Where you can get help, and how you can help out locally this winter.
As we enter winter, many families are facing the double whammy of increased heating and electric bills alongside further restrictions from the pandemic and potential job losses.
While the Government U-turn on free school meals during the Christmas holidays and the extension of the furlough scheme are both very welcome, support will be needed beyond half term, and the Christmas holidays are likely to be another pinch point for many families.
We have collated a list of resources and organisations working locally to support families who may be struggling in the holidays and in winter more generally. This is not exhaustive, so please let us know if there are other organisations that should be featured.
[image credit - Google streetview].
Waltham Forest Council is considering plans from a private developer to build almost 600 homes on the Homebase site at the junction of Forest Road and Fulbourne Road. WFLDs support the construction of high-quality homes to meet our current housing crisis, but the current plans fall short of the standards set out by the Council. Read the letter to the planning committee from our housing and planning spokesperson, Thomas Addenbrooke, below.
An open letter from our Services and Innovation spokesperson, Ciara Simmons.
All of the libraries in Waltham Forest are currently closed. The council says that this is due to the government guidance on coronavirus, although most non-essential shops are now open.
While it is great to see that there is now the option to order the delivery of library books and limited services available online, this is of no help to the many people in the borough either without internet access or who are not familiar with how to use it.
According to the latest Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index, 9 million people in the UK cannot undertake basic activities such as turning on a device, connecting to Wi-Fi or opening an app by themselves and 3.6 million are completely offline. The report concludes that it is the most vulnerable and disadvantaged who are the most likely to be digitally excluded, including the elderly and those on low incomes.
In any event, libraries do not just exist to provide books. They give access to a whole range of community services, from careers advice to visitor parking permits, and help to level the playing field in society.
For the sake of the many residents who rely on them, I would urge the council to reopen our libraries as soon as possible.
Ciara Simmons, Walthamstow
Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats, Spokesperson for Services and Innovation
Image credit: This image was originally posted to Flickr by JuliaC2006 at https://flickr.com/photos/81269484@N00/15082235981. It was reviewed on 21 July 2018 by FlickreviewR 2 and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.
The latest from Caroline Pidgeon AM
Earlier this month we saw the introduction of the compulsory wearing of face masks on public transport throughout the whole of England. However, a further change is the restrictions on the older person’s Freedom Pass and the 60+ London Oyster photocard. All passengers with an Older Person's Freedom Pass, 60+ Oyster photocard or English National Concessionary Scheme pass will not be able to use them during morning peak hours, which is 04:30 to 09:00 Monday to Friday. (The Freedom Pass for disabled people will stay unaltered).
And more changes are on the way.
From Monday 22 June TfL is proposing that the Congestion Charge will increase to £15 and hours will be extended, operating from 07:00 to 22:00, seven days a week. They are also proposing to close the residents' discount for the Congestion Charge to new applications from August 1st.
Then, from September, free travel for under 18 year olds will be ended, with the Department for Transport claiming special arrangements will be made to ensure children eligible under national legislation can still travel to school for free.
The reason for all these changes that are being imposed just on London is due to policies being set by central government in its bailout deal for Transport for London. The full details of this bailout deal have now been published and can be seen here. Scroll down to page 63. And for anyone who wants a detailed understanding of TfL’s financial difficulties this is an excellent article.
Of course national government has a right to set some terms or conditions on any loan or grant it offers to TfL, but many of these conditions are petty and simply attempting to micro-manage how TfL operates. Similar conditions have not been imposed on other transport authorities around the country.
Under these changes, and many other conditions set by the Government, London’s devolved powers of government are being seriously eroded. Settling political scores has been put before the welfare of the young and older people in London.
Just how long will these changes last for?
All the above changes are repeatedly described as “temporary” but at present there is no information at all as to how long they will last for.
What we are doing?
We are strongly opposing most of these changes and especially the changes to the Freedom Pass and the ending of free travel for under 18 year olds. Ending free travel for under 18 year olds will especially hit low income families, just at a time when more support is needed for many families.
Please do support Siobhan Benita’s petition on this campaign.
Over the Summer I will of course keep you updated on all these changes. More information is also available via my Facebook site and on Twitter.
Liberal Democrat Assembly Member
Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats are collaborating with our neighbours in Islington and Enfield to bring you virtual Q&A sessions with our fantastic leadership candidates. These events will give you the opportunity to engage with the candidates and have your voice heard in this crucial leadership election.
To sign up, please visit our events page.
Dates and times:
Ed Davey, 18th June, 6.30pm.
Laya Moran, 25th June, 7.30pm.
Wera Hobhouse, 2nd July, 6.30pm.
Campaigners from Waltham Forest, including WF Lib Dem's own Meera Chadha, letting City airport know that they oppose expansion plans.
Although Covid-19 has significantly reduced airport traffic for Waltham Forest residents in recent weeks, there was a huge win in March for campaigners against the City Airport expansion as the airport announced they were revising their plans.
London City Airport told its Consultative Committee in early March that it will drop the proposals that were in its draft Master Plan to end the 24 hour weekend break (no planes between 12.30pm Saturday - 12.30pm Sunday) and those to bring in more early morning and late evening flights. It is expected that it will postpone submitting a planning application to lift the cap on the number of flights allowed to use the airport each year.
It is unclear when City Airport will now publish its Master Plan due to the impact of Covid-19, but the repsite in recent months and weeks is likely to renew opposition to further expansion.
This reflects huge progress for all those who joined the campaign against expansion, including Hacan East, Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats, London Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Caroline Pigeon and Mayoral Candidate Siobhan Benita.
It's estimated over 4000 Back the Ban cards were sent to City Airport as part of their consultation, urging them to reconsider the plans to get rid of the existing Weekend break and extend operating hours as part of its expansion plans. This change in position from the Airport reflects the success of mobilising the local community, particularly given that originally Waltham Forest wasn't included in their consultation meetings despite being the third most overflow borough in London.
London City Airport also told the Consultative Committee that it is continuing to review its controversial concentrated flight paths as part of the wider airspace changes that will be coming in at all airports in London and the South East over the coming years. We will continue to press the airport to consider having multiple concentrated flight paths to provide respite for residents being flown over. More plans and details are expected later this year, with full public consultation to follow next year.
There is still work to convince the Airport and planning authority that in a time of climate crisis we should be reconsidering expanding the number of flights at all, but this is a great first step in addressing the environmental and wellbeing impacts on East London residents.
There is a lot of information out there regarding Covid-19, from both trustworthy and untrustworthy sources, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming to find what you need. We’ve tried to compile a list of useful links to regularly updated sources of information on a variety of topics that will hopefully be useful to you.