Ham&High letters: HS2, volunteer, library services, parking, charity, 5p bag,Carillion, underground access, C11 and the Holocaust

What the HS2 station at Euston could look like. Picture: GRIMSHAW ARCHITECTS/PA IMAGES

What the HS2 station at Euston could look like. Picture: GRIMSHAW ARCHITECTS/PA IMAGES - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

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

Time to halt controversial HS2 scheme

Kate Fairhurst, Swiss Cottage Conservatives, writes:

Yet again, the anguish of HS2 has been plastering our local and national press recently. Yet again, we are reminded that this project is ill-judged, destructive and out of control.

The local papers covered the protests at Euston last week and the clear anxiety of those residents who will have to endure this project for years to come.

I spent three years leading on HS2 for Cheryl Gillan MP, who has campaigned vociferously against the project.

I have great sympathy for those whose lives will be turned upside down and the unacceptable way they have been treated by HS2 Ltd over the past eight years.

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It is astonishing that the House of Commons will be considering the line from Birmingham to Crewe next week, when Phase 1 of the project remains completely tangled up in problems and controversy.

Surely there is only so much of taxpayers’ money that can be poured into this project?

What needs to happen next for the project to reach breaking point?

When will residents’ concerns and environmental issues be brought to the fore?

It must be time to cancel HS2. If the government did that, it would have the support of Camden Conservatives.

Join recruitment roadshow to volunteer

Paul Laird, Marie Curie volunteering operations manager, writes:

January is that time of the year when we all hope to start afresh and promise we will once again try to better ourselves - be that through fitness, diet or by helping others.

This year, Marie Curie will be running a national staff and volunteering recruitment roadshow to promote the work of our charity and get even more volunteers on board. The first of this series of events will take place at the Marie Curie Hospice, Hampstead, on Thursday February1 between 4pm-7pm.

At Marie Curie, we rely on our volunteers and staff in all roles to help us provide care and support to people living with a terminal illness and their families.

We have roles within our hospices, in our offices, at events and in our communities as well as in our charity shops and fundraising teams across London and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Marie Curie Nurses are a key part of the charity and we offer free nursing care to people with all terminal illnesses, as well as support for family and friends. We are always on the lookout for more nurses to join us providing this vital service to patients and families across London. There are many reasons for volunteering. Some people may want to give back to the charity if it has supported a family member. Youngsters will have an opportunity to build their skills as they get ready to enter the working world. And retirees can continue using the skills they have built throughout their careers.

Some of our hospice-based volunteering roles include reception volunteering, gardening, administration volunteering and ward support as a hospice catering assistant, providing staff with help to distribute meals and drinks throughout the day.

In the community, you could give your time as a collection box coordinator, looking after collection boxes in shops, garages and other venues all across the area and helping with the banking of the monies collected.

Everyone is welcome to come along to our roadshow and find out more about the great jobs and volunteering opportunities on offer with Marie Curie. Come and chat with our staff and volunteers over a cuppa.and hear more about our vacancies and application process.

You’ll also get to see the vital work Marie Curie does to support families in your community.

By joining Marie Curie you’ll become part of a committed team that works to provide the best possible care and support for people living with a terminal illness, and their families. Book online now at mariecurie.org.uk/joinus or call 0800 304 7032 for further information about the event and how to become a Marie Curie volunteer.

Library laws need changing soon

Keith Martin, of Friern Park, North Finchley, writes:

Jon King’s article puts the case for the statutory duty of local authorities under the 1964 Libraries Act to provide comprehensive and efficient library services.

Barnet Council used to do this, but is currently in breach of the law.

Cllr Reuben Thompstone feebly tries to justify it. “We have redesigned our service to allow us to keep all fourteen libraries open”, and trumpets that “there has been a very positive uptake with the self-service facility, with more than 17,000 people having signed up.”

Yes, 17,000 out of an electorate of 350,000, who will be voting on May 3 for a council to cease immediately the castration of the library services.

The new culture secretary Matthew Hancock, and Cllr Richard Cornelius, leader of Barnet Council, need urgently to reconsider implementing the law under the 1964 Act

Tackle parking issues now!

Maria Higson, West Hampstead Conservative council candidate, writes:

Despite the heroic efforts of local residents looking to tackle the problems, parking and traffic across West Hampstead’s Maygrove and Iverson Road area is still an issue that Camden Council seems determined not to fully engage with.

Under pressure from residents, Camden Council has opened a limited consultation on one proposed traffic safety measure on Maygrove Road.

However, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the problems documented by local residents: the lack of parking, the constant traffic jams on the overcrowded streets, and the consequences of over-development.

The consultation includes space for additional comments, and I’d urge residents to take this opportunity to voice their concerns.

The consultation is open until February 2 at bit.ly/MaygroveRoadConsultation.

More concerning is the way that Camden Council, and West Hampstead’s Labour councillors, have neglected to publicise this consultation. Given its limited scope, and go-live date of December 22, residents have asked if it was actually designed to remain hidden.

As of the time of writing, I cannot see a single tweet about this ‘consultation’, even to inform the very residents’ association whose concerns the consultation is supposedly in response to!

We are supporting residents requesting a fair and full consultation on traffic and parking issues in the Maygrove and Iverson Road area, something Camden Council has refused.

