At the beginning of January, following a discussion in a Waltham Abbey Facebook group, I emailed Waltham Abbey Town Council asking if they’d consider holding a public meeting around how we can make the best of Sun Street, support local traders and whether or not we should invite large retail chains into the street.
I’ve not had a full reply yet (it might be answered at the next full Waltham Abbey Town Council meeting on Wednesday 24th Feb) but on Thursday 21st January Lisa Gates, of Lisa G Studio, organised a meeting of Waltham Abbey’s small businesses to cover similar issues.
Now that all of that election malarkey is a month behind us we can get on with trying to make a difference in Waltham Abbey.
Things are going to be difficult – the Coalition government imposed massive cuts on local authority funding and the Conservative government is very unlikely to be any better. On top of that we’ve a district council which is committed to an ongoing council tax freeze, regardless of its impact on local services. Waltham Abbey Town Council is also somewhat hamstrung by having very limited authority. A lot of decisions are made by our District or County councils, irrespective of the wishes of Waltham Abbey’s residents.
I think it worth mentioning that there were no public questions to last Thursday’s Town Council meetings and there was only one member of the public in attendance (me!) One of the first steps in getting issues addressed is to find out what’s already being done about them. The chances are that the council, either Town or District, is already on the case. Again, there might not be much the Town Council can do but they can report back on the current position if asked.
With that in mind, these are the main issues which have been raised with Waltham Abbey Greens on our Street Surgery stalls on Sun Street:
Litter and untidy streets: particularly chewing gum on Sun Street. I’m baffled that anybody thinks it’s acceptable to discard chewing gum on the footpath and it is an absolute pain to get off.
Parking: a lack of parking space does lead to a lot of pavement parking. It’s a pain, it’s illegal, but I do have some sympathy with those who do it. Our public transport is somewhat lacking; many people don’t have much choice other than to use their cars.
Smell of the drains: this was particularly noticeable on Saturday!
Public transport: we’re still collecting signatures for the 38 Degrees Save the 505 petition, which we support, so public transport crops up a lot in conversation. Common complaints mainly arise from the competitive nature of the private companies which run our buses:
two buses on very similar routes arriving within minutes of each other
return tickets which can’t be transferred between operators
inadequate evening/night services
To an extent we can’t blame the bus companies for any of this: they are private businesses which are there to make a profit. Ultimately the blame lies with deregulation and privatisation, neither of which are within Waltham Abbey Town Council’s purview, or Epping Forest District Council’s. Essex County Council would probably find itself in trouble with the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) if it tried bringing buses back in-house.
Still, there’s no harm in asking! At the very least the council could provide bigger subsidies to private bus companies to keep unprofitable services running. That’s not ideal but bus services are important, whether they’re profitable or not.
I’m going to submit questions to Waltham Abbey Town Council about a few of these issues. The next full Council meeting isn’t until 29th July but there are Policy and Resources Committee meetings before that.
If you’ve any comments please feel free to add them below (no swearing though – I’m OK with it but others reading this might not be) or send me an email: email@example.com.
You can also come along to our next Waltham Abbey Green Drinks night – date and venue TBC.
Partial reprieve for 505 bus route is welcome but nothing to gloat about
News that the 505 bus route from Chingford to Harlow has been granted a partial reprieve  is welcome but its reduced service will still cause problems for the elderly, disabled, students and carers, say Waltham Abbey’s Green Party coordinator. With just six services a day many people will face being stranded or forced onto longer routes. Dave Plummer, Green Party candidate for Waltham Abbey South West, started a petition calling on the council to ensure the 505 is replaced with a service which is at least equal to the current one. The petition has raised nearly 500 signatures to date.
“While it’s good news that there will still be a 505 service after 9th May six buses a day is clearly inadequate. We need to keep the pressure on to ensure the full 505 service is maintained.”
Reacting to news that Waltham Abbey Conservatives are claiming credit  for keeping the vastly reduced service running, Dave said,
“My petition was specifically non-party political so it is particularly disappointing to see Waltham Abbey Conservatives trying to make political capital out of the 505, especially given their part in its reduced service. The Coalition government’s cuts to local authority funding, equating to a 4.3%  cut in Epping Forest’s spending power for 2015 – 16, and Conservative led Epping Forest Council’s stubborn refusal to raise council tax  have both contributed to a drop in provision of essential services. Not only are they claiming a reduced 505 service as something to be proud of, but they’re also failing to acknoweldge that their own policies have led to the service being reduced at all.”
Waltham Abbey resident launches petition to save the 505 bus service
A Waltham Abbey resident has launched a petition to save the 505 bus service, which is under threat of closure from 9th May. The current operators, Arriva and Network Harlow, say that the service is underused and running at a loss. The petition, hosted on the 38 Degrees website, call on Essex County Council to ensure that the 505 bus route from Chingford to Harlow remains operational, with its current or increased level of service, from 9th May 2015.
The petition was set up by Dave Plummer, who’s standing in the local elections on 7th May for the Green Party in Waltham Abbey South West.
Dave said, ‘The 505 route is vital for disabled people, the elderly, students, carers and the low waged/unwaged. With the imminent closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) the loss of any local transport service will be particularly hard for disabled people. The 505 might be running at a loss but public transport is a public service – profitability should be irrelevant. The council has said that other operators have expressed an interest in taking the route over. Let’s keep the pressure up to make sure the Council finds a replacement operator or takes over the service itself if necessary.’
Dave added, ‘The petition already has three hundred signatures, many coming after it was shared on Facebook by Keep It Local Waltham Abbey and Waltham Abbey Residents’ Association. It’s a non-party political petition and I encourage local groups to get in touch to organise their own paper versions and collect signatures to demonstrate our community’s support for the 505 bus route.’