Ham&High letters: Graffiti, Prince of Wales Road proposals, open Haringey, Brexit, remember Bungaree and parking

Graffiti like this on shutters at Pyramid Dry Cleaners in Belsize Lane is a problem. Photo: MARIO MI

Graffiti like this on shutters at Pyramid Dry Cleaners in Belsize Lane is a problem. Photo: MARIO MILOVANOVIC - Credit: Marko Milovanovic

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

How can we stop graffiti?

Marko Milovanovic, Belsize Park, writes:

Here are a few photographs I made on my way from England’s Lane to Belsize Village.

But this is only part of the picture because the whole of Belsize Park from Swiss Cottage and Hampstead Theatre to Belsize Park station and possibly beyond is covered with this graffiti.

People paint over them but they often reappear in the same places over and over again, like in the case of the former XO premises.

I’m not sure whether the council or police are doing anything about it, but if they could let us know on the pages of the Ham&High that would be great.

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Removing traffic islands risks safety of pedestrians and cyclists near school

Nick Harding, St Ann’s Gardens, Belsize Park, writes:

I refer to previous correspondence about the one-way cycle lane proposed for Prince of Wales Road.

Given the importance this has to the safety of pedestrians, including the old and disabled and not least pupils who go to and from Haverstock and other schools, an update is called for.

I hope promoters of this scheme including Cllr Adam Harrison (the responsible Camden cabinet member), London and Camden Cycling Campaigns and Living Streets respond to what follows.

Just 46 (10 per cent) of those responding to the consultation came from the consultation area, which didn’t even include Maitland Park Villas or Queens Crescent. Twenty-eight of the 46 supported the scheme.

In total 486 supported the scheme including 239 from outside Camden. Consider what the local response would have been if what follows was known.

Six of the eight traffic islands between Haverstock Hill and Grafton Road are to be removed. Nowhere was this mentioned in anything that was sent to those consulted. The only reference I can find in documents which informed this decision were in a feasibility study stating: “An additional negative aspect is that pedestrians need to cross informal crossings in one go as all existing refuge islands (two in total) will be removed to accommodate the cycle track. However, the footway will be built out and the crossing distance will not increase [...] For this reason, a slightly positive rating is given.”

Do these people ever walk or have children at Haverstock School? Removing the islands means vehicles can overtake, crash into vehicles going in the opposite direction and create situations which are dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians.

London Living Streets, a charity founded to champion the interests of pedestrians, is quoted as supporting the scheme including the removal of the islands. The preamble to the decision reads: “Living Streets made clear their support for the scheme.” And in the Single Member Decision Report: “The proposals are supported by Living Streets.”

In response to a local person who wrote to him, Cllr Harrison wrote that Living Streets, which represents pedestrians, has studied the scheme and welcomes the removal of the islands, commenting that: “London Living Streets believes that where pedestrians cross, the distance should be as short as possible, that there should be frequent places to cross amongst vehicles moving at a slow speed and that they should able to cross the road in one go; they not be stranded in the middle of the road amongst motor traffic fumes. The proposed measures in Prince of Wales Road support this.”

The person making that claim is incorrect as to LLS’s policy. He is a leading Camden Cycling Campaign member.

Clearly, Camden and Cllr Harrison put a lot of weight on Living Street’s support and one wonders if it didn’t make all the difference.

Shared space at the downhill junction of Haverstock Hill and Prince of Wales Road is to be changed so that what is now pavement becomes part of the highway on which pedestrians have some rights due to zebra markings.

The lunacy of making cycling legal on that downhill corner can best be appreciated by standing there and observing cycles coming down the hill and turning left.

We remain ‘open and tolerant’

Cllr Joseph Ejiofor, leader of Haringey Council, writes an open letter to Haringey’s EU citizens:

As the Brexit deadline of March 29 approaches, I have not doubt that many of you will be feeling anxious about the ongoing uncertainty over the UK’s Brexit terms and what that means for your rights to live and work here.

I am writing to you to assure you that, whatever happens, we want Haringey to remain an open, tolerant and diverse borough in which you feel welcome.

Haringey is a vibrant and multicultural borough, where people of all cultures are proud to live. We have a long history of welcoming migrants from all over the world and I value the spirit of openness and tolerance that Haringey is rightly associated with. We have 42,000 non-British and Irish European citizens living in Haringey (almost one in every six residents) and I want to assure that each of you feels welcome here now, and will remain feeling welcome here in the future.

You are our friends, neighbours, family and colleagues, and you make an enormous contribution to the cultural and economic life of our borough. Many of you run thriving local businesses; others of you work in roles that are essential to vital local services, or play roles that are important in our community in other ways.

I am committed, on behalf of the council, to helping ensure our EU residents know what they need to do to protect their rights and apply for settled or pre-settled status to stay in the UK beyond December 2020. Where you need more support, we want to make sure you receive this. Our dedicated Brexit webpage will continue to be updated with information as it becomes available – haringey.gov.uk/brexit, which includes information on how to register for settled or pre-settled status.

To reaffirm our support for EU nationals, and anyone who may be concerned about a friend or family member, the council will hold a Brexit public meeting on Monday from 6pm to 8pm at Haringey Civic Centre, offering advice and support to residents and businesses across the borough who will be affected by Brexit. The meeting, which I have organised with support from the council’s EU citizens’ ambassador Cllr Adam Jogee, will provide residents and businesses with an opportunity to discuss their concerns and find out what support is available.

