Ham&High letters: Huge thanks, carbon emissions, Ham&High apology, Abacus school, councillors and police

Ms Mohammed is fighting for her son. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Ms Mohammed is fighting for her son. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK - Credit: Archant

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

Thanks for your support

Ms Mohammed, All African Women's Group, Crossroads Women's Centre, writes:

I want to thank the Hampstead and Highgate Express for publishing an article in last week's edition about my family reunion case.

Other mums in my group, the All African Women's Group, have also been treated carelessly and cruelly by the Home Office.

But we have to keep fighting - what mum could leave her child in terrible troubIe?

The situation we and our children suffer is so hidden so thank you for helping to make this public.

When we started campaigning about my case I was not very hopeful.

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I am really surprised and was uplifted when I saw the great response.

I went with supporters to Saturday's Pride march where we distributed 2,000 postcards in just two hours for people to send to the Home Office. People were so receptive and keen to help. It gave me so much strength to know that I am not alone.

As you explained in your article, I cannot be public with my details for fear of reprisals against my son who is in hiding in Pakistan.

But any of your readers who would like to write in support of my case can use my Home office reference number 703655 to email Sajid Javid MP, home secretary at privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. Please send a copy to my group at aawg02@gmail.com so it can be forwarded to the judge at my court hearing. As this hearing is in August I need supporting letters by the end of July.

Many thanks again.

Cut carbon emissions with technical solutions

Richard Ferraro FRIBA, Fleet Road, Belsize Park, writes:

I'm intrigued by the council's citizen assembly on the subject of climate change. I wish them well.

However, significant in-roads into carbon emissions in the borough require large scale technical solutions.

As an architect, for 40 years I've designed and built low energy buildings, alongside significant research and development into energy conservation and renewable energy systems.

To assist the council, I've made a submission via their current consultation process, listing topic headings for their carbon cutting work.

Meanwhile, the council must not make claims that are over-optimistic or misleading. In her article in the Ham & High of July 4, 2019 ("Have your say on how to change the planet"), council leader Georgia Gould says: "Our work on climate change has seen carbon emissions in Camden reduce by 37 per cent since 2010."

I questioned this figure recently and received an email from Harold Garner, LBC's head of sustainability, air quality and energy confirming that: "Camden's emissions have fallen by 32pc since 2010.

"Much of this progress results from the decarbonisation of the national electricity grid."

First, it appears the "official figure" is 32pc not 37pc. Second, the council's own contribution to achievement of reduced carbon emissions has been small, indicating an absolute need for very significant improvement. Indeed, it can be argued that carbon emissions from the council's housing stock have increased, with the removal of insulated cladding from numerous buildings.

That's not the council's fault, given concern over fire related issues.

However, if the council was serious about reducing carbon emissions in the borough, it would lead by example and achieve "Enerphit" low carbon standards in the further refurbishment of Chalcots and other re-cladding projects. ("Enerphit" standards are demanding, and currently being achieved by some local authorities.)

In reality, the achievement of zero carbon can only happen if there is a co-ordinated effort to achieve demanding technical standards across the borough.

With other public and private sector bodies, Camden Council must act, not just talk.

An apology to Barry McKay

Dr Richard Nicholl, Holly Mount, Hampstead, writes:

I now understand that, contrary to my suggestion in my letter to the Ham&High last week ("Dr Woolfson is not the guilty party'"), Barry McKay is not and never has been a "fly tipper".

I apologise for giving that impression and for suggesting he might not "follow the rules" with respect to Camden's waste recycling. He clearly does.

I have made a donation to the charity Dogs on the Streets as a gesture of goodwill.

Editor's note:

In last week's Ham&High, we published a letter that wrongly suggested bags of rubbish had been put out in the street by Barry McKay (Letters, p14-15, "Dr Woolfson is not the guilty party").

In fact, Mr McKay did not put any of the bags out himself, and we understand that fly tipping by persons unknown had been a general problem in the street.

We are sorry for the error and are happy to clarify the situation.

Abacus School has my support

L Jacobs, Golders Green, Hampstead, full address supplied, writes:

Abacus School are seeking space in which to establish themselves. Jack Straw's Castle is vacant and seeking an occupier.

This certainly would be a much greener and better option to house children in and a far less polluted and congested area in which to set up a new school.

Coupled with the fact that there is parking adjacent where a school bus could pull into without offence and which to boot is not being overused.

This position should offend very few. The question is will those in charge grasp the nettle! And be brave enough to change course?

Why we should block Abacus

Todd Berman and Andrew Neale, co-chairmen of The Hampstead Committee for Responsible Development, write:

Three years ago, Camden Council voted unanimously to stop the development of Hampstead Police Station by Abacus Belsize Park Primary School.

Abacus Belsize has applied for planning permission again. We're not opposed to Abacus Belsize Park School - but we are opposed to this new planning application.

At over £20m, this will be the most expensive free primary school ever built in the United Kingdom. On top of being given a £14m building with a reported further £7m spent on the fit out, the school will also have income from a new Business Centre which will be established in the police station.

Our local state schools are under enormous financial pressure - by adding more school spaces to an already oversupplied area, the financial strain to existing state schools will get worse.

There's no need for a new state primary school in Hampstead. In and around Hampstead and Belsize Park, there are already more than 650 more primary school places than are needed. Over the next decade, this oversupply of school places will double as forecasted demand drops (2018 Annual School Places Planning Process Report, Camden Council).

