Readers’ letters: Waste Plan, naturism, traffic calming, renters and heritage

Alexandra Palace turned red on Monday night, in partnership with Zeal Productions, in solidarity wit

Alexandra Palace turned red on Monday night, in partnership with Zeal Productions, in solidarity with the arts industries, hard-hit by the pandemic. Picture: Lloyd Winter/Alexandra Palace. - Credit: Archant

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

Concerns over pollution and cost

John Stratton, Thurlow Road, Hampstead, writes:

Judging by Cllr Clyde Loakes’ attitude and comments he has no right to be chairman of the North London Waste Authority. Apart from his rudeness to people who raised legitimate concerns over cost and excess capacity, there is also a major concern over air pollution at a time when everyone realises the vast improvement in air conditions since the virus lockdown and boroughs are working hard to reduce their carbon footprint and go green.

From comments made it is shocking to find that five of the seven boroughs involved were not even consulted and the wasteful excess capacity, cost and medical consequences are quite appalling. His indifference to legitimate concerns and his response to Cllr Tammy Palmer should rather be read as “with power comes responsibility to take note of all aspects of the proposal, have the grace to listen sympathetically to legitimate concerns, reconsider and not be afraid to make changes to avoid waste (in both senses) and pollution”.

Having chosen to ignore or dismiss them all with sarcastic and insulting comments, he - unlike Cllr Palmer - is not fit for office and if he will not stand down, he should be removed. These concerns are of major consequence at this time and if as a Tory he can - incredibly – also dismiss the plea from his elder and better Tory statesman, Sir Ian Duncan Smith MP, he should go.

Stephen Brice, chairman, Pinkham Way Alliance, writes:

Cllr Loakes patronisingly dismissed most public contributions to the recent North London Waste Authority (NLWA) meeting about the new incinerator proposals at Edmonton.

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He sensibly stayed silent after the comments from my Pinkham Way Alliance colleague Evelyn Ryan. Ms Ryan highlighted the dangers of proceeding in the absence both of strategic support from a local joint waste strategy (JWS) and of evidential support caused by the continuing failure of the North London Waste Plan (NLWP). In London, the average time from inception to adoption of a waste plan is 4-5 years. 13 years in and counting, the NLWP still can’t produce a credible draft, its latest attempt having comprehensively failed last November.

NLWA’s demands for the plan to generate predetermined outcomes have usurped the plan’s proper function as an objective regional planning document.

The debacle at last November’s public hearings centred on the inflated waste forecasts that were the basis for planning approval for the new incinerator.

NLWA’s waste consultants had in 2014 expressed serious reservations about forecasting more than a “very small number of years into the future”, but nonetheless produced “guesstimates” out to mid-century. The independent Waste Planning Inspector roundly rejected them and the underlying methodology.

Normally an inspector will recommend modifications required to enable a sound plan.

The NLWP inspector considered the flaws so deep-seated, however, that he sent the councils away to ponder whether to withdraw the plan and start again.

NLWA’s demands over the past decade or so mean that the NLWP has become nothing more than a self-justificatory dustbin for the authority’s historic strategic errors, and now for faux-entrepreneurial ambitions that extend well beyond its own region to feed this over-sized new plant.

These last 13 years must have cost millions. How many more thousands of hours will North London planning officers waste in fruitless hammering of square NLWA pegs into round NLWP holes?


John Palmer, Fitzjohn’s Avenue, writes:

The Royalist spokeswoman is quite mistaken in what she said, The Ponds July 2, understandably, as women are not allowed access and she does not know the place.

There is a small orthodox group that keeps to itself in one corner and uses the pond for its ritual practice, but with which there has never been any disharmony, other than which naturism has always been standard practice and which goes back as far as anyone can recall and this has always been free.

This oppressive barrier was installed after a barrister’s complaint that his two small children had been upset. He should have taken them to the family pond instead, and it needs to be permanently removed as it takes up much valuable space.

There is also much adjoining unused land that could be easily cleared allowing enlargement of a facility that is much too small for the large numbers that on a hot day seek to enjoy it.

That is why the Heath should be taken back once more into the accountable ownership of a body that will make such an investment and seek to give full attention to its proper enjoyment in a spirit of hope and equality with which everyone will be happy

Emma James, Highgate Road, Highgate, writes:

While not being personally familiar with the layout at the Men’s Pond as a woman is not allowed entry, I do know that naturist sunbathing there has a long and proud history, whereas at the Ladies Pond only topless bathing is permitted.

That the Corporation has come to terms with modern attitudes and has agreed to allow naturist sunbathing from now on is welcome.


