Ham&High letters: Lido, Hampstead Heath, loneliness, anti-Semitism, fair water, violent crime and parking

Joggers on Hampstead Heaths. PICTURE: YUI MOK/PA IMAGES

Joggers on Hampstead Heaths. PICTURE: YUI MOK/PA IMAGES - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

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

Overjoyed by Park Road Lido re-opening

Susan Bennett, St Regis Close, Muswell Hill, writes:

I am one of the enthusiastic inveterate outdoor swimmers at Park Road Lido .

When it closed, as you reported (Opinion, March 29, 2018) due to a huge crack, alarm bells rang.

The regulars circulated all sorts of rumours and doubts about future re-opening.

So, your report that Haringey have confirmed commencement of works with the aim to open in May is very cheering.

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Many of us who love swimming and find it a great benefit to our physical, mental and emotional well being find the indoor pool too hot, too congested and too crowded to enjoy a carefree swim.

We enjoy the open sky, the feel of fresh air, the sun or often wind and rain on our bodies .

So much so, I was moved to write in praise of the Lido:


Topaz, emerald, glinting diamond flashes,

Beneath the sky,

Beckoning, enchanting the eye, tantalising, seductive, cold.

The water calls. Dig deep,

Not for money, it takes inner resources to reap this reward.

No point in fingering the contents of the casket...Leap in! SWIM! Not with the dolphins.

Grow your own fins. Feel the endorphins.

You have left the heavy air.

Water, once your native element , embraces you,

Buoyant and cool... aaaah...

Park Road Pool! “

Thank you , to the stalwart life guards who have looked after us no matter what the weather, often in difficult circumstances. It is much appreciated. Without them we would be lost!

We look forward to seeing them all again soon.

Manifesto for tackling loneliness

Mary Burd, Chair, Board of Trustees, Age UK Camden

Age UK Camden welcomes Maria Higson’s concerns around loneliness (Ham&High, “Loneliness in Camden”).

We support commitments by any and all political parties to tackling loneliness of older people, and picking up ideas on good practice from other areas is always helpful.

In fact Age UK Camden, backed by Age UK London, has sent a manifesto to the four main parties contesting the elections – Lab, Conservative, Lib Dem, Green – called Making London Boroughs Age Friendly.

By way of context, it should also be acknowledged that Camden has a good record of good services to older people, and Age UK Camden has strong partnership working with the borough which includes service delivery on information and advice and day care.

The partnership also includes Ageing Better in Camden – the Big Lottery funded programme over six years aimed at reducing isolation and gathering better evidence of which “interventions” work best.

Camden also faces the challenges of public funding cuts, and increasing demographic pressure including numbers of older people. Key themes of the manifesto are to continue to protect the most vulnerable, recognise the contribution of older people, and make Camden/London age friendly. There is still much to do.

Older people contribute massively to our borough as paid workers, volunteers, carers, grandparents, community activists and in other ways.

At the same time, many older people experience poverty and inequality.

Many older people with long term support needs, and their families, are in serious difficulty because of the funding pressures on adult social care.

The Manifesto can be viewed on our website, and those not online can receive a copy by phoning 020 7239 0400.

Stop denying anti-Semitism

Jonathan Glass, Woodland Terrace, East Finchley, writes:

Last week’s edition of the Ham & High featured a letter entitled ‘Antisemitic scene not recognised’ from members of Haringey Labour Party dismissing these accusations. They sought to assure readers that ‘Haringey Labour Party is not one of those places’ where antisemitism is a problem.

When looking at the letter’s signatures, I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

All of those listed would, until Jeremy Corbyn rose to the leadership, have been described as sitting on the far left fringes of the Labour Party.

The signatories included those who have been reported to the Labour Party for making comments that: defend the use of the phrases “zios” and “yids” (Haringey Labour are still putting him forward as a candidate in the local elections next month); state that Jews were the Chief Financiers of the slave trade; they found Yad Vashem (Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust) “offensive”; claim that Hamas and Hezbollah are not antisemitic.

Some of these activists also protested Haringey Council passing a motion against antisemitism. They have also campaigned against the suspension of Ken Livingstone.

The lack of action locally to kick out members for making antisemitic comments and Catherine West’s continual refusal to acknowledge the problem within the ranks of her activists, is why my family stood for two hours in the rain on Sunday outside the Labour Party’s HQ to protest.

In this context, it is clear that anyone who finds racism abhorrent, should not vote in Haringey for the Labour Party in the upcoming local elections.

A clear message given at the polls might, finally, lead to action being taken.

Compensation for no water is fair

Stephen Gardiner, Ridge Road, Crouch End writes:

Maybe I was too unkind to Thames Water (Letters, Ham & High March 15) when I suggested they had no money left to compensate people for a week with dry taps after the big thaw in February.

With my tongue firmly in my cheek, I surmised that they couldn’t afford compensation because of the big pay rises given to top executives over the last few years.

Today I received a letter from the water company saying that they will send me a cheque for £50 to “make things right”.

That is nearly 10 per cent of my annual water rate bill and a lot more than the compensation I had suggested in my letter.