A petition is ongoing at tinyurl.com/CAQParkingPetition.

Charity run for mental health

Robert Marsh, director income generation, Combat Stress, writes:

On June 9, 2018 I will be taking part in Nightrider London, a moonlit charity cycle ride, to raise vital funds for Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health.

As the director income generation at Combat Stress and a former serviceman myself, I’m proud to work for a charity that helps veterans with mental health problems rebuild their lives.

Each year we receive more than 2,000 referrals from former servicemen and women struggling with their mental health.

It’s really important that we raise funds for the charity to ensure we can continue to provide support to every veteran who comes to us for help, events like Nightrider are a great way for us to do this.

We’re keen to have lots of people join Team Combat Stress at the event to help us raise as much money as possible for the charity.

There are two routes available, either a 100km or a 50km ride, and it will be a fantastic way to see the sights of London at night whilst raising money for a really worthy cause.

Readers can sign up or find out more information on our website – combatstress.org.uk/nightrider.

I hope to see some of you there.

Plans to extend 5p bag usage

Justin Hinchcliffe, Fortis Green LibDems, writes:

In a cynical and desperate ploy to try to win over young people to her party, Theresa May’s Brexit Conservatives have announced plans to extend the 5p charge for plastic bags to all retailers (small ones are currently exempt).

Well, where to start? This proposed ban on free bags, is Britain finally accepting an established and sensible EU regulation which the government has signaled it now wishes to adopt (don’t you just love irony?).

A complete ban was first suggested by Lib Dems in government - only for the likes of Micheal Gove (now at DEFRA) to kick it into the long grass.

The introduction of a small fee for plastic bags in our supermarkets has seen an 80per cent fall in take up - meaning a record number of people are re-using their bags when doing the groceries.

This is evident to me as I walk my dog, Dexter: I only spot those little “free” white or blue bags blowing over grassed areas or caught in-between tree branches.

Despite the extension being supported even by the industry representing small retailers, green groups and the overwhelming majority of members of the public, the Tories want to put this to a “consultation”- rather like asking Labradors if they like food!

Don’t bother, on this occasion, with a consultation, PM - it will be costly and time-wasting - just get on with it for EU’s sake!

Public sector should provide

Rebecca Shirazi, Richard Chadwick, Gail McAnena Wood, Labour candidates for Frognal & Fitzjohns ward, write:

The Carillion scandal has highlighted the fact that the public sector should now be the default provider of public services.

If we win Frognal & Fitzjohns ward from the Conservatives in the local elections this May, as your councillors we will do everything in our power to ensure public services provided by the council are brought in-house wherever sensible and possible.

We would also like to see when services are contracted out to the private sector, as in some cases this may be necessary, that locally run businesses are the beneficiaries of such contracts.

Step-free access to tube station

David Brescia, Conservative candidate for West Hampstead ward, Ian Cohen, Conservative candidate for Fortune Green ward, write:

The number of people using West Hampstead Underground Station has increased 50 per cent in five years, making it now one of the busiest stations in Camden outside of zone 1.

Transport for London has previously said expanding the station – and installing a lift for the elderly, disabled and parents with small children – would be too expensive without a financial contribution from Camden Council.

The station has become overcrowded in part because of the many new high-density residential developments that Camden Council has approved in the vicinity.

The council receives money from developers which is supposed to be spent on community infrastructure to cope with the added population pressure, but under Labour too much of the money from developments in West Hampstead is instead being spent on projects in other wards.

There are still more towers likely to be packed around our tube station in the next few years, and it is vital that some of the money Camden receives from these developments be set aside to improve access to West Hampstead tube station, including a lift.

Disappointment at C11 cuts

Cllr Adam Harrison, cabinet member for improving Camden’s environment, writes:

There has been significant concern of late about the C11 bus service. As Ham & High readers will know, this is a vital link route for many.

TfL has introduced a 20 per cent reduction in the service. As a result I wrote to TfL last month to express my disappointment at the cut.

I pointed out the large number of schools and major hospitals of the Whittington and the Royal Free that the route serves.

I also made clear the importance of maintaining bus services in general in order to encourage people to travel more sustainably. The risk now is that a less regular and less reliable service could lead to a fall in the number of passengers, who may turn to more polluting methods of travel in order to get around.

This is the last thing we want to see happen at a time when we are battling London’s dirty air.

People need to feel confident both that a bus will turn up, and that they will be able to board it when it does.

Even before the cut, it was not unknown to see the C11 sailing past people waiting at bus stops, packed to the gills and unable to take any more on.

The C11 is a vital east-west route across north-central Camden, reaching the parts other routes don’t. I urge others to make their voices heard about this.

Remembering the Holocaust

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, writes:

This year’s theme for Holocaust Memorial Day on Saturday, January 27 is ‘The power of words’.

This January, at around 8,000 events across the country, hundreds of thousands of

people will gather to reflect on the power of words, and how they were used in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, in propaganda to incite hatred, in slogans written in resistance, and in memoirs to record survivors’ experiences.

Holocaust Memorial Day is about remembering the atrocities of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, but also about finding ways to make sure they can never happen again.

Recognising the power our words have is an important first step. On Holocaust Memorial Day I ask you to choose to use your words for good.

For more information on how you can get involved with this year’s events, go to hmd.org.uk