Ham&High letters: Royal Free, anti-semitism, student takeover, developers, bus cuts, indie bookshops, green spaces, police, tube noise and libraries

The Royal Free Hospital. Picture: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/PA WIRE

The Royal Free Hospital. Picture: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/PA WIRE - Credit: PA WIRE

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

Project is increasing dangerous traffic

Jeff Gold, chairman, Hampstead Green Neighbourhood Group, writes:

The Royal Free Hospital commenced its new building project in Pond Street a couple of weeks ago.

It immediately closed the slip road to the former car park and ever since there has been considerably more tail backs and congestion in Pond Street as well as difficulty and danger for pedestrians at the crossing point of Royal Free Hospital and Pond Street which is made worse by the removal of a zebra crossing by the council.

Congestion is one thing and it is even worse when ambulances trying to reach the hospital are delayed but danger to pedestrians is another and this is an accident waiting to happen – there have already been near misses.

All that is needed is better marshalling of the traffic flow around the car park at the front entrance to the hospital and at the crossing point of Royal Free Hospital and Pond Street.

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Sadly both the hospital and the council have shown little urgency and the danger persists with neither demonstrating the will to eliminate it.

Does there have to be an accident for them to address the situation?

• Do you share Jeff’s view? Email letters@hamhigh.co.uk

We must all stand up to anti-semitism

Some Haringey residents, full names and addresses supplied, write:

As residents in the Hornsey & Wood Green constituency within Haringey, we are calling for solidarity with the Jewish community against the current onslaught of antisemitism in the Labour Party, both nationally and, especially, locally.

It was reported recently by the Sunday Times that two local Jewish councillors were forced out of their roles by their own Labour Party colleagues’ incessant hate campaign against them for being Jewish.

This local level of racism in 2018 should horrify us all. It is clear that anyone who finds racism abhorrent, should not vote for the Labour Party in the upcoming local elections, whether Jewish or not. It should not be left to the Jewish community to kick up a storm about what is happening – alone, our voices will not be heard and we need the whole community to stand alongside us to ensure that we feel listened to and protected.

We are asking you to refuse Labour your vote in this election, and to tell leafleters, canvassers, local candidates and our Labour MP (Catherine West), the reason why.

Will you stand with us? Or are you prepared to condone antisemitism by voting for Labour?

Takeover students prepared to graft

B J Cairns, Victoria Road, Muswell Hill, writes:

I am old,disillusioned and cynical but when I read the contribution of student Jessiara Marriott I felt a flicker of hope.

These young people are not disillusioned or cynical.They see what needs doing and they are prepared to do it. We have left them a shattered world and a divided country. I wish them luck.

Maybe they will do better than we did - they can hardly do worse!

Developers must meet condition 17

Janine Sachs, chairman, Save Swiss Cottage, writes:

100 Avenue Road developers Essential Living’s latest application – condition 17 - to discharge safety criteria regarding the combined impact to HS2 tunnels and the new development has already been recommended for approval by Camden before consideration has been given to the comments that have been sent in.

According to this Impact Assessment, its own requirements of condition 17 have not yet been met as this report does not:

1) Accommodate the proposed location of the HS2 structures and tunnels - because HS2 report that “the proposed location of the tunnels is not confirmed”.

Also HS2 incorrectly “confirm that the proposed piling remains well clear of the HS2 exclusion zone” - yet it is precisely because the southern edge of the development, which requires piling, falls well within the HS2 exclusion zone that there is an Impact Assessment at all.

2) Accommodate ground movement and associated effects arising from the construction thereof - because “the report did not consider the effects of pile downdrag.” Engineers “acknowledged that greater settlement would occur as a result of this down drag”.

3) Mitigate the effects of noise and vibration arising from the operation of HS2 railway within the tunnels, ventilation shaft and associated below and above ground structures - because according to the Impact Assessment “Site specific noise and vibration data from HS2 has not yet been provided”.

Because more information is needed from HS2 to meet the safety requirements of condition 17 this application to discharge condition 17 should be refused.

Send objections headed ‘100 Avenue Rd/HS2 Ref 2018/1098/P’ ASAP to: planning@camden.gov.uk

Bus service cuts harm vulnerable

Cllr Flick Rea (LibDem), Fortune Green ward, writes:

Don’t destroy our bus services, Mr Mayor! Our journeys matter!

If I hear the ad which says to the mayor of London “every journey matters!” just one more time, I swear I will hurl my radio across the room and smash it.

It is such a patent lie! Right across London, our local buses are being systematically reduced in service frequency. And, yes, we all know about public service cuts, but a Labour mayor shouldn’t be allowing these to impact on the most vulnerable. Buses are still the cheapest form of public transport and for the elderly, for school children, those on low incomes, parents with babies and toddlers and all those with reduced mobility, they are a lifeline.

