Friday, 28 February 2014

SLM Weekly Digest - 20-2-14

This is the weekly digest of the Save Lea Marshes campaign.  We are an open group of local people from the Lea Valley Area, seeking to keep our local green spaces as bio-diverse and people friendly as possible.

As the Winter Olympics in Sochi continue, it is interesting to experience de ja vu and  see further evidence of the "Olympic Legacy" continuing with the arrest of an environmentalist who opposed the siting of the games, followed by members of "Pussy Riot" being attacked for trying to sing an anti Putin song under an Olympic advertising banner. Meanwhile back on the London 2012 site:

MARSH LANE ALLOTMENTS - if you cast your mind back to the pre-Olympic scene of the destruction of the Allotments on the Olympic site and the subsequent relocation of the allotment folk to Marsh Lane - the next chapter is continuing with a plan by the London Legacy Development Corporation/London Borough of Waltham Forest and Lee Valley Regional Park Authority running roughshod over planning procedures and ignoring objections to a plan due to go to the LLDC on 25 February, which would push through a new access route and meadow.  For further information see the report   Also, the Mayor of Hackney seems to be backing the plan despite the waiting list for allotments in Hackney being closed since 2008.  See 

HOUSING AT OLYMPIC PARK - there is also a story p.6 in this week's "Hackney Gazette" on the rapid reduction on the amount of affordable housing being allocated in the former Olympic area.  In East Wick, the percentage will drop from 38 to 29 per cent and in the Queen Elizabeth Park, a spokesman for the LLDC says they are: "totally committed to providing new homes in and around the Queen Elizabeth Park .. we expect to build up to 1,400 homes per year and our site-wide target remains for more than a third, 35 per cent, to be affordable homes."

F.O.I.'s and correspondence - SLM members are continuing correspondence with the London Boroughs of Hackney and Waltham Forest and the LVRPA on various planning matters - these include looking into the LVRPA's Bye Laws pending the committee later this month that will consider setting up a new trust to manage its leisure interests and looking into the management of the LVRPA's management of the SSSI on Walthamstow Marshes in line with its responsibilities as laid by Natural England.

BIRKBECK  MANAGEMENT OF WILDLIFE HABITAT LECTURES - from Friday 28 February, at 6.30 , when the first of a series of lectures organised by Birkbeck, the Ecology and Conservation Studies Society and the Linnean Society of London, will see David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation, National Trust give the first lecture and ask those attending to vote for three topics from a list for the next sessions.  For more information see the following link

WEED KILLER - a  number of SLM members attended a meeting with the Head of Environmental Services in Hackney this week, kindly organised by Hackney Lea Bridge Ward Councillor Ian Rathbone (to whom grateful thanks are extended), regarding the use of Glyposate weed killer on Hackney's streets.  This meeting resulted in some positive outcomes:  LBH will monitor the outsourced company Weed Free, more carefully to ensure that greater health and safety is observed and blanket spraying avoided; alternatives will be looked into including a new product to be launched in two weeks and we will be kept informed of any changes and research which supports the position of Friends of the Earth.

SUSTRANS TUNNEL - whilst we have got off fairly lightly in the recent deluge(s) compared to the South of the Thames and parts further South West, the walking and bike access under the Lea Bridge Road, has been very waterlogged.  Pumping has taken place but we hear that it is still a bit wet under there and worth avoiding for the moment.

LVRPA WORKSHOP - a reminder that this will be taking place from 1-3 p.m. at the Waterworks CafĂ© - agenda items include Grassland Management of Walthamstow Marshes; Park watch Scheme and starting a newsletter.  However, I am sure that members of the public will want to talk about the LVRPA's plans for setting up a new trust ...

PHOTO COMPETITION - reminder that the SLM "What I love About the Marshes" photo competition comes to a close at Midnight on 28 February 2014.  So get clicking! Further information see

NEXT MEETING - Firstly, apologies for citing the wrong location for the meeting, which was subsequently postponed.  We will be meeting this coming Monday 24th at the Hare and Hounds, Lea Bridge Road.

Tree Musketeers - March programme

Saturday  1st March -       Tree  Walk 2pm - 3.30pm
West Hackney Recreation Ground
Learn about fruit tree pruning and help maintain Hackney's biggest orchard.
Meet at 2pm in the park on Manse Rd, N16.
Funded by RE:LEAF 
Sunday 2nd March    -      Tree Pruning  Workshop 4
Abney Park Nature Reserve
Last day at Abney. Learn about tree pruning, woodland ecology and specimen trees.
Wear warm clothes and strong footware. 
Tools and refreshments provided
MAXIMUM 12 people. Booking essential (
Meet  10am at the main Stamford Hill Gates. 
Free. Funded by RE:LEAF  
Saturday 8th March    -      Fruit Tree Pruning  Workshop 2
Well Street Common Orchard
Learn about fruit tree pruning and help maintain one of Hackney's newest orchards.
Wear warm clothes and strong footware. 
Tools and refreshments provided.  
MAXIMUM 12 people. Booking essential (
Meet 10am at the orchard.
Funded by RE:LEAF 
Sunday 9th March    -      Fruit Tree Pruning  Workshop 3
Spring Hill Orchard
Learn about fruit tree pruning and help maintain one of Hackney's orchards.
Wear warm clothes and strong footware. 
Tools and refreshments provided.  
MAXIMUM 12 people. Booking essential (
Meet 10am at the orchard.
Funded by RE:LEAF 
Saturday 15th March    -      Fruit Tree Pruning  Workshop 4
Daubeney Green Orchard
Learn about fruit tree pruning and help maintain one of Hackney's newest orchards.
Wear warm clothes and strong footware. 
Tools and refreshments provided.  
MAXIMUM 12 people. Booking essential (
Meet 10am at the orchard.
Funded by RE:LEAF 
Saturday 22nd March    -      Fruit Tree Pruning  Workshop 5
Hackney Downs Orchard
Learn about fruit tree pruning and help maintain one of Hackney's orchards.
Wear warm clothes and strong footware. 
Tools and refreshments provided.  
MAXIMUM 12 people. Booking essential (
Meet 10am at the orchard.
Funded by RE:LEAF 
Saturday 29th March    -      Fruit Tree Pruning  Workshop 6
South Millfields Orchard
Second day fruit tree pruning and at Hackney's biggest orchard.
Wear warm clothes and strong footware. 
Tools and refreshments provided.  
MAXIMUM 12 people. Booking essential (
Meet  10am at the orchard.  
Funded by RE:LEAF 
Russell Miller
07758 326530
16 John Campbell Road
N16 8JZ

