Ham&High letters: Highgate School, Ravenscroft Medical Centre, Fortismere School, police cuts, Brexit, David Kitchen BEM, Nazanin cartoon, Andrew Dismore and fire keys

Share your memories about this Highgate school. Picture: IAN MURRAY

Share your memories about this Highgate school. Picture: IAN MURRAY - Credit: Ian Murray

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

Remember Highgate School?

Ian Murray, former Highgate School pupil, writes:

You may be interested in this school photo taken in the Highgate area, where I was born (April 27, 1934).

I am the tiny lad, right hand back row, standing on a chair.

I don’t know much about the school. At five years old I was only there a short time. The Second World War was declared on September 1, 1939, and I was evacuated to Wales.

I would be interested to know more about the school. Some of the other children there may have school memories, too.

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• Email letters@hamhigh.co.uk if you would like to contact Ian about his time at Highgate School

Clinical group crossed the line with its plan to move medical practice

Jean Davis, patient, Ravenscroft Medical Centre, writes:

Reading the comments from the Barnet Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) spokesperson in your article “Don’t move our surgery three miles away, pensioners plead as GP eyes site in Finchley” (January 10), it seems clear to me that Barnet CCG has prejudiced the patient consultation process required by the NHS Act 2006 when a medical practice is to close by making inaccurate public statements.

Barnet CCG is quoted as saying: “It’s important to understand that this is not a practice closure.” The report from the NHS Barnet health overview scrutiny committee (November 21, 2018) clearly states “Ravenscroft Medical Centre will move into Finchley Memorial Hospital and close their existing premises.”

Barnet CCG is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the 7,000 patients at the practice of whom many, like myself, have mobility issues and will not be able to get to Finchley Memorial Hospital on a weekly basis to pick up our prescriptions, which are essential to our quality of life.

Closing the doors of the Ravenscroft Medical Centre in Golders Green Road and moving it three miles away to Finchley Memorial Hospital is a closure, regardless of whether my records are transferred by computer to the hospital because I, like many others, simply cannot reach the hospital on a regular basis.

Barnet CCG goes on to further mislead patients by saying: “Patients will continue to see the same doctors and nurses.” Clearly, as I cannot physically get to Finchley, this will not be a possibility.

Barnet CCG should be honest and respect the intelligence of patients. In the report it states that: “The CCG will not prejudice the outcome of any (patient) consultation process.” I regret to say it already has.

Medical centre is fine where it is

A Ravenscroft Medical Centre patient, full name and address supplied, writes:

As a patient of the practice, I agree entirely with the patient quoted in your article of January 10, who said it “is not a move at all, but a closure”.

Very few London residents choose a surgery over three miles away, and if the practice moves from Golders Green to North Finchley, most patients will have to try to get registered with another practice in NW11, and they are already at full stretch.

I understand that several nearby practices in North Finchley applied to relocate to Finchley Memorial Hospital, but were turned down by Barnet Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in favour of the Ravenscroft Medical Centre, whose single GP principal is the vice-chairman of Barnet CCG.

The residents of Golders Green can already access the services of Finchley Memorial Hospital when required without having their GP surgery move there. This will be a great inconvenience without any benefit to patients. The existing medical centre already has very good facilities, and surely there is a conflict of interest in this proposal.

Allow school to move forward

A Fortismere School parent, full name and address supplied, writes:

As a Fortismere parent I am concerned to read about the apparent controversy around the proposed school redevelopment.

From my own children’s daily experience, I am well aware of the very poor state of some school buildings and it is clear that the lunch facilities for the 1,700 pupils at Fortismere are completely inadequate.

Fortismere governors have been admirably honest with parents about the problems they face in getting any central government funding to make the investments that are needed. I am pleased that they have come up with a plan in the face of this.

I do not know whether the current Haringey funding plan is the right one, but I would be troubled to see local politics stop the school being able to take these much-needed improvements forward.

Join our fight to scrap police cuts

Andrew Dismore, Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden, writes:

I am amazed at Cllr Oliver Cooper’s inability to grasp arithmetic and the detail of police funding, in his letter replying to mine.

He refers to the figure of an extra £172million – as did I. It is from then on we differ. He refers to the “government’s funding announcement”, inferring that this money comes from government. In fact, almost half of it – £80m – comes from a proposed increase in council tax, which is nothing to do with government, but comes from the pockets of hard pressed Londoners.

He suggests that this government largesse would pay for “1,600 extra police officers”, even after paying for the police pay rise and pension changes. Utter bunkum.

£45.7m is eaten up by the police pension changes; £11.7m is reimbursement of money already spent on national and international functions; and £28.8m is taken up with the police’s well deserved pay rise. This leaves just £5.8m coming from central government to pay for everything else. That would be sufficient to pay for just under 100 officers, but for one thing: inflation, which takes up rather more than that £5.8m.

Cllr Cooper might have a little more credibility if he were to join mayor Sadiq Khan, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, the Home Affairs select committee, the public accounts committee and so many others in calling on the Conservative government to reverse their £1bn cuts in the Met’s budget, cuts that have led to the many policing problems that are there for all to see.

