Waltham Forest 2021 Year in Review: October-December

The biggest local headlines from October to December

As we approach the beginning of a new year in the borough, it’s a good time to look back at everything that’s happened in the last twelve months.

This is the fourth and final part of a series reflecting on the biggest local stories of 2021. You can read part one here, part two here and part three here.

Due to our unique position as the only independent paper dedicated to the borough, many of these stories weren’t covered anywhere else and would have gone unnoticed without us.

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Keanu Vella (credit: Met)

A Chingford mother warned parents that a 27-year-old man she once trusted is “dangerous around children” after he preyed on her 9-year-old daughter. Keanu Vella was sentenced to two years in prison for pulling the child into a bathroom and masturbating in front of her. The mother told the Echo: “It shows you need to be careful of who you let in your house and have around you.”

Eight people were arrested during a controversial immigration raid outside Walthamstow Central Tube Station. Local MP Stella Creasy called the raid “divisive” and a “waste of resources. Transport for London, who have a policy that forbids immigration enforcement on their property, later said they had not been asked permission for the action and would make sure it didn’t happen again.

We revealed exactly that 214 of the borough’s poorest households had been told to either move out of London or be made homeless since the council began working with Reloc8 UK in 2019. Reloc8, who describe themselves as “relocation experts”, allow councils to discharge their duty to house the homeless by offering them a home they can afford to rent – even if it is located on the other side of the country. A series of Freedom of Information requests submitted to every London council showed Waltham Forest was their biggest customer in the city.


Campaigners outside the town hall before the meeting (credit: Simon Deville)

“Outline plans” to sell off more than half of the current Whipps Cross site for housing were agreed, to the fury of campaigners worried this will cause services available in the current hospital to be moved elsewhere. Robert Gay from the Waltham Forest Civic Society told councillors that if they agreed to sell off NHS land for housing “then in 30 years time, your successors will be cursing you”. The council’s principal planner, meanwhile, said the hospital’s current layout was “inefficient” and could be shrunk down with no change to services.

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DJ Dlux, researcher Katherine Green and producer Lennie De Ice (credit: Rendezvous Projects)

A free exhibition looking at the borough’s rave and pirate radio legacy opened at the Vestry House Museum and will remain open until May. The Echo previously published a feature on the years of research that went into the project, which aimed to create a historical record of the borough’s DIY musical talent.

Chingford siblings who made thousands pimping women online were jailed for six years each. Older sister Claudia Anca was the “boss” of the operation and gave the women orders about how to dress and do their hair and makeup, threatening them with losing work if they disagreed. 


A protestor blockading the incinerator (credit: XR)

Plans to rebuild and expand the Edmonton Incinerator, just over the border from Chingford, moved ahead as the North London Waste Authority, chaired by Clyde Loakes, appointed a company to carry out the construction work. Protests against the project reached a fever pitch in the week leading up to the decision, with two people being arrested after blockading the facility.

Disgraced ex-cops Jamie Lewis and Deniz Jaffer (credit: Met)

Two former local cops who mocked murdered sisters in a Whatsapp group of more than 40 fellow officers were jailed for “misconduct in public office”. The investigation into their Whatsapp messages even led to the dismissal of another officer, found to have sent one of them a racial slur when discussing plans to move home. 

An underused community centre on a Leyton estate where a teenager was shot dead received thousands in funding in an effort to prevent further bloodshed. The council’s youth engagement team Streetbase plan to put on music and video workshops in the Seddon Centre on the Beaumont Estate to give its young residents somewhere safe to hang out.

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