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Ham&High letters: Anti-Trump, Dickens set, Bishops Avenue, Belsize Village, dogs in the pond, Amber Rudd, Barnet libraries, environment, Abacus School and Magdala pub

PUBLISHED: 16:30 06 June 2019

Linda Grove attended last year's and this week's anti-Trump protests.

Linda Grove attended last year's and this week's anti-Trump protests.

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

Why I went on anti-Trump demo

Linda Grove, community campaigner, full address supplied, writes:

I went on the last Trump march and the one this week because I believe Donald Trump and Boris Johnson both to be dangerous men who lie for their personal ambition.

My hat said: "Go home, Trump, and take Boris with you."

Both men are not nice to their families and have egos as big as the universe.

You can't trust what comes out of the mouths of either of them.

Boris falling to find Abacus school a local home, making the situation worse for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and lying to the disenfranchised members of our country.

Trump lies and threatens members of our world in the same way Hitler did.

Meanwhile, the story of both men is like "the Emperor's new clothes". They walk naked through society and our leaders smile and don't tell them the truth.

Why don't makers of Dicken's drama care about anachromisms?

Harvey Sanders, Finchley Road, Hampstead, writes:

The photograph last week of "snow-covered" Church Row might not have been a sign of the global climate emergency but it does demonstrate how some film producers seem to think that their audiences are unconcerned about anachronistic images in period dramas.

At first sight we have the absurdity of the depiction of a London scene, even one purporting to be from the 19th century, which shows snow drifting while all the deciduous trees in view are in full leaf!

Or will computer generated graphic imagery come to the rescue as the 21st century equivalent of Agent Orange to ensure that these trees are appropriately defoliated during the editing process?

Concrete dust in Bishops Avenue had me in a state

Philip Smith, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

Yesterday morning, I cycled up The Bishops Avenue, from the A1 to Hampstead Lane, near Kenwood House.

There's always building work going on in the opulent monuments to bad taste, which are most of the houses along The Bishops Avenue. In consequence, the road surface gets turbated regularly and in different places, as the focus of construction activity changes.

Uphill, or down, The Bishops Avenue is seldom a comfortable place to ride. However, it's a handy cut-through, and wind-down from exercise, for anyone heading from Finchley to Highgate, or Hampstead.

I had a nasty experience on The Bishops Avenue yesterday. The involvement of another vehicle was only indirect.

I noticed blue-white streaks in the road. I ignored them. Then a wagon passed me. The white streaks proved mobile. They took to the air, in the draft made by the passing vehicle.

I was amid a cloud of cement dust.

I tried to hold my breath and pass through what I took to be a very temporary problem, which I expected to subside with every succeeding turn of the pedal. Eventually, the air cleared.

Then there was another white patch. Then a car passed me, another cloud. Then another patch, another lorry - another cloud.

It was thus for at least 300 yards, until I came level with a building site, on the right. It had cement outside its entrance. The dust was mobile, again, but this time it was being mobilised by water. A high vizzed workman was hosing the road. There were no more white patches in the road, after I passed the site.

I had been forced to breathe, as I'd ascended the hill. Who knows how much nasty cement dust had got past my nose and mouth, and into my inner machinery? I felt coated with the stuff and I had a peculiar taste in my mouth.

Cement absorbs water and then sets. I thought of small pebbles forming inside me. Then I turned left towards Highgate. I dropped down Highgate West Hill, intending to tackle Swain's Lane.

Near the bottom of a fast descent of West Hill, I found myself coughing, involuntarily. I almost lost control of the bike. I was zigzagging. It was close! I pulled over, next to St Anne's Church, coughing and retching.

There was bio-debris everywhere; on my handlebar, on my crossbar bag, on my shorts. I was a wreck, but things could have been much worse!

I freewheeled down the short remaining incline, to the junction with Swain's Lane. I rounded the corner and parked. I took stock. I cleaned things. I cleaned myself. I spat.

Bloody cement! Bloody crap building site management, but what could I do? I can't prove the whole of an intermittent cement trail came from that particular site.

I pulled it together. I went up Swain's Lane. I went home.

So, why am I sitting writing this down as a story of interest to others?

I woke this morning to the taste of cement dust. The noxious powder did get inside me!

I start my day thinking about small pebbles forming inside me!

And I'll be avoiding The Bloody Bishop's Avenue from now on!

-Editor's note: Couldn't agree more. This road has one of the worst surfaces I've ever cycled on, and that's without mentioning the construction traffic...

New restaurant plan won't save Belsize Village

A Hampstead resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

I am sorry to say that the lady who hopes the opening of another new restaurant in Belsize Village will kickstart the area, which she says has become a sad place since XO closed in 2017, is bound to be disappointed.

It had become a sad place already when first the newsagent then the Village Deli closed a few years earlier. Both shops had been in the Village for more than 25 years and both helped give the Village its special character.

There also used to be a pub, a post office and a barber's shop. Now the only remaining shop with any character is the greengrocer's. How long before they become another estate agent, art gallery or part of the vet?

The area is so similar to hundreds of other parts of London that it no longer deserves to be called a village.

Perhaps the lady who was so pleased to be part of the opposition to a new Co-op shop will realise her mistake, because that was probably the last chance of rejuvenating the old Belsize Village.

Please stop bringing dogs to the Ladies' Pond

An Islington resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

Please could inconsiderate dog owners obey the rules and stop bringing their dogs to the Ladies Pond?

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There are good hygiene and health and safety reasons why dogs are not allowed at the pond.

Also many people are scared of dogs and some cultures regard dogs as unclean.

