Hub opens in Ilford

Redbridge Council has opened a new “engagement hub” in Ilford that will offer sessions with police and council services such as cost-of-living advice.

The council says the Ilford Engagement Hub, situated in Jubilee Gardens on the busy Ilford Lane, is part of its “groundbreaking” approach to decentralising local government.

Services offered in the modular unit will include sessions with the council’s anti-poverty team, parents’ and families’ information, special needs and disabilities, and the Metropolitan Police’s local safer neighbourhood team.

Following a launch this week, council leader Jas Athwal said the council is “innovating to deliver more with less government funding”.

He added: “By decentralising our services, we can bring our neighbours the support they need – right on their own doorstep.

“Ilford Lane is a vibrant and buzzing community, providing the perfect location for this new hub.”

The council says it will be open “at least” 40 hours per week, but has not yet confirmed its exact opening hours.

Jubilee Gardens was revamped in 2017 and has long been associated with anti-social behaviour issues.

It is in the centre of a busy commercial road that is already subject to stricter licensing conditions on late-night opening hours and alcohol sales, known as a cumulative impact zone.

Planning permission for the modular unit was granted for 12 to 18 months on October 20, after it had already been installed.

The council says it will also open “hubs” in Hainault and Chadwell, although a timeline for this remains unclear.

In the lead up to the local elections last year, council leader Jas Athwal opened a similar “enforcement hub” in a modular unit outside the York Road exit of Ilford station.

At the time, the leader said the “decimation” of police in the borough had forced the council to open the hub, which was open on some afternoons during the working week.

Although it was welcomed by female residents, it is unclear whether the York Road enforcement hub has had an impact on anti-social behaviour in the area.

The council’s longer-term plans to open six “community hubs” in new developments across the borough, launched in 2018, were mostly shelved in April this year due to increased costs.

Only one hub, in Seven Kings, is reportedly going ahead.

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter