER all the safety measures of CS2U).

Here's a summary of the issues discussed:

Removing the ban on No Right Turns. Residents detailed the significant inconvenience this causes to locals. Although residents make an effort to walk or use bikes/public transport, there are times (the weekly shop for instance) when many feel they have no option but to drive and reluctantly make U-turns on busy roads. They are aware this leads to extra pollution and congestion, but why should locals suffer all the inconvenience and not "through traffic"? The response from The London Mayor's office to the petition which sparked this meeting makes for interesting reading on the whole "no right turns" issue and states:
" the north-south alignment through this junction forms part of a new proposed cycle route between Hackney and the Isle of Dogs (see below). As part of the development of this new route, TfL will review this junction in detail and consider whether any changes are required as part of this process".
Pedestrians have difficulty crossing Mile End Road safety. Cllr Val Whitehead detailed how, as through traffic is prioritised by the CS2U works, pedestrians now have to wait an excessively long time to cross by Mile End Station. Similarly at the Junction itself. TfL indicated that there has been an increase in collisions in the Mile End vicinity involving pedestrians since the upgrade and that this spot had the worst road safety record in Tower Hamlets. TfL are looking at how to increase road safety here as a priority. MEOTRA emphasised how difficult the Mile End Junction is to "read" since the upgrade works. MEOTRA have asked to see the detailed accident figures. Aware that TfL are decreasing the speed on some of their roads, locals present asked that Mile End Road be reduced to 20mph. 

National Express/ Terravision/ Easybus Coaches. The TfL reps themselves noted that coaches pulling up either side of Mile End Road by the station really block the roads up. They witnessed eastbound traffic backing up right across the junction and are aware coaches use Grove Road frequently if Whitechapel has traffic issues. TfL is considering moving these stops (a little) so they are separate to the regular [red] bus stops.

Number 25 bus terminating at Mile End Station. TfL observed first-hand the large numbers doing this and how they fill the Grove Road bus stand up, cause extra congestion as they make multiple crossings of the junction with multiple lane changes. They were told about how once the stand is full, buses park up along Grove Road having driven up to Victoria Park to turn around. This results in unnecessary traffic and pollution.

Vehicles passing across the junction twice. Large numbers of 25 busses terminating at Mile End, together with the phenomena of vehicles achieving right turns via a sequence of left and U-turns, has led to an increase in vehicles crossing the junction TWICE. This obviously causes unnecessary pollution and traffic.

D7 Bus offloading in Burdett Road.  The senselessness of northbound D7 buses terminating in Burdett Road, kicking everyone off and then driving empty over the junction to the bus stand was highlighted. MEOTRA asked that the D7 bus terminate at the bus stand so passengers can easily switch to connecting services (e.g. 425 and 339). TfL will look at this.

Vehicles doing U-turns in Mile End Road and Grove Road. The serious danger and disruption this causes was highlighted.

Hackney to Isle of Dogs Cycle Superhighway. Proposals for this new route are likely to go out for consultation early in the New Year. All the locals present (including the councillors) emphasised how vital it is that this scheme doesn't repeat and compound the problems of the existing CS2U route: Rat runs; U-turns, increased pollution; increased traffic etc.

MEOTRA stated that residents felt they had been duped in the previous consultation: Questions had asked responders to gauge their level of support on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being "oppose" and 5 being "support". TfL had counted any responses ticking "2", "3" or "4" as being supportive too, which is frankly deceitful. MEOTRA and Mile End Ward residents both stated that following the use of such clandestine methods, TfL now had considerable work to do to gain the trust of residents.

Pollution monitoring. No measurements of pollution levels before or after the CS2 upgrade works were made. MEOTRA insisted [and TfL agreed] that pollution changes have to be measured when the new superhighway is rolled out. MEOTRA stated that our own preliminary pollution measurements [over three months] show pollution levels near the junction to be more than twice the EU limit.