Above all, it only takes one barking dog to completely shatter the peace and calm of this special place, ruining it for all the other users, often for hours on end.

Our wonderful lifeguards are often called away from their essential duties to track down yet another dog owner who has tied up their poor animal and left it - without water, in the hot sun and in considerable distress - to bark its head off while they disappear for a swim, often for several hours. No genuine dog lover would do this to their pet.

No one has to bring their dog to the pond in order to swim (unless they need a support dog). It is purely a convenience for the owner, to the detriment of everyone else. Point this out and you are likely to be met with "my dog doesn't bark", "I've got special permission" or simply a volley of abuse.

Please, if you really love your dog - and this beautiful oasis that is the Ladies' Pond - leave your dog at home!

Rudd's talk of work is hollow

Revd Paul Nicolson, Taxpayers Against Poverty, Tottenham, writes an open letter to Amber Rudd MP, secretary of state for Work and Pensions:

In Tweets, on Facebook and in costly advertisements you continue to pump out the empty mantra: "Only by being in work can women, of all ages, truly enjoy full economic independence. We've made huge strides over the past decade to get record numbers of women into work."

But pay is too low and housing too costly. What good is work that leaves women hungry and homeless?

There are brutal abuses of power taking the land from companies established under the arches of the UK railways - and wherever else the powerful are seizing the affordable land used for work by enterprising individuals.

Land is also torn by the wealthy from under the homes of council tenants, and from leaseholders and freeholders by compulsory purchase orders in what is called regeneration.

Land is a gift of nature intended for work and homes for all.

Your government is allowing the value of land to exceed the capacity of low-to-middle incomes to afford a home and of small businesses to pay the rent.

You then boast you have forced more and more families and individuals into work - with pay so low, while their rents are so high, that it all leads to the misery of rent arrears and eviction.

What I can - and can't - do about the environment

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

I was interested to read a reply from a constituent to my letter on electric vehicle charging points in last week's paper.

Mr Rutherford's response asks me to "direct or incentivise councils to put two charging points at the base of every street lamp".

It is important to clarify here that, as a London Assembly Member, I do not have the powers to do either of these things.

However, I am supportive of City Hall's Electric Vehicle Taskforce which has been set up to encourage councils, government and relevant partners to boost the number of charging points across London.

In his letter, Mr Rutherford also raises the question of why the worst polluting vehicles have not yet been "summarily banned".

Unfortunately, the mayor of London only has limited powers in this area, but he has taken action to clean up the capital's taxi and bus fleets.

The implementation of a more comprehensive vehicle ban would instead lie in the hands of our currently inert government, side-tracked by Brexit turmoil.

The mayor has recommended a ban on the sale of diesel and petrol cars from 2030 onwards, but it looks unlikely that the government is planning to adopt this policy.

He has also introduced the ULEZ in central London, which will be expanded in 2021 to the North and South Circulars.

It is already having a positive effect, with the first month of its rollout seeing almost three-quarters of the vehicles driving into the zone compliant with new emissions standards.

Barnet's libraries debate is historic

Keith Martin, Friern Park, Friern Barnet, writes:

On Thursday, June 11, at Hendon Town Hall, history will be made. At a meeting of Barnet Council's Community Leadership and Libraries committee, a recommendation that the committee approve proposed principles of the evaluation of a New Library Services Model will be debated at long last.

The choice is indeed a matter of principle; the principle of the public interest in protecting public libraries from falling below the standard of providing a comprehensive and efficient public library service, as required by the 1964 Act.

Never before has Barnet Council entertained the possibility that it has not the absolute right to overrule Acts of Parliament. This is a first step forward, on a par with man's first steps on the moon. It requires the support of the nation's media in defence of the public interest. It requires newspapers such as the Ham&High to make the story front page news and to report the debate. June 11 will be remembered in the same way as the Battle of Agincourt.

Abacus proposal should be refused

A Hampstead resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

It is interesting that Linda Grove defends Abacus Free School's travel plan claiming that the head will reprimand parents if they drive to school (Letters, May 30).

The school's travel plan document shows that there were only 20 children in reception this year (in stark contrast to their claims of oversubscription) - but in order to comply with the Council Local Plan, they will have to show that all of their families will walk to school.

Given that many of these will have at least one child under five and will live some distance away as the proposed site is not in the school catchment area, this seems highly unlikely.

The Camden Plan 2017 states that "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).

Abacus Free School claims on its website that "with some room to spare, we will be able to create new, affordable community facilities in the north wing and share these with local people" - see the page at isupportabacus.org/benefits.

This is completely absent from its new proposal, which instead includes plans for business space, which will bring it an income rather than serve the community.

It will be a travesty of local planning rules and make a mockery of the council's own local plan if councillors permit this development.

Good to see Tory cllrs called out

Hamish Hunter, Nassington Road, Hampstead, writes:

I was delighted to see the letter in last week's paper calling out the Hampstead Town councillors for dishonestly claiming credit for the reopening of the Magdala pub.

I recall that local Tory member Fiona Lafferty previously wrote to this paper claiming that the new licensing application for Hampstead's Magdala pub "goes to show" how the local councillors Maria Higson, Stephen Stark, and Oliver Cooper really can "make a difference".

Despite my asking what she was saying they had done, we never got an answer.

Hampstead residents are far too switched on and intelligent to be fooled by silly stunts from charlatans.

I suspect voters may remember this when Oliver Cooper and Maria Higson come up for election next time.

Although, given the Tories came sixth in Hampstead and across Camden in last month's elections, this will probably be the least of their worries.

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