Carols and solar-powered Christmas tree lights signal launch of Fiddlers revamp
PUBLISHED: 17:00 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:00 19 December 2019
A "people-powered" project aimed at sprucing up the site where a pub once stood has been launched with carol singing and solar-powered Christmas tree lights.
Neighbours, shopkeepers and schoolchildren gathered round a Norwegian spruce at an event marking the start of the Greening the Fiddlers scheme in Becontree Heath.
Phillippa Banister, director of organiser Street Space, said: "We are so excited to be part of this pioneering project cleaning up the air around the Fiddlers and collaborating with people to turn their ideas into reality, making streets and spaces more people-friendly."
The plan is to transform Becontree and make the neighbourhood more welcoming, safer and less congested. Initial ideas include more greenery and closing roads around schools at certain times.
As Grafton Primary's choir performed, children and parents from William Bellamy Primary decorated the tree with hand-made ornaments made from recycled bike parts.
And as the sun set, musicians led the crowd in song while solar-powered tree-lights lit up their faces.
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The project has scooped funding from TfL and mayor of London Sadiq Khan's air quality pot of money.
The council, its regeneration firm Be First, Street Space and charity, Sustrans, are all involved.
Street Space workers have been chatting to shopkeepers, neighbours and youngsters to find out what the space could be used for with locals bringing it to life with their own ideas.
These include using the space for school performances, somewhere for people to enjoy food, or a market with stalls for sellers or craftspeople.
Others want to see more planting, greenery and something that catches the eye.
Many have worries about the area, however. Street Space's survey found neighbours do not always feel safe, there's nothing to attract people to the area after dark and spaces are cluttered with overflowing bins.
To get involved in Greening the Fiddlers, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Instagram or Facebook to keep up to date with the project.
To share details on how you travel around the Fiddlers for the chance to win a brand new bike or other prizes visit sustrans.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/how-do-you-feel-about-the-fiddlers