The White Horse Regeneration

On Monday 16 September proposals to restore the White Horse Pub in Chadwell Heath were approved at Planning Committee by Barking and Dagenham Council. The plans also included using the existing car park to provide three and four storey flats.

Councillor Andrew Achilleos who sits on the Planning Committee commented: “After reading the report, listening to the testimonies of residents at the meeting and not receiving satisfactory responses to my concerns I could not support the application.”

The concerns raised by Councillor Achilleos centred on infrastructure, housing mix and parking.

Worries were raised about the increased pressure on the local GP. There are two operating GPs at the Ashton Gardens site and at present one of them has been graded as ‘requires improvement’ – there is a concern that care standards will continue to fall with more demand.

Regarding the housing mix, a key consideration in planning, Cllr Achilleos explained: “I wasn’t satisfied with the commitment to provide affordable housing. The majority of the development is private, and what ‘affordable’ housing there is will not be affordable for many residents based on local wages and their relation to market values.”

Concerns were also discussed around parking. The applicant explained that the properties would be marketed as being ‘car free’ but with two and three bed flats the assumption is that families would be moving in – with cars. The surrounding area has just been approved for a Controlled Parking Zone which new residents would not have access to.

Despite his concerns Councillor Achilleos added: “I am pleased about the commitment to renovate and reopen the White Horse Pub, as Barking and Dagenham has the fewest number of pubs in London. The White Horse used to be a real anchor in the local community. I remember the late Cllr John White holding his surgeries there and despite not being happy with the wider development it will be good to restore the community that surrounded the pub.”

Phasing Out Single Use Plastics in LBBD

In July Councillor Andrew Achilleos proposed at Barking and Dagenham Council full Assembly to phase out single use plastics in the borough.

The motion was passed unanimously and can be read in full by clicking HERE

Cllr Achilleos said: “I take a keen interest in the local environment and am always looking at ways we can create better green infrastructure and improve our open spaces. I am proud of this motion and feel that phasing out single use plastics and replacing them with more responsible alternatives is a ground-breaking step. As a council if we lead on environmental sustainability today we can deliver a greener tomorrow for Barking and Dagenham, paving the way for other local authorities to do the same.”

‘The Lost Words’ Project Launch

Thursday 7 March marked World Book Day 2019. This year in Barking and Dagenham the day marked the launch of a project by local Councillor Andrew Achilleos and Trees for Cities, a project which has now fully funded a book called ‘The Lost Words’ by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris along with teaching resources for every primary and SEND school in the borough.

Beam County Primary School in Dagenham is the first school in London to get the book as part of the project, and throughout the year Trees for Cities will be delivering the book across the city.

Local Member of Parliament Jon Cruddas and Barking and Dagenham’s Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement Evelyn Carpenter both attended the event alongside David Elliot the CEO of Trees for Cities and Cllr Andrew Achilleos.

Jon Cruddas commented: “this launch is the start of something very special in our schools, I’ve had a chance to look at ‘The Lost Words’ since the project started and it has my full backing. Not only does the book highlight the natural world, it will also broaden young people’s vocabulary and creativity with its excellent use of language and art.”

The Trees for Cities team held small workshops based on the acrostic poems found in the book, all the Year 4 pupils took part in a quiz where they had to identify birds from pictures, and the winning child received a personal copy of the book.

Jon Cruddas MP, David Elliot and Cllr Achilleos all read out some of the children’s favourite poems from the book during the final presentation event.

In the coming weeks, Cllr Achilleos will be working with Trees for Cities to deliver the book and accompanying teaching resource to every primary and SEND school in the borough.

Cllr Achilleos said: “the event was a resounding success. I’ve got no doubt that the book and resources will complement the astounding work teachers at Beam and across the borough are already doing to teach our children about the environment. I’m a passionate about establishing the natural world back into the hearts and minds of the next generation in Barking and Dagenham. This project is the first step.”

Barking and Dagenham Council Sign Mental Health Charter

On Wednesday 30th January Barking and Dagenham Council committed to a Charter for Mental Health. The Charter was drafted and developed by Councillor Andrew Achilleos to highlight the range of services and support in the borough. It was also a commitment to lead by example recognising mental health issues in the workplace and breaking down stigma and discrimination.

This follows the launch of the Charter on World Mental Health Day in October last year. The Charter will receive further support when partner organisations such as the NHS, NELFT, MIND, Lifeline and Healthwatch meet in February to commit to it.

The Charter supports the Thrive LDN six aspirations, which address support for Londoners to maintain good mental health, as well as developing a programme to stamp out mental health stigma and discrimination. It also promotes work with schools and youth organisations to get young people involved, using digital technology to boost Londoners’ access to mental health support and services.

The Charter places an emphasis on working with employers to improve mental health in the work place.

Councillor Achilleos said: “this charter marks a really important milestone. One in four of us will face a mental health problem in our lifetime and we need to break down the taboo that prevents us from talking about it. The commitment from the council, which is one of the largest local employers sends a supportive message to residents who may be struggling with issues in the workplace.”