Environment, Adelaide Tambo and masks for deaf

Haverstock Hill

There are proposals for a cycle lanes on Haverstock Hill - Credit: Archant

Is there really another way around?

Paul Allen, Haverstock Hill writes: 

With regards to the proposed cycle lanes on Haverstock Hill, a number of letters have suggested that alternative routes exist. For the almost 10,000 people who live off Haverstock Hill, the hill is a fact of life and isn’t something that can be avoided. That is why the cycle lanes are needed, to allow adults and children to safely go at their own pace rather than being hassled by vehicles.

The direct route from Prince of Wales Road to Belsize Park is 800m. Any of the alternatives almost double the distance, require multiple turns and travel along roads that are far from quiet. These alternative roads are lined by parked cars and often have SUVs travelling in the middle of the road because they are too wide for their side. The alternative via South End Green would be the worst as it would be more than 2km and involve cycling up the really steep and narrow Pond Street.

With dedicated cycle lanes, the hill would be less daunting for cyclists, and now that eBikes are becoming more affordable, it’s even quite easy. Some people say that children will find the hill difficult, but I’m always amazed at how strong children can be when cycling. Wouldn’t it be lovely to see more children cycling to school rather than in cars causing pollution and congestion. It’s also worth noting that over 50 per cent of households in the area don’t have cars.

As someone who has been cycling in London for eight years, I have seen that when cycling lanes are built the number of people cycling greatly increases and becomes more diverse. In these times of climate, obesity and pandemic emergencies, we need to enable more people to cycle and to do so in safety.

For Adelaide

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Betty Cairns, Victoria Road, Muswell Hill, writes:

Some time ago you were good enough to publish my letter suggesting that if the Albert Road playing fields were to be renamed they should be named not after Oliver Tambo but after his wife, Adelaide.

Adelaide Tambo, a young nurse, worked alongside her husband until, in 1960, first he and then his wife and their young children were forced to leave South Africa. Oliver was based in Zambia, with a remit from the ANC to act as their representative to any government friendly to their cause. Adelaide and their children came to Muswell Hill, finally having a house in Alexandra Park Road. From that house she acted as the ANC representative not only to the British government but also to many other embassies based in London.

Adelaide entertained those who were active in the anti-apartheid cause, such as Trevor Huddlestone and Cannon John Collins and above all was always ready to shelter and help those newly arrived from South Africa. She worked as a nurse at the Whittington Hospital and as a “bank” community nurse.

Sadly, Oliver Tambo, because of his ANC remit as their roving ambassador world-wide only saw his family two or three times a year.

The Tambos finally returned to South Africa in 1990 but Oliver Tambo died after a long illness in 1993. Adelaide, now an MP continued to work for women, children and the disabled until her death in 2007. At her funeral Adelaide Tambo was hailed as “a heroine of our Nation...who dedicated her life to the freedom of that Nation”. 

I do not think that Oliver Tambo, who already has a small garden, a bust and a statue in the Playing Fields would begrudge those Fields being named for her, his partner in a long fight for freedom.

Our roads

Dr Alison Moore , Labour’s London Assembly Transport spokesperson, writes:

There have been some recent media reports suggesting that motorists living outside our city could soon be charged £3.50 each time they drive into London.

We need to do some myth-busting here. For the time being, there are no concrete plans for this to happen. This is just one of several ideas that TfL is exploring to plug the gaps in its finances left by plummeting passenger numbers as a direct result of the pandemic.

The preferred option, which the mayor is lobbying the transport secretary, Grant Shapps for, is for London to keep hold of the £500m it generates through Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) each year.

This is all currently spent on maintaining roads outside of the capital. In fact, this week, new government figures have shown that London’s contribution this year will pay for the entire national budget allocated to fixing potholes in other areas of England.

On the London Assembly, all political groups have backed VED retention as the way forward and it will help us to avoid the need for a boundary charge.

An even better solution would be for the government to give TfL the long-term and sustainable emergency funding package it needs to mitigate the impact of the pandemic- just like it did with the private rail companies.

A poem for our dear willow

Archie Bethell writes: 

My name is Archie and I am 11 years old, I go to North Bridge House School and live in Swiss Cottage. 

A few weeks ago as you may know our dear weeping willow keeled over in the wind. This was tragic for all of us in the area. I have written a poem to commemorate this upsetting loss. 