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Velopark opening soon


Taster Sessions

Lee Valley VeloPark, BMX track and Velodrome

Lee Valley Leisure Trust Ltd


Subject: Lee Valley Regional Park Authority Update
Date: 7 February 2014 12:19:20 GMT

I am writing to inform you that the Board of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is considering a change to its operational model as part of a review of how it can utilise public funds as effectively as possible to ensure that the Regional Park remains a fantastic destination and an asset for the region.

On 27 January, the Authority’s Board reduced the levy for 2014/15 by 2%. This reduction means that over the past five years we have cut the levy – which forms part of the council tax paid by residents of London, Essex and Hertfordshire – by 25% in real terms. It is now at the same level as it was in 2006, at £1.03 per head of population per annum and is less than half the maximum we are allowed to charge.

We are, of course, very aware of the pressures our contributing authorities are under and for the first time ever, LVRPA has this year managed to raise more funding from our own activities – admission fees, commercial income, investments – than we have raised through the levy.

It is in response to the prevailing financial situation facing local authorities and as part of our aspiration for the Lee Valley Regional Park to be a world class visitor destination that a new operational model is being considered. This has been given additional impetus as we look to reduce our liability for additional business rates for our two new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park legacy venues.

The rates bill for these – Lee Valley VeloPark and Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre – is estimated to be £1.5 million, giving the Authority a total rates bill of over £2.5 million. In 2014/15 we will be operating at a substantial deficit, met from reserves, but we can only fund this arrangement for one year. The rates bill equates to approximately 10% of our gross budget and around 20% of the money we raise from the levy. We could legally raise this extra money by increasing the levy by 21%, but in the current financial climate with our precepted Boroughs having to manage significant budget reductions, this is not seen as a realistic option.

On 27 February our Board will be considering entering into a contract with a new Trust, Lee Valley Leisure Trust Limited, for the management of our sport and leisure venues, particularly our London 2012 legacy venues, enabling us to receive mandatory 80% rate relief. This is a model many local authorities have used.

The Authority is legally entitled to pursue such an option under the Lee Valley Regional Park Act 1966 which led to the creation of Lee Valley Regional Park. The Act stipulates that the Authority can exercise its remit to provide leisure, sport and recreation, including nature conservation either by itself or by acting in partnership with other individuals or bodies.

This is already an important part of the Authority’s approach to how it runs the Regional Park with a number of third party bodies delivering various services. For example, our parklands are maintained by a contractor through one of the most cost effective contracts of its type in the UK.

If the intention to manage the Authority’s venues through the Lee Valley Leisure Trust is agreed by our Board in February then the market will be notified through a Contract Award Notice. Through this operational model our aim is to gain a full understanding of the business models for our new and complex legacy venues in particular. Within 3-5 years we plan to go through a full procurement exercise with a long term management contract the objective.

A final decision on awarding a contract to the Lee Valley Leisure Trust is expected to be taken by the Authority Board in June 2014. However, at the moment  we are still discussing how the Trust may function, precisely what it might be responsible for and the nature of its relationship with the Authority. In addition to securing mandatory rate relief the Trust model also brings other financial benefits relating to VAT.

This is an important issue for the Authority and I would welcome your views which can be sent ahead of the 27 February Board meeting, or later as they will be considered ahead of other monthly meetings of our Executive Committee and right up until the final decision in June.

Whilst a new operating model is currently a major focus for the Authority, we are pursuing a range of other initiatives to further maximise income from our London 2012 venues and other sites around the Park. The focus here is on further investment in our sport and leisure facilities and commercial income through sponsorship and other ventures. Over the next six months the Authority will develop a business strategy which will provide the detail of the projects and initiatives it will be pursuing over the next few years.

With around 5 million visits per year from across London, Essex, Hertfordshire and further afield, Lee Valley Regional Park is a popular and unique destination offering a mix of sport, nature and leisure activities. The Authority is playing a leading role in delivering Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and a London 2012 legacy – projects of national importance, and we have guaranteed the future of three London 2012 legacy venues which we own and will operate within our current levy policy.

We are committed to ensuring that Lee Valley Regional Park continues to deliver genuine benefits for all communities in the most financially efficient way possible.

Derrick Ashley
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
Myddelton House, Bulls Cross, Enfield, Middlesex EN2 9HG
Telephone: 01992 717711 Fax: 01992 788623