Public funding, lonely Christmas, shopworkers, Millfield Lane, TfL

Highgate School sits in the heart of Highgate Village. Picture: Highgate School

Highgate School has published an 85-page document on its next refurbishment - Credit: Highgate School

Offset these publicly funded costs

ST Fielder, Hornsey Lane, writes:

What a shame Highgate School last week declined to donate £5,000 to Haringey Food Banks as a goodwill gesture for running up council resources and costs devoted to a consultation and 85-page document about the school’s next refurbishment.

The School - which declares a net annual profit of over £2 million - doubtless runs philanthropic projects, but these are no offset for using up council money and efforts at this time. 

And now it has refused to give £5,000 to food banks in exchange for these publicly-funded costs? Thanks a bunch, Ebeneezer!

But will the school’s refurbishment of buildings even go ahead? Not if the Health and Safety Executive, nor the Department of Education, take a dim view of the school’s alleged year-long allowing of Bishopswood Rd construction sites metres away from Pre-Prep children aged 3-7, the School Health Centre, and temporary classrooms, it won’t. 

Watch this space.

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Many isolated folk

Linda Grove, Belsize Park, Hampstead, writes:

My mum Kathy Gash is 96 and living independently in a village in Somerset. I’m sad to say, like many families, she cannot come to our home to join us for Christmas Day due to the pandemic . I am her only child, I’m here in Belsize with my husband Malcolm while our daughter Rachael, in the photograph, lives in Hong Kong with her family .

My Mum is tough, or so she says, but I can’t help that feel regret and worry about her over the holiday period. We will be calling frequently on Christmas Day as we do every day.

Like my mum, there will be many isolated folk at Christmas, it can be a miserable time for many, so I would like to suggest that we all look outside our own front doors in our neighbourhoods, and take the time to visit someone and chat through the window. 

It will sure help a lot of folk, they don’t have to be old, it could be a family likes ours where their families live and work abroad.


Paddy Lillis, general secretary, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw), writes:

The run-up to Christmas is always a really busy time for retail workers, shoppers can be stressed and things can boil over. This year is likely to be even more stressful as a result of recent lockdowns and worries around coronavirus.

I want to gently remind your readers to remember that shopworkers are people as well. They will be working really hard to make your shopping experience as enjoyable as possible.
Talking to our members who work in retail, I know that verbal abuse cuts deep. Many will go home after a shift upset about an unpleasant incident that took place at work that day and worried that it will happen to them again.

During this appalling pandemic we have been shocked to find that incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers have doubled. The main flashpoints are enforcing Covid rules, queueing and shortage of stock. None of these are the fault of shopworkers, but too often they end up on the wrong side of customers’ frustrations.

That is why Usdaw, the shopworkers’ trade union, is asking customers to “Keep your Cool” at Christmas.

I would also like to ask your readers to support our members by signing the petition to protect shopworkers.

Millfield Lane

David M M Dutton, Merton Lane, Camden, wrote to Camden Traffic Management: 

You have asked for my comments on introducing the one way only control at the bottom corner of Millfield Lane, N6. I have waited until now, some six months, to include both the summer period and the quieter winter period, before commenting.

In summary, I think it was a very poor call on the part of the council’s traffic engineers. The consequences have been significant in their impact on Merton Lane, which now is the only conduit out of Merton Lane/West Hill Park/Millfield Lane (north of the no-entry area) and some elements of Fitzroy Park, though those residents have the opportunity to depart through the gate of Fitzroy Park at the top into the Grove, a much less convenient route to follow, particularly if they are heading south. 

There is now regularly significant congestion on Merton Lane, as with the parking bays (when occupied - generally so through the day), it is an inadequate width for a two-lane thoroughfare, particularly in today’s age with the wider SUV’s, and the significantly increased delivery van visits with the change in shopping habits. 

There are now very regularly major, sometimes unpleasant confrontations, as car drivers debate from their seats who is to reverse involving up to 10 vehicles and taking significant engine idling time to clear Additionally, the single, only one side, pavement is only just wide enough to enable people passing with appropriate social distancing, and there is the necessary pedestrian crossover point at the Westhill Estate entrance from southside to northside, sometimes occurring in the middle of the aforementioned traffic confrontations. 