Abacus Belsize is a commuter school. The school has a dedicated catchment area which expressly excludes Hampstead children (The Abacus Belsize Website). The school should be located at one of the suitable sites within Belsize Park.

Abacus Belsize will put more cars on Hampstead's roads. Traffic experts estimate at least 25 per cent of Abacus Belsize parents will drive their children to or from the school each day. (This figure does not include the vans and lorries driving to and from the school to deliver food and supplies, or the vehicles used by maintenance workers, or the cars that will deliver and collect staff, cleaners and visitors.)

In other words, Abacus Belsize is proposing to put more cars - equating to more than 200 additional car trips each school day - on Hampstead's roads.

In addition to a permanent increase in the number of cars on Hampstead's roads, twice a day, during the school run, Abacus Belsize proposes to put an additional 400 parents and children, plus staff, plus those in their business centre - approximately 500 people - at one of the busiest intersections in Hampstead. This increased congestion will slow traffic and will increase cars queuing and idling - creating more noise and more air pollution.

At Hampstead Police Station, vehicle emissions are already above the government's "safe" level. These levels of pollution are wholly unacceptable for the elderly, infirm and children.

To grant planning permission for Abacus Belsize is to consent to an increase in pollution that will hurt Hampstead residents and knowingly expose children to harm.

Local planning policy unequivocally forbids this development. "Hampstead and Belsize Park have a very high concentration of schools where significant issues exist concerning the "school run". We will refuse applications for new schools or the expansion of existing schools in these areas, unless it can be demonstrated the number of traffic movements will not increase." Camden Local Plan (2017) 4.33 by Camden Council.

At a time when most of us are trying to reduce the rate of climate change in general, and London's pollution in particular, this planning application is shockingly ill judged.

Please write—objecting to Planning Application Number 2019/2375/P—to Mr David Fowler: david.fowler@camden.gov.uk

Time to oppose is running out. We urge all those who care about Hampstead's past -- and more importantly its future -- to join us in opposing this planning application now.

Right to question our councillors

Bob Jacobson, Greenway Close, Totteridge, writes:

Saving money, at what expense? Cllr Cohen claims (Ham&High: Barnet Council criticised over cuts to public questions at meetings) that the few regular speakers at the comments and questions portion of Barnet's public committee meetings "put(s) other residents off participating"; that they "worry about about their public participation time being hijacked".

He's making that up. The present system already ensures that no one hogs the floor. The change sought by the administration is simply a way to muzzle the often important corrections and observations that reference poor choices being made continually by both officers and councillors.

The so-called "political agenda" mentioned by Cllr Cohen is actually residents speaking about what is true and what is practical. This issue is not about procedural "efficiency" as claimed by the diktat, it is about whether there is enough decency left within the local Tory majority to allow its critics to give and receive information publicly.

Mayor still has time to help Met

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, local campaigner, writes:

Andrew Dismore enjoys poking fun at me by suggesting that I have fallen asleep on the devastating cuts to our Met with falling police numbers.

While I note his attempt at being funny, this is no laughing matter. You see, Mr Dismore and I are both right. He is right that the Conservative government's cuts have been harmful but I am also right that Mayor Khan has used his moment to wash his hands of the destruction of the Met, sending them to their demise.

Mr Dismore did not deny that over £400,000 was wasted on a beach party in Newham or that £400m is planned for an exclusive cycle/pedestrian footway at Rotherhithe - funds which could have been diverted to the Met. Mayor Khan knows that if he kept the Met financially afloat, he could not point a finger at the government for their abject failure to fund him properly.

And, why would he not use the Met as a political football - everyone else does.

It is politics that is at stake here after all - not the lives of Londoners who are sliced and diced each day, officers who are attacked and stressed to breaking point and a frightened public.

Mr Dismore probably receives emails from traumatised residents, as do I, who have been ram raided in their homes or attacked on the streets and then told the next day by the Met that their cases have been closed. For the first time in living memory (mine anyway), the public have been abandoned to crime at a level previously unseen.

In answer to Mr Dismore's gauntlet which he threw down in his letter, I have prepared petitions in the past which I have delivered to Downing Street urging the government to fund the Met properly.

I have written to Theresa May and others including him, but my representations have fallen on deaf ears.

The failure, and I do accept that it is a failure, of the petition regarding an increase in council tax does not demonstrate that a referendum of Londoners won't achieve more funds for the Met. What it shows is that it is difficult for the public to engage with funding issues for the Met as it is a complex subject and many people do not understand why they should put their hands in their pockets when this is the job of Mayor Sadiq Khan and the government.

If cuts continue at their present rate, which sees more continuing into 2023, we can say goodbye to our police force and our freedom.

Mr Dismore ends his letter by saying money which Boris spent on the garden bridge could have been used on the Met and he laments the state of TfL's budget.

But that does not answer the questions I put to him about the mayor's spending plans on extravagances.

What is the point of spending £22m on staff who cannot leave their homes because of the real fear that they will be attacked before they reach the sanctuary of the office?

Yes, the Conservative government is at fault and Boris Johnson, the man responsible for the start of the reckless and devastating cuts to the Met, may well be chosen to be our next prime minister. While the Conservative government must take responsibility for its actions, so must Sadiq Khan.

In an election year, he has all to play for by doing the right thing by the Met and funding them properly so that less Londoners end up in hospital and/or die day by day. Will he man up to his task and stop pointing Mr Dismore's finger at everyone else but himself.