Readers’ letters: BID, green public transport, Bill Smith, Heath ponds, climate change and Jean Simmons

Bill Smith

Bill Smith - Credit: Janet Shapiro

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

BID should not secure another term

BID Abolishment Campaign Hampstead, write:

The Business Improvement District (BID) in Hampstead Village has attracted considerable opposition and controversy.

Its five year stint has a further 18 months to run but many local businesses are galvanising themselves to ensure it does not gain another five year term.

For various reasons the concept has not gelled in Hampstead.

Many business owners do not accept paying Hampstead Village BID Ltd without having first agreed to do so and the inclusion of state schools, NHS practices and charities within the BID area being forced to pay it has left many outraged.

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At a time when the government is being asked to help save the high street by lowering business rates it is an anathema for shops to be forced to pay a top up levy to a private company that has failed to show any meaningful results, yet it plans to expand its role in the community and has no obligation to show exactly how the money is being spent and will only allow board members to have any meaningful say on policy.

In Hampstead, many businesses are now getting behind James McGrath, the landlord of the King William IV pub, in a show of solidarity.

He alone has stood up to the Hampstead Bid by publicly refusing to pay the levy. Within weeks now the matter will be heard in the High Court.

Invest in green public transport

Chloe Milburn, Cecile Park, Crouch End, writes:

Your columnist Sue Hessel is quite right in suggesting, with reference to Haringey Council's Liveable Crouch End consultation, that the £6m budget would be more effectively used to improve the environment by improving public transport - invest in electric buses, make them more frequent, (especially the 91 into central London) and add a new westerly route towards Highgate, Hampstead and the Royal Free hospital.

The proposal to close the main through roads to cars will simply displace them to residential streets resulting in more, not less, overall congestion and pollution.

The many shop closures in Crouch End are a clear warning that to survive our high street needs to attract more shoppers, not repel them with hostile road closures and ever more parking restrictions, as proposed.

The council's claim that most of the car traffic is "through" traffic and therefore irrelevant to our shops is obviously a result of the difficulty in parking. Muswell Hill has a thriving shopping centre and two large car parks. Go compare.

My gratitude to great Bill Smith

Janet Shapiro, Connaught Gardens, Muswell Hill, writes:

This is to add to what Catherine West MP wrote about Bill Smith (letters January 16).

In 2013 the Health Campaign Group, that was then Better Local Healthcare Campaign organised a public meeting on February 17 at the Muswell Centre, behind Marks and Spencer's in Muswell Hill. The speakers were Lord Nicholas Rea and Jonathan Tomlinson GP.

At that time we wanted to alert people to the threats to the NHS under the then coalition government from creeping privatisation and fragmentation, all of which has since come to pass. Our group is now Haringey Keep Our NHS Public.

Bill, being one of our supporters, and known to all and sundry in Muswell Hill as a retired GP, drummed up support and the attendance was over 200.

I am also personally grateful for his making the extreme effort to attend a party I had called last May. He walked all the way, arriving unfortunately on Saturday, the day before the party.

Needless to say he was well entertained by my family and given a lift home afterwards.

I treasure this photograph taken of him that day. Bill will be sorely missed.

The best things in life are free

Geoff Goss (committee member, Highgate Mens Pond Association, writing in a personal capacity), Torriano Avenue, Kentish Town, writes:

There are not many things that are for free these days. To walk up to Hampstead Heath, jump in the pond, at any day throughout the year, is one of the few things left - it's been a right for centuries.

To take that away now, as is being proposed by the City of London (CoL), would be a shame.

Of course there's an argument over resources. The CoL raised that issue the last time they tried to impose charges -15 years ago. I agree that there were less of us then - we were peripheral. And now with increased numbers, we swimmers are faced with the same dilemma - should we pay or not?

Well, some may argue that it's a matter of pragmatism - you've got to live in the "real world" - you cant expect such things to be free these days.