Moreover there are these days noticeably more pedestrians walking up and down Merton Lane, and socially distanced passing in the lower pavement section is impossible necessitating stepping into the carriageway, more difficult and dangerous with the increased traffic. 

As a resident on Merton Lane, I am suffering regular, certainly more than daily increased noise, sometimes verbal shouting, often difficulty in leaving my own home for necessary car journeys, and the economic and environmental impacts of traffic congestion are well publicised - your scheme has definitely increased not reduced these. 

These problems have all continued to occur through the normally quieter winter period. With the previous traffic arrangement there was an “overflow” possibility through Millfield Lane, and particularly for those on Millfield Lane and in Fitzroy Park wishing to head south, it was the natural route south on Millfield Lane joining Highgate West Hill and its lower point to that of Merton Lane; the consequences of that “overflow” being removed are unacceptable.

I think this traffic change was a very bad call, with no properly thought through analysis of the deleterious impact on the local community nor the negative impact on Camden/our society’s Green aspirations. 

Boundary charges?

Dr Alison Moore , Londonwide Assembly member, writes:

The pandemic continues to cripple Transport for London’s main source of income, which comes from passenger fares.

Despite this, the government has so far refused to provide TfL with the sustainable and long-term funding deal it needs to keep services running smoothly and to secure the future of key infrastructure projects - which are crucial for job creation and supporting London’s economic recovery.

This has meant that City Hall and TfL have been forced to find other ways of making up the financial deficit they face in future years.

One of the fairest solutions would be for ministers to allow London to keep hold of the money it collects through Vehicle Excise Duty. This is worth around £500 million per year, and is currently spent to subsidise road maintenance in other parts of the country.

If the Department for Transport will not come to the table to discuss this, the mayor has signalled that he might need to explore the option of a new boundary charge in future years.

This would mean that motorists outside of the capital, would need to pay a £3.50 charge to drive into Greater London.

The ball is now in the government’s court.

Reach Out

A man dressed as Father Christmas practices making virtual calls to children at the launch of Santa

Reach out to family and friends virtually to show that they are in your thoughts - Credit: PA Images

Emma Tingley, London Strategic Partnerships manager, Macmillan Cancer Support, writes:

Christmas is a time for making people feel special. It’s an opportunity to think about what’s important; in a year when being in each other’s company has been so difficult, isn’t time together the greatest gift of all?

We’ve all had to adapt this year, as the global pandemic has taken its toll, creating adversity, generating fear and isolation. Forcing us to alter our natural instincts to come together, alter our behaviour and live with an invisible enemy. For those of us living with cancer this has brought further anxiety and trepidation to an already challenging present and uncertain future.

Which is why Macmillan Cancer Support are urging Londoners to find new, innovative ways to #ReachOut to family, friends, neighbours and the community this Christmas, while adhering to government guidelines and restrictions.

Whether it’s sending a card, a video call, or inviting them to join a virtual event like celeb-packed Macmillan Carol Concert Follow The Stars, you can still show people you are there for them. Now more than ever, we need to find new ways to show those around us they matter.

This Christmas Macmillan Cancer Support wants you to take a step back and focus on what’s special to all of us, something that comes more naturally at Christmas than at any other time of year. #ReachOut to family, friends, neighbours and the community, show them that they matter and they’re on your mind.

Cancer doesn’t stop at Christmas and neither does Macmillan Cancer Support. We have 1,500 Macmillan badged professionals in London helping support the 210,000 people are living with cancer in the capital.

The Macmillan Support Line can help with clinical, practical and financial information for all those affected by and living with cancer. Please call us on 0808 808 00 00 (seven days a week, 8am-8pm).

Without your donations we simply cannot support the growing number of people who need us no matter what time of year it is.

Donate today to help us this Christmas visit our online shop buy a Christmas card and remind someone they’re in your thoughts.