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 info@meotra.org.uk 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

Monday 16 July 2018

Mile End Park Community Fair and Dog Show: This Sunday 22nd July 11-4PM

Flyer highlighting the range of activities at Mile End Park's Community Fair and Dog Show

This year's Park Life is just 5 days away and is going to be jam-packed with something for everyone. It takes place just off Grove Road between the Texaco Garage and the Brittania Fish Bar.

Activities Galore
Face Painting | The Ice Run Adventure | The Horizontal Bungee | Go Karts |
Coconut Shy | Fair Rides | Bouncy Castle | Inflatable Mid Dragon Slide
Climbing Wall | Inflatable 5-a-side Football Pitch | Jewellery Making | Rollapaluza

Bric-a-Brac | PDSA Advice Stall | Friends of Mile End Park | Arts and Crafts 

East End WI with Cakes galore and teas and drinks | Smoothie Bikes
 Ice Cream Van | Onion Bhajis & Samosas

And of Course The Dog Show with the following categories:
            1. Most Fabulous Fella
            2. Loveliest Lady
            3. Most Endearing Rescue Dog
            4. Most Courageous Golden Oldie (7 and over)
            5. Best Puppy (under 12 months)
            6. Best Trick
            7. Look-a-like (Dog most like their owner)
            8. Egg and spoon race (dog on lead)*
Prize rosettes for the top four in each category with each winner receiving a gift donated by Hounds of Bow. Each category winner will be entered into the Best in Show competition at the end to win a trophy.

This year we will again be running Dog Agility demos and try-outs. So bring fido and see how he likes our agility course courtesy of Friendly Creatures.

*Still working on this one, but it is likely to be a "treat and spoon" race with a statutory sit halfway. No eating the treat until the end!

Monday 2 July 2018

Park Life 2018: Mile End Park Community Fair and Dog Show -Sunday 22nd July

Flyer for the FRiends of Mile End Park Community Fair and Dog Show

Just three weeks to go until the 2018 Park Life Festival: Community Fair and Dog Show. Put the date in your diary - do people still use diaries?

We will be sending out more info soon. But it looks like it will be the biggest festival we have put on in years with something for everyone.