Low Emission Bus Zones. Mayor Khan has announced a number of Low Emission Bus Zones which will see the exclusive use of buses with top-of-the-range engines and exhaust systems that meet or exceed the highest Euro VI emissions standards. One of these zones, covering the stretch Mile End to Romford, is due to be completed by 2019 and applies to routes 425 and 25. Whilst this is good news, MEOTRA highlighted that according to the published map this zone stops short of Mile End Junction and so buses on routes D6, D7, 277, 323 and 339 will not have to meet these standards. Unmesh Desai asked that TfL consider MEOTRA's suggestion to extend the zone to include Mile End Junction.

Rat Running. Since CS2U there has been an increase in rat running. This also corresponds to the growth in the use of Apps such as Waze to help drivers unfamiliar with an area (aka through traffic) avoid traffic jams in real time. TfL acknowledged this and said they had had a meeting with LBTH about this issue on the 24th July. TfL/LBTH are going to work together to see if they can resolve/minimise this issue.

Overall it was a very productive meeting and had a much better atmosphere to the one MEOTRA had with TfL during the upgrade works Both of us representing MEOTRA left feeling that TfL will work with us to try and overcome these numerous issues.

No more long articles for a while. I promise!

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Benjy's Towers Development Goes to a Public Enquiry

A artist's impression of the proposed "Benjy's Towers" development

The proposal to build a part 3/8/12-storey development at the Mile End Road/Burdett Road junction on the site of the Benjy's nightclub has resurfaced with the launch of a public inquiry by the developer.

To see the details of the appeal on the government's planning inspectorate website click here and then enter the reference number 3204874 in the "search for a case" box on the right-hand side of the webpage. 

To remind yourself of the details of the development look at the Tower Hamlets planning website and search for the application using this reference number: PA/16/00943 (the application now stretches to some 210 documents).

The Appellant's Statement is particularly useful to read as this includes a summary of the grounds on which LBTH refused the application and the appellant's criticisms of them. Any additional evidence or opinion which supports the grounds for rejection by LBTH would be especially valuable.

Previously MEOTRA wrote a letter of objection and the same points still hold:

  1. The building is too tall
  2. Dwelling Sizes
  3. Flexible business use
  4. Space for loading
  5. Microclimate
What do you think of the scheme? Please let us know your thoughts and we will endeavour to include them at the public enquiry.

All representations must be received by 17/08/2018 and so please get in touch ASAP. (Yes yet another planning deadline during the holiday period!).

For those unfamiliar with the public enquiry process then this government document is helpful. The key dates are shown below. 


Start date
 06 July 2018
Submission of questionnaire
 31 July 2018
Deadline for comments from interested parties

17 August 2018
Submission of statement of case (Local
Planning Authority) 
17 August 2018
Submission of statement of case Rule 6(6) party (if applicable)

Pre-inquiry meeting (if applicable)
(time, date and venue)
Submission of statement of common ground
20 November 2018
Submission of proofs of evidence  
18 December 2018
Witness names and anticipated duration for:

       opening and closing statements
       evidence in chief
       cross-examination of other parties’ witnesses

Copy of LPA event notification letter

28 December 2018
Inquiry (time, date and venue)
15 January 2019
Council to arrange venue as soon as possible
Estimated number of sitting days
Decision issued on or before (Inspector decided cases)  

(Public Enquiry Inspector: J Gregory BSc (Hons) BTP MRTPI MCMI)

Tuesday 31 July 2018

The Trouble with TfL....

A huge line of parked up TfL buses along Grove road

You want to catch the 277 down to Cineworld so you go along to your local bus stop. There's a bus there already, but the lights are off and, oh the driver is having a snooze on the backseat (nice and warm from the engine). Oh well, there's another coming along, but it isn't a 277, it's a 25? It pulls up and then the driver stands up and rolls the indicator round so you can't see the number anymore. He switches the engine off and he too then files down the gangway onto the backseat.

It's a struggle to see the traffic coming along now with the parked buses in the way. so you stand up and find yourself running along as a third bus comes into view. No! Not another 25! He performs the same lights off/hide the number/shuffle to the back routine. And then you see it, at last, your 277! But he has nowhere to stop and besides can he see you? - he goes straight past. 

