Friday, 28 January 2011

A field student of E17 draws a blank map




The Situationists' combination of cultural means and revolutionary ends has been influential, nowhere more so than in Paris's 1968 student uprising when Situationist slogans were painted on the walls

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust, A History of Walking

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video

19th January Clay Path - threshold



How does a member of the public get to view a definitive map and statement for the public rights of way in the London Borough of Waltham Forest? I have continued with my enquiry into this matter, hoping the word, ‘pedestrian’ does not apply in an adjective sense. Why does ‘pedestrian’ mean dull and uninspired?
Freewheeler, hailing from the ‘crap’ of Waltham Forest, reports about the plight of the pedestrian with a creative chutzpah and alacrity - a persistence which is anything but ‘pedestrian’. Far be it from me to nick Freewheeler’s shtick to beat a nettle clogged path to the door of the Chief Engineer at Low Hall. No riotous assembly will be tolerated even if there is a pertinent historical rights winning context. Please write instead.
Members of the public can request closure or amendment of existing routes, or propose a new right of way be registered by writing to:

Chief Engineer
Public Realm
Environment and Regeneration,
Low Hall, Argall Avenue
London E10

If we think we know of a Public Right of Way which has been unlawfully closed or made impassable we can complete evidence forms and return them to:
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Chief Engineer
Public Realm
Environment and Regeneration,
Low Hall, Argall Avenue
London E10


I wonder if ‘Chief Engineer’ consults Freewheeler’s blog to get the latest on the borough’s more civil/civilised arteries. Would the lone raging, (ranging) Freewheeler take a peace pipe to join him/her for a powwow?
What of Public Rights of Way which have been allowed to become impassable?
Freewheeler generously scouts the badlands reporting on and exposing the loss of the ways of our feet. Here is such a dispatch.

I was sad and intrigued to see a footpath (public right of way?) had been allowed to become overgrown with nettles - in some ways, not such ‘badlands’ after all. My impression of Chingford Mount and surrounds is of a collective psyche which values the ‘pedestrian’ as dull, uninspired and undesirable. The image shows evidence of council neglect however I think there is a broader complicity here, in that it shows or showed a not so well trodden path. Who, however, would walk into a path in that state? Clearly, the path was an opportunity, or spur, to practise some form filling for the perusal of ‘Chief Engineer’.

Where am I? I have strayed from a definitive path, lost without a map. It was dense of me not to deduce, having visited the LBWF Public Rights of Way web page, that ‘Chief Engineer’ of the ‘Public Realm’ is the person to contact to request a viewing of the definitive map. I write, ‘deduce’ because it is not clearly stated on that page actually how a member of the public can get to view LBWF’s definitive map. Compare and contrast LBWF with Kent County Council.
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‘Chief Engineer’ might be regarded as the high priest/priestess of the empyrean paths of Waltham Forest. There is, I was informed, just one (though not insubstantial) copy of the putative definitive map and statement, and so access to the truth (?) about our rights of way is limited if not privileged. How did I find this out?

I decided to compare and contrast my ‘density’ with that of some council information points - sign-posters? I visited the Central Library (Reference Section) and Waltham Forest Direct (Hoe Street One Stop Shop). At both points I asked if I could see “the definitive map and statement for the boroughs public rights of way” (“please”). Both ‘points’ consulted the online oracle and were equally puzzled as to what and where this document is. The librarians suggested I come back and ask some other librarians. Fair enough. WFD was more determined and took to the phone entreating us to a series of ‘on-holds’ while remote points of reference referred to one another. We waited patiently. The WFD officer flashed a computer lit rictus and apologised for the wait. There’s just one - it’s very big, she relayed. We waited patiently. Eventually we agreed I should leave my email address and I would be contacted as soon as possible. I left the one stop shop contemplating a predicament; that I was born in the same year the borough was formed and it has not yet had, as I understand it, a properly up to date and representative map of the public rights of way. I cheered and consoled myself however; going by the library and the one stop shop, I might not be so dense after all.

Later the same day I received an email forwarded to me by the officer at the one stop shop. I have a dilemma. The email is a brief message or memo’ addressed to the one stop officer. Following the message there is the usual confidentiality clause attached to all council correspondence. Shall I publish - leak and be damned - so that you might know the name and whereabouts of the map’s keeper and the map’s substantial scale - let alone the circumstances by which you may consult it?
This is enough expatiation, for the moment, on this trail of the arras of Waltham Forest’s highways and byways.

3 comments:

  1. Please. Please do.

    If it is a document that the public are entitled to see, then surely that fact trumps any confidentiality clause on an email.

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  2. Dear Hex, yes you are probably right. The 'dilemma' is a sort of disingenuous melodrama on my part. I've just received a P45 -honorable discharge I assure you - from the council anyway. I'm (just) playing and I hope you will continue visiting Lost and Found in E17.

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  3. Julian, I had my suspicions that it was. And I certainly shall. Sorry to hear about your discharge (honorable); hopefully you will be able to continue your illuminating perambulations.

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