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Ham&High letters: Cyber crime, People’s Vote, TfL ticket office closures, rent hikes, bin collection, UK citizenship, police and Muswell Hill Library

PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 October 2018

Cyber crime was discussed at a recent Camden Neighbourhood Watch meeting attended by representatives from the Met Police. Picture: PA WIRE

Cyber crime was discussed at a recent Camden Neighbourhood Watch meeting attended by representatives from the Met Police. Picture: PA WIRE

PA Wire/PA Images

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Ham&High readers this week.

Cyber crime awareness

Alison McWhinnie, chairman, Camden Neighbourhood Watch Association, writes:

The number of cyber crimes that happened in Camden last year was staggering, with 1,642 reports of fraud and cyber crime, from which a total of £15,013,442 was lost. The average amount lost per report is £9,143.

Last Saturday, Camden Neighbourhood Watch held an event at the Friends House in Euston Road with guest speakers from the Met Police including an expert from FALCON (Fraud & Linked Crime Online, Organised Crime Command). Advice was given on the steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of fraud and cybercrime.

Going forward, Camden Neighbourhood Watch will be circulating monthly emails that will include details on the current cyber crimes occurring in the borough and crime prevention advice to combat them.

If you would like to be included in this circulation, please email Camden.NHW@Met.Police.uk with your name and postal address (so you can be put on the correct distribution list).

Please encourage your friends and neighbours to sign up.

If every person told three people about this project, we could really scale things up to increase universal knowledge about the scam methods used and in turn bring down the number of victims of these awful crimes.

Over the last two years more than 750 people have attended our events. The monthly emails will include details of future talks where everyone is most welcome.

Decision to ignore plea for People’s Vote is a ‘missed opportunity’

Cllr Luisa Porritt, motion proposer, Cllr Flick Rea, motion seconder and Cllr Tom Simon, Liberal Democrat Group, Camden Council, write:

We are extremely disappointed that our Lib Dem motion calling on all Camden councillors to formally support a People’s Vote, with the option to Remain, did not get heard during Monday’s full council meeting.

This goes against the wishes of Camden residents, who told us they had written to their local councillors asking them to support our motion.

Given that Labour had also put forward their own motion, outlining their weak and inconsistent policy on Brexit, we can only assume they weren’t prepared to defend it in public.

Camden Labour should be ashamed of putting their party’s interests before those of residents.

Sadly, the Labour-run council has missed a great opportunity to show leadership against Brexit. Labour is rapidly losing all credibility on the most important issue facing our borough and the rest of the country.

The Liberal Democrats will continue to provide strong opposition to Brexit. We will keep fighting to ensure our residents’ voices are heard.

We oppose ticket office closure plan

Janet Guthrie, acting chair, Belsize & Hampstead Town Branch, Hampstead & Kilburn Labour Party, writes:

Arriva Rail London, the train operating company responsible for operating the London Overground network under a concessionary agreement with Transport for London (TfL), has announced plans to close ticket offices at 51 overground stations. These include Hampstead Heath, situated in our ward, as well as neighbouring stations.

It should be noted that Hampstead Heath is critical for access to and from the Royal Free Hospital for both patients and workers. At the meeting of Hampstead Town and Belsize Labour Party branch on October 4, members voted unanimously to oppose the proposals, which are likely to result in reductions in staff numbers and a deterioration in the service provided to passengers.

We call upon Arriva and TfL to withdraw their plans and guarantee to maintain safe staffing levels across the network.

Rent ‘hikes’ are damaging trade

Linda Grove, Belsize Park, full address supplied, writes:

Belsize Village is not Hampstead, Primrose Hill or South End Green.

The changing face of our high streets need to be addressed in a way that will benefit not only the community but the businesses that risk their livelihoods by opening in appropriate places.

Belsize Village is a small area of shops, a hamlet with a narrow road, no parking and a small footfall. Therefore, whoever takes on this space needs to be very aware of these facts.

We cannot, in this day and age, have what we want in our shopping areas. But we have to accept a business that will not be a threat to others and can stand alongside existing businesess. This has certainly happened where Tesco’s wanted to go on Haverstock Hill, in a place that is now home to a very successful business, Chesney’s.

XO was very successful for the first five years of its life in Belsize Village because it was one of four groups of restaurants in London considered a “destination” for clients it already had from its other branches. Diners included Kate Moss and Boris Johnson.

In fact, we had our daughter’s wedding reception there during its first year of opening.

Sylvester Fine Art has also closed because of a huge “hike” in rent.

These businesses need rent charges appropriate to the area so they can make a success of their businesses and the area.

Residents flouting bin collection rule

A Primrose Hill resident, full address supplied, writes:

With regard to the letter last week “What a load of rubbish!”, I wholeheartedly agree with your correspondent.

Veolia seems very inconsistent with the enforcement of its rubbish collection policy. Despite being told each household can have only one black wheelie bin or four orange bags, many near where I live flout this rule.

When I ask the rubbish collectors why, they say if they don’t empty all the bins they are counted as “fly-tipping” and they have to come back to empty them.

I telephoned Veolia and it says it will send education literature. Either it endorses this plan fully or gives up with it – the many who try to follow the rules should not be penalised for small infractions when other residents are allowed to flout them with impunity.

Too expensive to become citizen

Cllr Richard Cotton, Camden Town with Primrose Hill ward, writes:

At its meeting on October 8, Camden Council discussed community cohesion.

One of the best ways of promoting community cohesion is to make it easier for people to make the deep, meaningful and long-term commitment of becoming a British citizen.

Sadly, the cost of doing so has soared under this government to the extent that many of those vital workers in care homes, the NHS or public transport find it difficult to meet that cost – about £2,000 per head.

I urge Camden Council to lobby the government to simplify the citizenship process and make it genuinely affordable to all.

