Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

The ripple effect of life on the estate

Our long-standing columnist Michelle Edwards on facing electoral register removal – and happenings at neighbouring Walnut Court… Did you vote in last [...]

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Ongoing works at Walnut Court (Credit: Michelle Edwards)
By Waltham Forest Echo 11 June 2021

Our long-standing columnist Michelle Edwards on facing electoral register removal – and happenings at neighbouring Walnut Court…

Did you vote in last month’s mayoral and local elections?

Now that you know about Labour’s crushing defeat in the Hartlepool by-election and just how well Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey performed given he received little backing from Number 10 – I may as well tell you that I was very nearly stripped of my constitutional right to put my X on the ballot.

Out of nowhere, I received a letter in March from Electoral Services headed ‘Your vote matters’ stating: “Your entry in the electoral register for this address has been removed.” Oh, and it said I didn’t “need to do anything else” unless I “should be registered at this address”.

You wanna run that by me again? My vote matters? Yeah, okay. But I’ve been kicked off the electoral roll. By whom? And if somebody screwed up, I should get in touch. Why so?

Perfectly properly, I sent an email to Electoral Services to find out what’s going on. The Senior Electoral Registration Officer came back to explain that in the course of their canvassers delivering poll cards for the elections, they returned any poll cards they couldn’t deliver. In my case, “the canvasser said they couldn’t deliver to your address due to it being boarded up. If we get any indication that someone is not residing at an address, we start the deletion process.”

How dangerous is that falsehood? And how many others might that have happened to in and around the estate?

As the demolish and rebuild of Marlowe Road Estate has broadened and deepened with the construction of blocks P5, P6 and P7 – which comprise the 98 private units under construction in Phase 2A of the development – residents of Walnut Court, a five-minute walk away, appear to be sharing some of the undesirable impacts with us.

While they’ve had none of the upheaval, increased rents or destabilisation of existing networks to contend with, since it was not earmarked for the wrecking ball, I’m told that there have been multiple heating and hot water outages there.

According to the residents (mainly distressed mothers) I spoke to, neither the council nor Countryside, the developer, communicate well with them. A conversation with the management of Aston Group – who are responsible for delivering the heating/hot water service – didn’t support the allegations in full.

Had Waltham Forest Council complied with their obligations under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), I could have verified their account with some certainty. But a disclosure on this topic, which was due on the same day as this column, didn’t arrive. A pattern seasoned readers of the Echo know all too well.

Eyebrows were raised too when residents of Walnut Court discovered they were to lose their existing parking spaces to make way for spaces exclusively for the new occupants. Again, I’m waiting for verification of this point.

Nonetheless, the entire stretch of road around the court has been dug up, leaving an almighty mess. Put another way, low-income groups and individuals continue to take a back seat to property developers and the burgeoning gentrifiers.

Read every edition of Michelle’s column about life on Marlowe Road Estate here