I look forward to welcoming as many EU citizens, residents and visitors as possible to our meeting on February 18. Let there be no doubt: Haringey wants you to stay and we will do everything we can to support you through the Brexit transition period and beyond.

Campaigning for better social care

Janet Shapiro, Haringey, full address supplied, writes:

Hornsey Pensioners Action Group are well aware of the present crisis in social care. But many families may be ignorant as to how unfair the system is at present, and how cash-strapped local authorities struggle to provide even the minimum of care needed.

Also, needing residential care could cost you your home. This depends upon whether you are a homeowner, alone or with a partner living there, and the sort of illness you suffer from. Care is free if you suffer from cancer, but chargeable if you have dementia.

February 1 was Dignity Action Day in support of the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) Dignity Code. This was a good opportunity to hand out leaflets revealing how bad the current situation is. The manager of the Hornsey branch of Sainsbury’s kindly allowed us to greet customers with our leaflets recently, sheltered from dismal rainy weather. The location is close to Hornsey Parish Church hall where our meetings are held; the next one is on Wednesday at 1.30pm.

New members are always welcome. For more information visit hornseypag.org.uk

Prime minister’s Brexit stance

Keith Martin, Friern Park, Finchley, writes:

Two quotes in The Guardian stand out in pinpointing how Europe has a clear view of British politicians.

Donald Tusk, February 7: “I’ve been wondering what that special place in hell looks like, for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it out safely.”

Theresa May, April 25, 2016, in G2: “I believe it is clearly in our national interest to remain a member of the European Union.”

So at least the Prime Minister backed both horses.

Give Bungaree credit he deserves

Anne Neale, Global Women’s Strike (London & Armidale, NSW), Kentish Town, full address supplied, writes:

Matthew Flinders may be “the first person in western records to sail around [Australia] in its entirety, confirming it as a continent” (Ham&High).

But those records hide the fact that an Indigenous Australian called Bungaree was in Flinders’ crew all the way, making him the first Australian to sail around his native continent.

Bungaree, a Kuringgai man from what is now the Broken Bay area of New South Wales, first came to prominence in 1798 when he accompanied Flinders on a journey between the Australian mainland and Tasmania on the Norfolk, working for the explorer as an interpreter and guide. He next accompanied Flinders on his famous circumnavigation of Australia, on HMS Investigator, between 1801 and 1803. In his book detailing his journey, Flinders described Bungaree as a “worthy and brave fellow” who saved the expedition multiple times.

According to the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee, “Bungaree [acted] as an intermediary, and if you read the journals of both Flinders and Phillip Parker King, when the various voyages came across land, Bungaree would go on shore and talk to the natives. [...] Of course he couldn’t speak the same language, so there was a lot of hand gestures and dialogue between those to communicate a safe passage and also so they could stay and chart and live off the country for a while. [...] There are some wonderful anecdotes in Parker King’s journals of going ashore and asking Bungaree ‘can we eat this plant’? And Bungaree says, ‘I don’t know what the plant is, so maybe we should not eat it’.”

That Flinders cat gets more recognition than Bungaree, without whom the travellers would likely not have survived, and that his historic contribution is as little known in Australia as it is in Flinders’ birth place, is a racist disgrace. Like Bungaree, Eddie Gilbert, the Aboriginal cricketer who bowled out the great Don Bradman, and many others have never been honoured. This lack of respectful acknowledgement has enabled the British Empire and their descendants to call the native people they conquered and occupied around the world “uncivilised” – fit only to be exploited and have their land stolen.

Parking rules hinder carers

Charles Gardner, South Yorkshire, with family ties to Hampstead, writes:

My global family were all understandably saddened when they travelled to London to say goodbye to my mum, who died just before Christmas, aged 95.

They gathered from Down Under and “up north” to pay their respects. But the Yorkshire tribe in particular will not be sorry to bid farewell to the Camden borough parking police, who have been the bane of our lives for some time.

The latter years, when mum developed dementia, were especially trying in view of the labyrinth of parking rules and regulations we had to navigate each time we visited. What should have been a relatively straightforward manoeuvre (driving down the A1) turned into a bureaucratic nightmare.

Despite her failing health, mum managed to remain in her own home – a substantial property in salubrious Hampstead that has been in the family for 84 years.

We are saddened to have to sell it, but gladdened to part company with a system that once saw my car towed away just minutes after overstaying my allotted time.

We don’t actually mind having to pay in order to park outside the family home, but the procedure for doing so is ridiculously complicated and time-consuming.

They prefer us to do it online, but even my reasonably techy wife finds that bamboozling, so we have opted to book by telephone each time. That can take anything up to 40 minutes for the privilege of going through the long story for the umpteenth time of how and why we qualify for the facility.

On several occasions they insisted on speaking to mum to confirm our status as son and daughter-in-law, but it was always a struggle to persuade them that, as she was suffering (like thousands of others) with dementia, she wouldn’t know what they were on about.

Mum was always a wonderful hostess, right up until her late 80s – providing us with three-course meals on our arrival, for instance – but the roles were reversed somewhat of late so that visiting became more like camping because we would have to bring our own bedding, pots and pans, and cook for her during our stay.

However, Camden will only allocate us with a full day’s parking a miserly 10 times a year – a number that seems to have been plucked out of the polluted London air! So it was always challenging to juggle mum’s needs with our meagre parking ration.

Fortunately, I have a sibling living nearby, but if we had been the only family able to look after her, where were we going to park for the other 355 days of the year?