We all need good policing provision

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, local campaigner, writes:

I write in response to Andrew Dismore’s letter of last week regarding a referendum of Londoners to increase council tax to fund the Met.

Mr Dismore indicated that there would need to be a 123 per cent increase to that part of council tax used to fund the Met, in order to put the Met in the position it was in before the drastic cuts. He has asked me in previous correspondence, and has asked again in his letter, how much I think any increase should be. I say now the same as the last time he asked me that question – that is his job, not mine.

Many of your readers will know from my past letters on this subject that the Prime Minister and home secretary are not doing enough to lift the ban on giving proper funding to the Met and, indeed, to police countrywide. Mr Dismore understands how funding the Met works – 99.99 per cent of Londoners do not.

The mayor can only allocate to the Met what the government pays him plus what it allows him to raise from electors, an amount that is also controlled by the government. In addition, he is allowed by law to ask Londoners to pay more through a referendum.

So, other than appealing to the government (so far unheeded) and the mayor on the referendum (so far unheeded), there is nothing more that can be done to move the dial on better policing provision.

The police are maxed out and blaming them for their inability to tackle the increasing crime is futile. We are at an impasse – a very dark day.

If Sadiq Khan were not the CEO of the Met, I would not darken Mr Dismore’s doorstep further. I have tried writing to the mayor’s office directly on various matters but his inbox seems to exist in an alternative universe from which replies never seem to materialise. Mr Dismore is a member of the London Assembly and is in regular contact with the mayor. There must be a way to shift the dial on the increased daily violent and other crimes. We need to find a solution here and now. The mayor holds that solution in his hands through a referendum.

Mr Dismore has stated that, in an effort to be conciliatory, he would submit a petition prepared by me and signed by at least 250 Camden residents asking for £10million to be spent on a referendum on a police precept increase of 123pc. With respect, that is the wrong question. The question should be as follows: “Given that the Met is in crisis through a lack of funding and unable to address rising crime effectively, would Londoners wish to see an increase in Met funding through an increase in their council tax by X per cent to allow them to do so?”

Before “X” can be identified, some research will need to be done to ascertain the appetite of Londoners to pay more or see their liberty curtailed as crime runs rampant. Mr Dismore wants to fix the question as if a rise of 123pc is the only solution. There are a number of possibilities and trying to fix the percentage now is premature. By setting me an impossible task, he is not being conciliatory – he has set me up to fail.

I would suggest sending him a petition signed by 250 Camden residents who would like to see the mayor consider the question of a referendum seriously with any percentage increase “to be decided”. I will await his answer in next week’s paper on this suggestion.

In the meantime, he has raised for the second time why my efforts to raise funds from the Hampstead community to fund extra officers for Hampstead Town and Frognal and Fitzjohns were dropped, and suggests I had little public support.

Contrary to Mr Dismore’s assertions, the scheme was well received and had tremendous public support. But the overwhelming view was that residents in our community did not want to have a different provision from the rest of Londoners because they felt that would not be fair – there should be better provision for all.

The mayor is not quite in that position, is he, Mr Dismore? He is in a position to make a better provision for all.

Mr Dismore’s letter appeared, at first sight, to bring some illumination to a tiny part of this dark tunnel – but instead, that light is merely Mr Dismore himself approaching with a torch to bring us more problems to which he offers no solutions.

Give Muswell Hill Library funding

Cllr Alessandra Rossetti (Alexandra ward councillor and opposition libraries spokesperson); Cllr Justin Hinchcliffe (Fortis Green); Cllr Pippa Connor (Muswell Hill); Cllr Nick da Costa (Alexandra); Cllr Sakina Chenot (Fortis Green); Cllr Scott Emery (Muswell Hill); Cllr Josh Dixon (Alexandra); Cllr Viv Ross (Fortis Green) and Cllr Julia Ogiehor (Muswell Hill), Liberal Democrat Group, write:

It is good to hear of the £2.2million investment into Hornsey Library (Broadway, September 20).

However, N10 residents will wonder why our own, much-loved local library in Queens Avenue seems to be always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Haringey Council itself admitted: “Muswell Hill Library needs adaptations and repairs to the building. There is currently no lift in the building to access the children’s library on the first floor, and no accessible toilets for library users or staff. Level access to the ground floor entrance is provided by a limited elevated platform lift at the side of the building.”

The Friends of Muswell Hill Library, along with former MP Lynne Featherstone and past and present local Lib Dem councillors, have been campaigning for these much-needed improvements for years, but Muswell Hill Library continues to languish. For how much longer are its staff and users’ needs going to be neglected? This is a question that we’ll keep on asking in a bid to bring Labour to book over this funding injustice.

Labour must back People’s Vote

Michael Romberg, Tottenham Street, Camden, writes:

Mayor Sadiq Khan has come out unequivocally for a referendum on the terms of Brexit with the option to Remain. Labour leader of Camden Council Georgia Gould has also backed a people’s vote.

Yet the motions the Labour group put forward for debate at the last council meeting would have called for a public vote only if there were no general election. Perhaps it was fortunate that other pressing business meant the motions were not debated. It means there is time for Labour to change its stance.

A general election answers a different question: “Who should form the government?” A general election cannot resolve an issue that divides parties. Labour’s leader supports Brexit; most of his members and voters support EU membership; Labour MPs have differing views. What would a Labour vote in an election mean?

Moreover, a process that was launched with a referendum needs a referendum to confirm or change course. Nothing else has the same democratic legitimacy. A referendum on the terms would not be a re-run of 2016. Rather, it would ask voters the next question in the series: after Brexit-the-idea, please decide on Brexit-the-plan.

I hope Labour will put forward motions for debate that show unconditional support for a referendum on the terms of Brexit with the option to Remain.

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