A before and after shot of the "much-loved" willow in South Hampstead. Picture: Kenteas Brine/Ivana

Before and after shots of the "much-loved" willow in South Hampstead - Credit: Kenteas Brine/Ivana Marevic


The ol' mighty willow stood proud for years and years towering over the cars and trucks, it was very much endeared

Over the buildings it peered spreading its everlasting happiness

Then suddenly it came tumbling down from the root’s, abruptness filled the residents all around

The willow came stumbling down, its straggly verdant branches emerged into a dark sepia

This willow caused the locals tears on their pillow and a joyful community came crumbling to a depressing fall

Residents campaigned for the sadness to be at a mend, as the once lush willow stood as a beauty spot through window to window

Goodbye old friend!

Stop the chop

Sharon Lytton, Cromwell Avenue, Highgate, writes: 

Residents and local amenity groups are horrified that Thames Water has wantonly bulldozed a wild woodland full of birdsong, wildlife, trees, shrubs and dense undergrowth in Tile Kiln Lane.

The site owned by Thames is next to one of its Highgate reservoirs. Given the ecological importance of such places for our dwindling biodiversity how can such mindless destruction be justified. Thames Water must call an immediate halt to all work, give rational explanations and carry out proper assessments. Permitted development rights cannot mean a free for all devoid of social responsibility. 

The woodland has been full of owls, woodpeckers, a variety of other birds, bats, foxes, small mammals, and insects. There is no other similar wild place in the area that has been undisturbed for decades, apart from occasional on foot survey visits by Thames, and a pruning of big sycamores. It has been a wildlife sanctuary and vital green corridor with various trees and dense thickets throughout. Now it shouts extreme nakedness.

In a few days a lifetime of intricate habitat growth has been wiped out. Three mature sycamores have been cut down with huge piles of excavated earth moved onto other vegetation. The digger has been perilously close to a fine apple tree from what was long ago an orchard. At least half the woodland habitats and ecosystems are utterly destroyed. 

A large section of 450-year old boundary wall in Tile Kiln Lane will also be destroyed to make a very wide access with a hideous gate for vehicles to drive into the woodland. The ground level in the woodland is much higher than in the adjacent Lane resulting in big excavations of the woodland soil and wall. No consideration has been shown for heritage connected to the former Winchester Hall Estate and Farquar House, nor the Conservation Area. 

Thames Water vehicles have always parked in the Lane or nearby Winchester Road. No sensible reason has been given as to why they could not continue to do so. Residents are told that Thames are getting parking fines from the council. Is this why such major demolition and construction work lasting many weeks and causing serious environmental destruction at considerable cost to rate payers is required?

The scheme raises public safety questions for all other users of Tile Kiln Lane not least pedestrians who share the single passageway with cars, vans, bicycles and motorbikes.

Dozens of schoolchildren normally use the lane daily. How much extra on site parking and traffic of Thames vehicles will this project generate? Who will monitor it? 

None of us can afford to lose such wildlife refuges to work their magic and keep life rich and free of man made noise, light, vehicle, and other pollution. 

Thames may own the site but we all share the natural world and more than ever have a great responsibility to care for what is left of it. In an exceedingly fragile world Thames has got its priorities absolutely wrong. 

It needs to apologies for a grotesque act of wanton destruction of nature and start restoring the site to what it was. Surely Thames could come to an arrangement with Haringey over parking fines, and then let the wild woodland regrow itself unspoiled by machines, tarmac and human intrusion? 

It is not too late

Their education is at stake

Ian Noon, head of policy, National Deaf Children’s Society, writes:

With England’s 35,000 deaf pupils close to a return to education, the goalposts on face masks have moved yet again. 

Public health must take priority, but bringing face masks into classrooms will have a devastating effect on deaf children’s studies, mental health and ability to take part in lessons.

The government cannot make an announcement and expect this to be enough. It must move quickly to show exactly how it will guarantee deaf children can still access their lessons.

We cannot have a situation where thousands of deaf children and young people are unable to understand their teacher, leaving many with little point in even attending class.

The future of their education is at stake and the clock has already started.

  • Correction: In last week’s Ham&High a correspondent referred to a lack of consultation over the creation of the Belsize Streatery. In fact consultations were held in June ahead of its creation, followed by a planning consultation over the bins and planters, and a licensing consultation. We are happy to set the record straight.