Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest 2021 Year in Review: April-June

Our biggest local stories from April, May and June this year

Hero for Waltham Forest 2021 Year in Review: April-June
28 December 2021

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 second of a four-part series reflecting on the biggest local stories of 2021. You can read part one 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.

If you like what the Waltham Forest Echo does and want to support us next year, consider becoming a member for as little as £3 a month.

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April

Chris Robbins MBE

Waltham Forest’s revered former mayor Chris Robbins died suddenly. Chris, awarded an MBE in 2017, oversaw the introduction of ‘Mini-Holland’ and the reopening of Lea Bridge Station during his time as leader and was well-regarded across the political divide.

A nursery in Lloyd Park rated “outstanding” by Ofsted managed to lose a child after he wandered out through an open gate. The boy was missing for around half an hour and found by a stranger in the park, who phoned the police. Speaking at the time, his mother said: “I heard another mum saying that this happened before and she won’t bring her child back to this nursery again.”

The Pastures Centre in Leytonstone (credit: Elaine Kasket)

A youth and sports centre in Leytonstone was saved from being turned into housing after a community-wide campaign. The Save Our Pastures group demanded the council abandon plans to build on the Pastures Youth and Sports Centre site in Davies Lane. Ward councillor Clyde Loakes said the council decided not to go ahead due to the “unique nature” of the centre and “the future and existing community provision” possible there.

May 

The £190million Coronation Square development

The developer behind the borough’s biggest housing scheme, which will see 750 new homes built in Leyton, was given a huge discount on the price of buying the necessary land off the council after complaining that “unforeseen costs” such as Covid and Brexit could “significantly” delay the project. Council leaders reduced the price of the Score Centre land by £6.9million, while also agreeing to buy all the commercial space being built on the site. 

Education watchdog Ofsted found that carers being trained by a company in Leytonstone were being given only a “limited understanding” of what they needed to learn. Limm Skills Academy in Church Lane was not properly checking their work or giving “useful feedback”, while some trainees’ work had “considerable omissions” or seemed to be plagiarised from others on the course. Walter Mugisha, from the academy, said it would work to improve on the areas of concern Ofsted had raised.

Two of three new local councillors elected this year (WF Labour)

Voters in Hatch End ward of Waltham Forest were asked to pick a new councillor following the death of Conservative Geoff Walker and chose fellow Tory Justin Halabi. Residents in Lea Bridge and Grove Green had their own by-elections in June and chose two Labour candidates: Jennifer Whilby and Uzma Rasool.

June

Former leader Clare Coghill

Council leader Clare Coghill announced she was stepping down after four years as the council’s top dog and would not run to be re-elected as a councillor next May. The reason behind her abrupt resignation quickly became clear when she joined the board of affordable housing provider Square Roots, a subsidiary of a developer currently seeking permission to build hundreds of flats in Lea Bridge. While those opposed to the Lea Bridge Station plans insist this casts serious doubts on the fairness of the process, the council claims there is no chance of “impropriety”.

An inquest into the death of a 26-year-old pregnant woman hit by a police car in Walthamstow heard that there was “nothing” the officer “could [have done] to avoid that collision”, despite the fact that he was speeding at the time. Luam Gebremariam, who died in 2019, moved to the UK from Eritrea to pursue a career in fashion and would have lost consciousness immediately on impact. 

Come back tomorrow for the third part of our Year in Review series, focusing on stories from July, August and September.