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Ham&High letters: Pond 1 cygnets, remembering Gerry Isaaman, Lime bikes and 100 Avenue Road

PUBLISHED: 16:30 09 May 2019

Just one of the amazing photographs Louisa took of the cygnets on Pond No 1, Hampstead Heath. Picture: LOUISA GREEN

Just one of the amazing photographs Louisa took of the cygnets on Pond No 1, Hampstead Heath. Picture: LOUISA GREEN

Louisa Green

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

Egg-Squisite cygnet shots

Louisa Green, full address supplied, writes:

I have been avidly following the story of the cygnets on Pond No 1 this spring.

I am a very keen photographer and and have been photographing this family every single day for the past eight weeks, from nest building through to laying, hatching and now the beautiful little cygnets.

Last week alone I took over 1,800 photos and spent every morning before work, every lunch break and each evening watching the little fluff balls!

I have shared my photos with quite a few people on the Heath, including Ron (and I know you featured him last week!), and most have enthusiastically encouraged me to submit some to you.

I have attached a selection and would be so so honoured if you could feature one or some in the next edition.

Editorial note: Louisa, the pleasure is all ours! Thanks for the pictures.

Friends pay tribute to Gerry Isaaman - known to all as 'Mr Hampstead'

Martin Humphery, vice president, The Heath & Hampstead Society, writes:

The death of Gerry Isaaman reported May 1 brings to a close a very distinguished journalistic career as well as a lifetime of devoted service to Hampstead and its people.

Gerry was a long-time patron of The Heath & Hampstead Society and was always ready to lend his support to its objectives of preserving the Heath and the built environment of Hampstead as well as telling us in no uncertain terms where we were going wrong.

He has been justly called "Mr Hampstead" reflecting his huge knowledge of its history, inhabitants and causes. He constantly amazed me by his instant recall of personalities and past events, as well as a drive to improve the future of Hampstead.

Gerry managed to combine warmth and joviality with a rigorous determination to unearth the truth and chase down the story. How I would have loved to see him in action at a Trump press conference!

Gerry's lasting memorial must be the creation of a local newspaper like no other. Under his leadership the Ham & High became respected far beyond its own patch. We all relied on it for insightful coverage of the arts and all manner of cultural topics as well as faultless coverage of local news. He managed to gather around the editorial table a number of brilliant local contributors who helped him to make the weekly paper indispensable to all lovers of Hampstead.

After he had left the editor's chair and moved away from London, his interest never flagged. Only very recently he was chasing us up to push on with his project to restore Constable's tomb.

How fortunate we have been to have been his friends and colleagues in the cause of Hampstead.

'Fine journalist and finer man'

Barry Peskin, Wedmore Street, Islington, writes:

Janet and I were saddened by the recent loss of our good friend Gerry Isaaman.

He was a fine journalist and an even finer man.

Under his stewardship the Ham & High became a supporter and champion of many local social justice issues amongst which was the one we were most closely involved in, the building by Camden Council of social and affordable housing on the otherwise exclusive Branch Hill Estate.

The extensive and local campaign that brought this about appealed to Gerry's sense of fairness and equality.

The Ham & High did much to help in its success.

He will be missed for this and much else.

Former reviewer's tribute to Gerry

Bill Rodgers, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, writes:

You may also want to watch:

Gerry [Isaaman] was an institution and a treasure.

For many years, I was delighted to respond to an invitation from him to write a review to the Ham & High pages.

Gerry was a member of the Garrick Club and he was more than an equal to the journalist stars of Fleet Street and Westminster.

He was a special person.

'Admired' for his proud service

Cllr Roger Robinson, St Pancras and Somers Town ward, Camden Council member since 1964, writes:

It was with great and deep sadness that I heard that Gerry Isaaman, who served with great pride and knowledge for 26 years as editor of the Ham & High, had passed away at the age of 85.

I knew him and so admired him for his production of brilliant news and his knowledge of the Camden community; the progress so well of the Ham & High over those years; his warm approach to all those involved in the community and its achievements; his fights to save the community and its historic and artistic being such as his fight to save Burgh House and his caring for the world and for especially the community of Camden.

When he spoke you felt a warm caring and he did care deeply for all who sought to work hard for the community and the borough of Camden born in 1964 when I was a young newly elected councillor.

He had a joviality and a great sense of humour and he will be greatly missed.

May he rest in peace with our admiration and affection.

Cyclists need to be responsible

Harvey Sanders, Finchley Road, Hampstead, writes:

Encouraging people to cycle is clearly important.

However, can something be done about the random littering of our pedestrian footpaths by the new Lime bikes before it gets out of hand and there is even less space for people to walk safely and conveniently?

Punish bosses not ill-informed driver

David Reed, Eton Avenue, Hampstead, writes:

Sorry to clog up your letter pages again, I didn't think it was possible for me to get more disgusted by the over-development disaster unfolding at Swiss Cottage, but apparently I can!

A quick recap: a modest office building at 100 Avenue Road, on the north eastern side of the gyratory system here, is being demolished to be replaced by concrete blocks with 185 mainly private, high-rent flats in a 24-storey tower. This will have two concrete side blocks of five and seven storeys running the length of the little local park, pushing it into shadow from mid-afternoon, even in summer.

The site is too small for this monstrous set of buildings, so the developers, in conjunction with Camden Council and Transport for London, have devised a Construction Management Plan (CMP) of incredible and dangerous stupidity, instead of the blindingly obvious, less invasive and safer route of allowing direct access using just one of the six lanes of Avenue Road which run the length of the whole site!

This CMP involves routing massive trucks across all the main pedestrian routes through the area, into the Market Square - even when the Farmers' Market fills all the space - and then down beside the Mora Burnet House full of house-bound older people, and out down Winchester Road, the narrowest and already highly congested local street.

And even that isn't enough for the developer, they are demanding the use of a large chunk of the local park, removing a trio of the cherry trees in the centre of the row through the park.

This is so they can create enough space to turn their trucks around, despite the fact that this will bring the noise and pollution into the heart of the park, within two metres of the children's playground and exercise area!

Will Camden Parks officials allow this, and why?

Already, just a few months into the four-year demolition and building programme, there have been numerous infringements of the CMP which, again, you have reported. But it is now getting nastier.

Last week I reported yet another demolition truck illegally using the whole length of Eton Avenue to enter the site.

This is the response I got from a a planning enforcement officer for Supporting Communities, London Borough of Camden': "The subcontractor has responded and advised that the driver in question has received a written warning. He has also lost the incentive bonus that their drivers receive for specific criteria; not receiving blameworthy complaints forms part of this."

I hope any decent person would be disgusted to hear that it is the driver who gets penalised, not the developer dumping the disaster on our community, nor the Camden officers who helped them push the appalling set of buildings through the planning process, nor the Transport for London officials whose stubbornness has forced the developer to route all the trucks through our neighbourhood.

Expecting a probably badly instructed driver to negotiate his way through unfamiliar local streets with confusing names is stupid - even Transport for London produced maps labelling Eton Avenue as Eton Road when consulting about their plans for a cycle route on Avenue Road, and they are supposed to be experts - but let's not raise that mess again!

I have asked Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London who has a role in the management of TfL, to intervene and now await this response, in the hope that, as the son of a bus driver, he might be similarly appalled that the driver is the one who suffers. Will he do anything?

And I have to ask, as a Labour supporter, are our councillors happy that this whole situation, from beginning to bitter end has happened entirely on their watch?

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