They are also paying £2,500 to schools who faced significant disruption.

Thames Water say they are applying the lessons they learnt and trying to work out how to do better in future.

Well done them. I hope they can live up to their promises.

Reducing violent crime is a priority

Kate Fairhurst, Calvin Robinson and Cllr Don Williams, Conservative council candidates for Swiss Cottage, write:

We were delighted to bring justice minister Lucy Frazer QC to Swiss Cottage last week so that she could hear from residents about their concerns on increases in violent crime and moped crime.

Frazer is the minister responsible for criminal justice and showing her local concerns first-hand means government can take real action where Camden and City Hall have failed.

Locally, there is a lot that Camden must do. Conservative councillors have been fighting to put more police on the beat using the Metropolitan Police’s ‘buy one get one free’ scheme to hire 18 extra full Metropolitan Police officers, with one additional officer allocated to each of Camden’s wards. This match-funding is available to councils, but Camden is not using it.

Swiss Cottage’s Cllr Don Williams proposed using the policy to hire more police across all of the borough in each of the last seven annual budgets.

Every Labour councillor voted against the proposal all seven times.

With the disastrous merger of Camden’s police with Islington - with the consequence that the two boroughs had the two largest increases in crime anywhere in London in the last year - it’s essential that police are made more responsive.

That’s why we back opening a new police contact point - of the sort that used to be opposite West Hampstead tube station - within Swiss Cottage Library: allowing police to patrol Swiss Cottage and Belsize Park from a more local base and allowing residents to report crime in person.

We also want to implement a plan to tackle anti-social behaviour. We often hear reports of ‘hotspots’ of this kind of behaviour and we want to work with tenants’ and residents’ associations to install CCTV in problematic areas to deter this activity.

We believe it should be easier for anti-social tenants to be moved out of council-owned properties to ensure that residents feel safe and comfortable in their own neighbourhoods.

If Camden residents want more police on our streets and a plan to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, vote to elect a strong Conservative opposition on May 3.

Party does treat anti-Semitism seriously

Simon Pearson, Labour candidate for Swiss Cottage Ward, writes:

I was deeply hurt by the anonymous letter about me (Swiss Cottage Concerns) in last week’s edition, but since reading it I have been moved by the many kind expressions of support I have received from Jewish friends and colleagues.

At the Labour Party meeting to which the anonymous writer refers there were a number of competing motions and amendments all condemning anti-Semitism, and in choosing one to support I necessarily had to vote against the others which I felt were not as strong.

The motion I voted for, which was proposed by a Holocaust survivor, and passed by the meeting, reads as follows:

“This Party stands in solidarity with every Jew who has experienced anti-Semitism and stands firm in the belief that Jewish people should never have to face anti-Semitism.”

It goes on to affirm Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to anti-Semitism and to call for the implementation of fair disciplinary procedures in the Labour Party. It concludes with the statement:

“This Party gives its backing to the recent statement by Georgia Gould, Camden Council Leader, and both Camden MPs, Keir Starmer and Tulip Siddiq, which states:

“We welcome the statement from Jeremy Corbyn condemning anti-Semitism and committing to redouble efforts to stamp it out of our movement.”

I believe this is a strong statement on anti-Semitism which is also my view and I want to communicate this to the many Jewish residents of Swiss Cottage, of whom I have spoken to hundreds on the doorstep, as I did when I stood for election four years ago.

I hope many of them will now feel reassured in voting for Labour on May 3.

Send anti-Brexit message at the local elections

Julie Gadaut, Frognal Gardens, Hampstead, writes:

This is my first vote in a UK poll since before the Brexit referendum and should it proceed as scheduled, as a European citizen, it will also be the last time I will ever be entitled to vote here.

Personally, Brexit is without doubt a May 3 issue.

I will therefore not vote for Brexit think tank director Henry Newman - a former adviser to Michael Gove - or his fellow Tories.

However, I also disagree with the chairman of Camden Labour Party’s Brexit working party - Lazzaro Pietragnoli - when he tweeted “voting Labour in any ward at the local election in Camden will deliver a (politically and tactically) stronger message against Brexit than voting for Green, LibDem or independent candidates.”

It is difficult to see why an increased Labour majority in Camden Town Hall would push Jeremy Corbyn towards a more pro-EU position or why it would cause Theresa May to alter course. Mr Pietragnoli’s comment underlines how the dominance of Conservative and Labour in Westminster stifles proper debate of the important issues we face. We have a similar situation in Camden with all but four seats being held by the dominant two parties.

I will instead vote for the independent candidates backed by Marx de Morais “The Movement” as not only will this send a clear and unequivocal anti-Brexit message to both Conservative and Labour but this will also help broaden the debate on the local matters affecting all of us living in Camden.

Time to target illegal parking near hospital

Gillian Crow, Maiden Place, Kentish Town, writes:

There is a chronic problem in Magdala Avenue with cars parking on double yellow lines outside the Whittington Hospital.

Buses struggle to manoeuvre past the cars; and I have never ever seen a parking warden in the vicinity.

The council could make a fortune nabbing these illegally parked drivers.

Why is nothing done?