Underlying this dilemma, this dispute, is a key question - does the CoL manage Hampstead Heath as a service or as a commercial enterprise? If swimmers start paying, no matter how small the fee, everyone has to realise that costs and prices will only go one way - upwards! Can you imagine being obliged to pay for a swim in the sea? The context is essentially the same!

We don't want a situation where future generations of swimmers who might be referred to as "customers" look back one day and wonder why it was that in 2020 they lost the right to access Hampstead Heath ponds freely. And why, in 2020, the swimmers and people of Camden did not fight to stop what amounts to a historic modern day enclosure of common land? And why in 2020 people did not appreciate that some of the best things in life are for free.

Green movement is taking shape

Cllr Kirsten Hearn, cabinet member, Climate and Sustainability, Haringey Council, writes:

Last week the Ham & High published a letter which stated that Haringey was "waiting for a lead from central government" when it came to dealing with climate change, but the reality is this couldn't be further from the case.

Having declared a climate emergency last year, we will soon publish the first fully costed and measurable Zero Climate Action Plan in London, as we work towards making our borough carbon neutral by 2041, and the council itself carbon neutral by 2025. This builds on our previous work to take action on climate change, including publishing the council's annual carbon report which shows efforts to address emissions from the council and the community and our 40:20 target, to reduce carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2020, which is on track to be delivered.

This year's budget earmarks further investment to take further action to reduce the borough's carbon footprint. We are investing £3 million to roll out School Streets the borough (this is not dependent on external funding, as the author of the letter stated, but we do hope to obtain funding from partners to deliver more school streets). Our budget also provides capital investment for new EV charging points, a fleet of new electric vehicles for our parks, £7million in new LED street lighting bulbs to reduce energy costs, and over £100 million for Homes for Haringey to improve the energy efficiency of our social housing stock.

Furthermore, in November last year, under the direction of Cllr Matt White, chairman of Haringey Combined Pensions Committee and Board, The Haringey Pension Fund moved its "emerging markets equities" investments into a low carbon alternative and has invested £70million in renewable energy.

Haringey Labour is also working closely alongside our Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who's pledged to make London the "greenest city in the world" by making it carbon neutral by 2030 if re-elected. Bold action from Sadiq supports our efforts at a local level. Already, Sadiq has given Haringey Council a £4.8 million grant for our Liveable Crouch End project, to encourage active travel.

The environment shouldn't be a prop for publicity stunts - climate change is a global crisis affecting us all.

Locally, Labour is working to deliver real change on this issue, despite unprecedented cuts to our council budget as a result of austerity implemented over the last 10 years by the Lib Dems and Conservatives when in government.

Jean Simmons is buried in Highgate

Tracy Granger, full address supplied, writes:

I read Walter Roberts' letter about Jean Simmons. And good news...

It's not shrouded in secrecy. Let me try to help.

And it would be great if she would cone day receive a blue blueplack. her address in Crickelwood was: 120 Cheviot Gardens, Cricklewood, London, NW2 1QA.

First of all there is a public Facebook page where there are some lovely shots scans and stories. Started out as a family and friends thing - Also there are some lovely photos on: this facebook page

Secondly, her ashes are buries is in Santa Monica in a small garden over looking the canyons across from the house she lived in for last 50 years on Adelaide Drive. It is where the flowering cherry tree is, it blooms on her birthday, January 31.

Jean was born in Crouch End in 1929 and lived near the crematorium but moved to Cricklewood a few years later where is where she grew up.

Yes she is indeed buried in the old part of Highgate Cemetery, the West Gate on the left as you come up.

She was cremated so half of her ashes are in Highgate and the other half in a garden under a flowering pear tree.

One daughter Tracy lives in London and her other daughter Kate lives in LA. They both needed some place to go when they missed her.

Tracy felt her main place to rest was in Highgate as she was a North London girl for sure.

But she lived in Santa Monica for most of her life.

So she's there too. Jean is global.