The above is a fairly common occurrence now the number 25 bus has started to terminate every other vehicle at Mile End. The lucky ones get to park up in the Grove Road bus turnaround, but that soon fills up and so they have taken to using regular bus stops as illegal bus stands. They drive all the way up to The Crown roundabout, do a U-turn and then park on the Southbound side of Grove Road. The fact the number 25 doesn't even stop in Grove Road makes it all the more irksome.

MEOTRA have discussed this phenomenon with our local councillors and they will pass it on to our local GLA member. MEOTRA have written to TfL but had no response. It has certainly added to the traffic in Grove Road, most noticeably when the number 25 pulls out of the Grove Road bus stand and holds traffic up.

Of course, TfL did a consultation into the changes to the number 25 route: 

A copy of the consultation letter from TfL regarding bus routes in Bow

It was a poor consultation. It asked for opinions on changes to TWENTY ONE bus routes dotted all over London. So if you are neutral about the 20 you don't know about, then TfL count that as support. One thing I noticed was it was being done retrospectively. The changes had already happened long before the consultation was emailed out by TfL. I have the photos to prove it! The number 25 drivers were already using Grove Road as a doss house. The consultation made no mention of buses parking up all around Grove Road. It left the consultee to work out how TfL was going to solve the puzzle of more buses west of Mile End and more east of Stratford but fewer in between.  MEOTRA objected to the changes

So that was some 18 months ago. Why go on about it now? Well in a recent meeting with councillors we discussed 11 items of concern to MEOTRA - of these, 7 are "TfL issues" mostly resulting from the CS2U cycle route. MEOTRA needs to get better at engaging with TfL. They seem to affect our lives more than the council do. 

TfL is now designing a new Cycle SuperHighway from Hackney to the Isle of Dogs via Mile End:

Surveyors with theodolites along Grove Road.

One has to hope that TfL won't just steamroller this project through ignoring the views of residents. There is some hope: construction of the Superhighway 11 in Swiss Cottage due to start yesterday has been halted pending a judicial review. Residents in that part of London have questioned TfL's traffic modelling and claim TfL has underestimated the extra traffic and congestion with Westminster's Environment chief stating: 

"We are worried that CS11 will cause traffic displacement, increase congestion and lead to poorer air quality". 

MEOTRA share similar concerns regarding TfL's numerous projects around Mile End.

Saturday 28 July 2018

Tower Hamlets Summer Activities 2018 - More than 165 FREE activities

Link to the LBTH Summer Activities booklet

Tower Hamlets Council has released its booklet detailing over 165 free activities for children, young people, adults and the whole family with many taking place in Mile End Park

Knowing how to keep children and young people entertained through the school holidays can sometimes be daunting especially when things can cost so much. This extensive range of fantastic, free and low-cost activities will keep everyone happy, without needing to spend a fortune.

For the full programme click here.

Traffic Calming Plans for Harley Grove

Mayor John Biggs, Cllr Val Whiteread and pupils look at traffic calming plans
CFGS pupils meet Mayor Biggs & Cllr Whiteread

In early June the council consulted on a scheme for traffic calming on Harley Grove and neighbouring streets including Coborn Street. The proposed scheme developed by Project Centre with the help of pupils from Central Foundation Girls’ School (CFGS) seeks to address ongoing traffic and safety concerns.

In the last year alone there were five crashes on Harley Grove, three involving vehicles failing to give way at the junction with Bow Road.

The options under consideration include:

  1. Making Coborn Street one-way northbound 
  2. One-way anticlockwise movement on Harley Grove
  3. Narrowing the road at the junction of Harley Grove and Bow Road to discourage stopping/waiting on double red lines
  4. Right turn ban at the junctions of Harley Grove and Alfred Street onto Bow Road
  5. A school travel plan to encourage parents and pupils to travel to school by public transport, walking and cycling, reducing vehicle pickup and drop-off.
  6. Wire-frame bollards with human figures are proposed at the top of Harley Grove (junction with Bow Road) and outside the entrance to the school to raise awareness to drivers of the students crossing, create a gateway to the scheme and to give a uniqueness to the area.