Risk of blackmail from May’s deal

Céline La Frenière, Talacre Road, Camden, writes:

I voted Brexit because, much as I love Europe, I deeply resented the lack of democracy and unaccountability of the EU.

And yet, we find ourselves having to deal with Theresa May who – having botched up the negotiations with the EU over our withdrawal – has been panicking into banning on and off a debate over this very important issue and scaring MPs into voting her way [since this was written, Parliament has had the debate and voted down the deal – ed]

Anyone who believes that the EU will negotiate in good faith only needs to have paid attention to President Emmanuel Macron’s warning that the UK will be trapped in a custom union after Brexit unless Downing Street offers European fishermen full access to British water during the coming trade negotiations.

If the UK signs up to Mrs May’s flawed deal we would be blackmailed into giving away everything we hold dear or find ourselves trapped into the EU, having to continue to pay exorbitant fees to them, without having a say.

Mrs May has turned out to be a disappointment in every possible way because she has insisted on doing a job she was grossly unqualified to handle. Her naive attitude and lack of legal and business savvy have put the UK in jeopardy. The EU has managed to con Mrs May into accepting a deal that would be so detrimental to the UK that even it seemed surprised and delighted to have got away with it.

Recently, the chief official of the European Union, Martin Selwayr, Jean-Claude’s Juncker’s right-hand man, nicknamed the “monster”, boasted in his local paper about how good the Withdrawal Agreement was for the EU, and how bad for Britain.

May has got to go and quickly before she destroys us all. Sadly, however, there is no Churchill-ian figure coming to the rescue, no one to guide us through the swamp of the EU’s machinations into a better future.

Empire medal for Kitchen welcomed

Janine Griffis, chairman, Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum, writes:

I was very pleased to learn in the Ham&High that David Kitchen has been honoured posthumously with the British Empire Medal in recognition of his half-century of dedication to making South End Green a better place to live and work.

David was tireless in boosting local causes and events and was one of the first to support our efforts to create a Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan.

We are very pleased for David’s family that he, quite rightly, has been awarded this honour.

Free Nazanin campaign no joke

Maggie Dyer, Childs Hill, Barnet, writes:

I have for a long time been a great fan of Ken Pyne’s cartoons but am I alone in finding his cartoon in last week’s edition flippant and disappointing?

As someone who has been involved in the Free Nazanin campaign from the beginning and who desperately wants to continue to be a citizen of the EU I was saddened to see this.

In no way do I consider it to be humorous.

I wish Andrew every success

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, local campaigner, full address supplied, writes:

Andrew Dismore AM and I have never met. You would not think so judging from our robust exchange of views about Sadiq Khan’s neglect of the Metropolitan Police in regular correspondence in these pages over many weeks from March to October last year.

In our exchanges, I contended that the mayor had ordered the reduction of over 1,000 police officers last year and was responsible for the funding crisis in the Met, and Andrew disagreed vociferously.

Despite our very public crossing of swords, Andrew and I have, over the years, exchanged much genial private correspondence about the problems facing the Met and Met funding. He has always been responsive, helpful and forthright.

I have been impressed with Andrew’s drive and commitment to performing his public duty, sitting as he does on the police and crime committee of the London Assembly, among other things. This is the group which examines the work of MOPAC (Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime) which oversees the Met and holds it to account.

Andrew’s reported every month on the questions he put to senior Met and MOPAC representatives and the responses he received, and gave a good account of the depth and breadth of his research to discover significant failings to the public and concerns for Met funding. The variety of his questions demonstrated his expert grasp of the issues and left one in no doubt about his integrity in dealing with these problems.

In some of Andrew’s acerbic responses to my allegations, his loyalty to Mr Khan was discernible, albeit demonstrably misplaced when presented with the bare facts behind my allegations. But, in those exchanges, it is clear that he is a devout public servant and an asset to his party and the London Assembly.

I have enjoyed our repartees and am sure that the London Assembly will be a lesser place without him. I shall miss his demeanour and wish him every success in his future career path.

Fire key locks a target for crooks

A Hampstead resident, full address supplied, writes:

Camden Council recklessly ignores and refuses to acknowledge the criminal use of fire key locks.

These kind of locks, identical across the borough – one kind fits all, releases the main front doors to blocks of flats.

This is fine for a large custom built block whereby the postman delivers letters to each individual flat within the block. Unfortunately, Camden fitted these kind of fire key locks to small street properties whereby the postman only delivers through the main street door into a communal hallway. Post gets stolen, bank cards taken and fraudulently used.

Possibly these locks were once used only by firefighters, now they are ubiquitously used by workmen with no provable record of how many are returned after a job has been completed. Men delivering groceries now have them, and not at all surprising the criminal fraternity also have them. They can be bought on eBay for under £4.

May I suggest all those living in street properties check to see if they have a fire key lock. If they have one it is advisable to contact their ward councillors and demand that Camden dismantle the lock. The council would also be responsible in such cases for invalidating insurance policies. No insurance company with knowledge of this absurdity would pay up. Take action to protect your safety and make sure you are not vulnerable.