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Get involved in your local area

Residents who want to keep up to date with what’s happening in their local area, speak with elected representatives and even ask for funding to help support community projects are being encouraged to take part in Community Ward Forums.



Waltham Forest is split into 20 ‘wards’, each of which has three elected councillors to represent local residents. Every ward also has its own Community Ward Forum – which gives residents and businesses the opportunity to meet their councillors and talk about important local issues three times a year.



The meetings, which are generally held on weekday evenings to allow as many people as possible to get involved, have a set agenda, but residents can ask questions about Council projects, put forward ideas to improve their neighbourhoods and ask councillors to consider funding local projects.



Every year, each forum has £10,000 to spend on community initiatives. The money can be spent on schemes that support older people to stay active in their local communities, to tackle anti-social behaviour, on events that encourage community cohesion, activities that encourage participation in arts and cultural events, and more.



Residents can make suggestions for funding by contacting their ward councillors or speaking at a forum meeting. All suggestions and local projects must benefit residents living in the ward. Voluntary, community, sports or arts groups cannot apply directly for funding. However, residents’ project ideas can be delivered by the Council and partners, such as housing associations, as well as constituted voluntary and community sector groups and organisations that meet the Council’s criteria. Smaller projects of up to £300 can be resident led and delivered.



Cllr Liaquat Ali MBE JP, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Cohesion, said: “Community Ward Forum meetings are the perfect way for you to come together with like-minded people from your neighbourhood and talk about the things that matter to you. I encourage residents to go along and put questions of community interest directly to their councillors.”



One group that has benefitted from funding is the East of Market Quarter (EMQ) Residents’ Association. It applied for funding from Hoe Street Community Ward Forum for a number of projects, including a street party for 250 people, planting trees, erecting bird boxes and installing two ‘Little Free Libraries’. Its most recent funding was used to stop anti-social behaviour in an alley between Hoe Street and Eastfield Road by adding a gate to stop unauthorised access.



EMQ founder, Gloria Wood, said: “I find Community Ward Forums incredibly interesting, as you can hear from the police and Council and meet other local people. You feel completely at ease standing up and asking a question. It’s an example of real, local democracy.



“I think the forums help make the neighbourhood feel more cohesive, and I’d encourage anyone who wants to improve their area to attend.”



Chingford resident, Graeme King, applied for funding to replace 15 windows at Old Church (All Saints) Community Hall in Old Church Road through the Endlebury, Larkswood and Valley Community Ward forums. The hall is well-used by local groups, including cubs, brownies, guides, rangers, scouts, community groups and church groups, and was awarded funding of £4,500.



Graeme said: “We were made to feel very welcome, and I like the fact that meetings are interactive. Residents were encouraged to ask questions and give their opinions. It wasn’t just that the councillors had an agenda to push and that everyone had to follow.



“The church hall is used every single night. The new windows have helped improve security, and are saving us money on bills. The hall is now much more welcoming.”



Gnome House, the community arts and culture hub in Blackhorse Lane, received funding from High Street Community Ward Forum.



Volunteer director, Mark Burton, said: “We received funding for a Saturday youth group. About 60 children come along every weekend and do a variety of activities such as dance, film-making, music and art. I was down at Gnome House recently and it was brilliant to see the place full of energy and excitement. The feedback from both children and parents has been fantastic.”



Find out when your Community Ward Forum meets by visiting www.walthamforest.gov.uk/cwf. If you’re new to the borough, it’s easy to find out which ward you live in. Simply visit www.walthamforest.gov.uk/myplace and enter your postcode.

If you would like more information about any of these press releases or have a different media enquiry please contact us at media@walthamforest.gov.uk or on 020 8496 4521 / 4802.

For out of hours please email media@walthamforest.gov.uk or call 07966 915 157.