Whilst it is great that pupils are getting involved with a project that will improve the environment around their school, MEOTRA residents and others have a number of concerns about the proposals. We have written an objection letter:
"MEOTRA objects to the proposal to impose one-way traffic on Coborn Street. There would be a deleterious effect on Coborn Road, which can barely cope with the traffic it takes at the moment. The traffic comes largely from the connection of Mile End Road via Tredegar Road to the A12, and partially to the connection of Mile End Road to Roman Road and its hinterland. 
Problems also arise from too many people bringing children to Malmesbury Primary School by car.
If there are to be any changes to the traffic system in the area, there should be a wider examination of traffic and pollution in the area, carried out in conjunction with local residents. 
Harley Grove stands in the Tredegar Square Conservation Area, and brightly coloured paving would detract from the historic quality of the Conservation Area. The whole scheme should be submitted for Conservation Area Approval."
The local cycling group, the Tower Hamlets Wheelers, has also objected to the proposed scheme and have suggested, rather than introducing one-way systems (which generally increase traffic speeds - not a good idea near schools), that both Harley Grove and Coborn Street are closed to motor traffic at their junctions with Bow Road. They also suggest that these roads are made into School Streets (ie they are closed to non-residents' vehicles at school run times).

When the MEOTRA committee recently met with our local councillors they indicated the proposals are very unlikely to go through, i.e. Coborn Street will not become one way. One factor being the highly undesirable effect the scheme would have on the pupils of Phoenix School who have very specific school transport needs.

Friday 27 July 2018

A Meeting with our local councillors: Asma Begum and Val Whitehead

Photo of Asma Begum and Val Whitehead
Cllrs Asma Begum and Val Whitehead

Recently the MEOTRA committee had a wide-ranging meeting with Asma Begum and Val Whitehead our local Bow West councillors. A large number of hyperlocal issues were discussed including:
  1. Traffic calming plans for Harley Grove
  2. “Benjy’s Towers”
  3. Rat running
  4. Through traffic 
  5. Speed bumps in Clinton Road
  6. Idling vehicles
  7. U-turns in Mile End and Grove Roads
  8. Mile End Junction
  9. Increased bus and coach traffic
  10. Cycling – Cycle parking; the new Hackney to Isle of Dogs Superhighway
  11. Pollution -both air and noise

Reading that lot back it shows how dominant traffic and planning are in our thoughts about the neighbourhood. MEOTRA are concerned that planners (and that includes TfL as well as LBTH) are not adopting a holistic approach to planning.

Over the next week or so this website will be looking at most of these issues in a series of articles. As ever, please feel free to email if you wish to add to the discussion and I will circulate it to the other committee members.

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Gypsy Moth Caterpillars Pay a Visit to Tredegar Square

The Tredegar Square Gardens beech hedge showing the clear "caterpillar line"

At the beginning of June when grass was still green and with just a few weeks to go until our Fun Day, we started to receive emails about the beech hedge in the Square being eaten alive.

A friend from Roman Road who walks through the Square noticed the hedge being consumed and saw the "wave" move from one end to the other over the course of a week. It went from green to brown in a week.
A close up of the beech hedge in Tredegar Square Gardens

MEOTRA dispatched a team of reporters and after a double-take realised it was due to hundreds of caterpillars. In fact, you could actually hear them munching away at the leaves like someone scrunching newspaper. Worried they might be "toxic caterpillars" MEOTRA contacted John Archer, Tower Hamlets Biodiversity Officer and we were relieved to hear they were Gypsy Moth caterpillars rather than Oak Processionary moth caterpillars which have been making news with their infestation of London this summer.

Although harmless to people, the Gypsy Moth caterpillar species is regarded as a pest of trees. It was once a common native species in East Anglia, but became extinct there. Since 1995 it has been established in parts of London, whether from natural arrivals from Europe or accidental introductions is uncertain. DEFRA tried unsuccessfully to eradicate it, and it’s now resident in scattered areas of SE England. 

Now, some six weeks later the grass is the colour of straw, whilst the beech hedge is green again, and the  Gypsy Moths seem to have moved on.

The council will monitor the hedge and see whether they should take any action.

The beautiful colouring of the gypsy moth caterpillar seen in close up

Caterpillar alongside an adult thumb (for scale)

Gypsy moth munching on the beech hedge