Cllrs Nick da Costa, Josh Dixon, Alessandra Rossetti, Lib Dem Alexandra ward, write:

As other boroughs set the pace, Haringey Council has been slow in responding to requests for traffic calming measures and calls for a low-traffic neighbourhood raised by councillors and local residents in our ward of Alexandra.

Motorists trying to avoid traffic lights on Bounds Green Road are cutting through our residential areas, meaning that locals have to endure traffic, poor air quality and road rage on a daily basis.

Despite funding for active travel now made available by Transport for London and the statutory duty put by the government on local authorities to take measures to reallocate road space to walking and cycling, our residential streets are still plagued by speeding and rat running.

Will Haringey start listening to its residents and use the available funding to improve their quality of life? Or will it just prove once and for all that funding is not the problem, but rather political will and a lack of ambition to make our streets truly safe?


Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party, Highgate councillor, London mayoral candidate and London Assembly member, writes:

Neither the Conservatives nor Labour are doing enough to help renters hit by the coronavirus crisis. Those who have been unable to pay rent are still expected to pay it back under both parties’ policies. Under pressure, the government has temporarily extended the ban on evictions, but further action is needed now.

The Green Party, housing campaigners, and renters’ unions are calling for a permanent ban on eviction under Section 8 of the Housing Act where the crisis has caused arrears, the scrapping of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, improved benefits to cover future rents and - crucially - for rent arrears built up during the crisis to be forgiven.

Some landlords who rely on rent income may struggle if debts are cancelled. We are listening to them too. All parties should call with equal vigour for a scheme where landlords can claim government support according to need, like any other small business.

Any renter who has struggled and run up arrears should not face a burden of debt for years into the future.

Many of us were already fully stretched paying London’s sky high rents before this crisis started. Labour needs to join our calls for rent debt forgiveness now, and the Government needs to hear a united voice from opposition parties behind the right policy.


Nancy Jirira, Barnet, full address supplied, writes:

I am writing about the pace at which the removal of statues and such memorabilia of those who gained from the inhuman trafficking in the 19th century when they engaged in the slave trade of Africans.

My daughter went to Beckford Primary School in Broomsleigh Street here in West Hampstead. There is a petition to dissociate the school from Mr Beckford who lived in the cottages behind our fire station. The call to dissociate and have the name change has been going on before the current wave of feeling about this across the country.

There is a Beckford Trust that contributes to a well known school in Jamaica. The school dropped the name “Beckford”. This is an opportunity for our school to do the same, drop the name and set up an educational trust supported by the Beckford Trust. This trust should also include supporting two children, a boy and a girl every year through to university.

My purpose for writing through the Ham&High is to call also for a local debate about the wider picture and to ask Camden Council to consult with residents if there are plans to change or remove local statues and structures.

The existence of statues in the public areas and not in museums help us as we walk by to be aware of the abhorrent acts of slavery that were committed. If the removal of the statues or names is the objective of the current move then I am afraid, we too would slow walk in the current re-awakening of what we are being called to do. Those who have marched in anger for or against “no justice no peace’ have drawn to our attention the pain suffered because of racism.

1. Racism in all our institutions persists in spite of so many reports - such as the “snowy white peaks” in the NHS by Roger Kline.

2. Covid-19 and it’s impact on some population groups in UK, out of the total who have died, up to 50 per cent are from Bengali and 10-50pc from BAME communities.

3. USA race riots and the global impact of injustices.

All these are painful triggers for unrest, for the underlying thread is racism and the downtrodden underclass.

In the UK what is our understanding of racism?

To some of us it is not a fashion fad. We do not and cannot park it and come back to it. We all need to talk.

So back to Beckford Primary we can sign the petition to change the name but we also want the Beckford Trust to right the historic wrong by contributing to the education of our local children and community.


Elena Moynihan, Hampstead, writes:

As we approach the end of lockdown it is worth taking a minute to acknowledge the sterling work of the staff on the ground from Veolia and the City of London Corporation.

Camden’s Veolia refuse collectors have managed to regularly and consistently collect all our domestic rubbish and recycling with almost no disruption to the service, even at the height of the pandemic. Considering the large increase to the collections and the staffing gaps that they must have experienced this was nothing short of miraculous.

An even greater shout-out to the Corporation’s heath rangers. Anybody walking the Heath early morning following a hot day would have come across the atrocious spectacle left behind by the visiting crowds: dog-excrement bags everywhere, dirty nappies, broken bottles, and much more. Yet this was all sorted out daily and by mid morning the Heath looked pristine. Park rangers are not rubbish collectors and yet they just cracked on with it, even with depleted numbers.

Well done and a big thank you!