MAYOR OF NEWHAM: WE DEMAND NIGHT-TIME SECURITY FOR EAST HAM NATURE RESERVE NOW!

MAYOR OF NEWHAM: WE DEMAND NIGHT-TIME SECURITY FOR EAST HAM NATURE RESERVE NOW!

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Nigel McCollum started this petition to Rokhsana Fiaz, OBE, Mayor of Newham (London Borough of Newham)

There has been a steady rise in anti-social behaviour - including criminal damage - to the East Ham Nature Reserve managed by Newham Council. This has included an increasing number of fires, and significant damage to the oldest building in East Ham, the Church of St Mary Magdalene, built in 1130.

This 9.5 acre site has been left unmanaged for too many years by Newham Council. The result is much of the site has become secondary woodland and much of it is overgrown, providing the perfect cover for those who seek to cause damage.

These fires pose a real threat to the churchyard and wildlife. Some fires are ignited right beside the walls of this ancient church. The Church has already had to employ expensive specialist heritage carpenters to rebuild the ancient Wooden South Porch that was destroyed by arson. Lead has again been stolen from the Church roof, and copper lightning conductors stolen too.  These fires have been happening for many years now, and have caused significant damage, yet the Mayor continues to take no action.

There have now been active attempts to break in to this Historic Grade 1 Listed Building. If or when the criminals succeed in gaining access, Newham will lose too much of it’s heritage. This cannot happen.

We are frustrated that the Police consider these fires and thefts ‘low level crime’ and are infuriated that all Newham Council are doing is discussing the incidents at Safer Neighbourhood Meetings.

We demand a stop to ‘talking-shops’. WE WANT PREVENTATIVE SECURITY MEASURES TO BE IMPLEMENTED NOW to protect the residents and heritage of East Ham!

We demand that from dusk to dawn, Newham uses a Canine Patrol Security Unit to monitor the site until permanent security fixtures can be put in place, working alongside Historic England and the Metropolitan Police.

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Context

 

o   Newham Council has been the Leaseholder for the 9.5 acre site since 1982.

o   The site surrounds this ancient church built by Cistercian Monks in 1130 on a    raised area of land that was within the Thames Marshes. It is the oldest building in East Ham, and one of the oldest churches in London

o   Under the terms of the 1982 Lease, Newham Council is responsible for maintaining the site in the condition it was in when they took over. This has not been the case, to the detriment of all residents of Newham.

o   The Church continues to have a thriving congregation and we note that the Church has for years been fighting an up-hill struggle with the Council to have the grounds maintained. All to no avail.

o   A recent survey by a Chartered Ecologist stated that the site had tragically been left to become secondary woodland by Newham Council, and the entire central section has become overgrown. This has resulted in family graves no longer being visible, and has enabled anti-social behaviour to grow.

o   When any site stops being managed, and visitor numbers drop massively, anti-social elements move in.

o   The more a site becomes known as a place of criminal activity, the less the Council will be able to try to get our community to visit again.

o   We note that when the current Mayor took office the team of 40+ Enforcement Officers was cut to 2. How can 2 people cover such a large borough?

o   The Church community continues to be in active discussion with Historic England as this is a Grade 1 Listed Building, but there are limitations on what can be done to physically secure the building given it is surrounded by such a large unprotected space. We affirm that the onus lies on the Council who run the large site to implement dusk-to-dawn security on the entire site, or this ancient church may be destroyed by arsonists, and its contents looted. This will be an historic loss to all the people of East Ham.

o   The cost of a dusk-to-dawn Canine Patrol Unit is cost-effective and is a PROVEN AND TESTED DETERRENT used on multiple sites across the capital.

o   A Canine Patrol Unit will ensure that the Mayor of Newham is not left liable for the destruction of the oldest building in the borough, and the churchyard that is the resting place of East Ham residents for centuries. It will also enable the Council to solely focus on working to bring the Nature Reserve back up to a level that will re-create an appealing and safe Green Space for all.

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At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!