Here in West Hampstead, where we have been denied an accessible tube station for so long, buses are the best alternative. In the autumn, without warning, the C11 (which is our vital East-West link to schools and hospitals) was cut by one and half buses an hour. This was done with no consultation as was the case with other bus routes across London. And the next list for cuts by stealth includes a new proposal to cut back on the frequency of the 328 - another vital link running through North West London.

And why have we heard no protests from Camden’s Labour Council? Lack of consultation by the Labour mayor? Or does no-one care about NW6/2? Well I and my fellow Liberal Democrats and a large number of concerned residents DO care! Please sign our petition at camdenlibdems.org.uk and show that we, at least, think every journey does matter!

We should value indie bookshops

Catherine West, MP Hornsey and Wood Green, writes:

The tide of online shopping for books has never felt so high. For years, the future of bookshop chains such as Foyles and Waterstones have been shadowed by uncertainty, whereas many assumed the downfall of most local independent bookshops was inevitable.

Trends certainly seemed to confirm this prediction, with more than 1,000 independent booksellers closing over the past 20 years. However, the ‘Amazon’ tide may have finally started to change, as last year the trend bucked as the number of independent bookshops nationally rose by one.

Public consciousness has shifted, more and more people recognise the value of local amenities and resources. Indie book sellers are leading the way by offering services and organising events that engage with these needs.

This week, there is an event in parliament to recognise the value and contribution these small businesses provide to our community, and I am immensely proud that Simon Key of the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green will be speaking about his plans to introduce an Independent Bookshop Alliance.

Independent bookshops are not just agents of trade, they, like libraries, are strongholds of literary culture, and as a community we must continue to support them.

Fight to safeguard reservoir ongoing

Cllr Lorna Russell, Cllr Richard Olszewski and Sorin Floti, Labour and Co-operative candidates for Fortune Green, write:

The Gondar Gardens Reservoir in Fortune Green is a protected open space and site of nature conservation and biodiversity.

This is why we were pleased that Camden recently rejected LifeCare Residences’ proposal to turn it into a ‘luxury retirement village’ in the biggest proposed development on the reservoir so far.

However, we are very concerned that LifeCare has now chosen to appeal Camden’s decision, causing considerable uncertainty for local residents living nearby.

As your Fortune Green Labour candidates, we stand strongly in opposition to LifeCare’s proposed development because:

• There is no affordable housing planned.

• It contravenes the council’s policy to protect open spaces, and sites of nature conservation and biodiversity.

• It is too bulky, too dense, and excessive for the site.

• The works will cause considerable noise, disturbance, and pollution.

• Visitors and workers would park in resident bays and generate additional traffic on the road.

We are urging all affected residents to submit concerns to the Planning Inspectorate to oppose the appeal and protect our green space.

Police cuts fuel increase in crime

Peter Taheri, Labour candidate for West Hampstead ward, writes:

Labour understands that you need to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.

The Conservative national government have, instead, been tough on police numbers and tough on essential services that help prevent crime.

No wonder violent crime is on the rise nationally.

The Tories cut policing budgets by £2.3 billion between 2010 and 2015. In London, the Met’s budget has been cut by at least £600 million since 2010/11. This means a loss of 2495 officers and 3621 community support officers. Since 2010, Camden has lost 32 per cent of its police force. Even between March and September 2017, the Met lost 646 officers.

The police cuts continue: the Met needs to find almost £400 million more savings by 2022.

Meanwhile, services that could help prevent crime and support the community have been gutted: over £22 million cut from youth services in London since 2011 and 30 youth centres closed, with at least 12,700 places lost for young people.

It’s no wonder that our hard-pressed but brave local police have had to face up to the new challenge of moped-related crime, as well as the more familiar challenges of break-ins and anti-social behaviour. That’s why we need to work ever harder, together, to be tough on crime and its causes.

That’s why, despite continuing local government cuts, Camden Labour have pledged £540,000 to fund more policing in Camden, on top of the £2.9 million already spent on tackling crime and anti-social behaviour. This means four more specialist street police officers, four more community presence officers and four more safer-street outreach officers, targeting hotspots in the borough. Camden Labour have also pledged £150,000 for extended hours for responsive security patrols on housing estates. As for the causes of crime, Camden Labour have pledged £400,000 to support voluntary sector work with youth offenders, to drive down re-offending.

The Tories want to keep our streets safe on the cheap. They simply can’t be trusted. Only by voting Labour on May 3 can you vote for a council that is tough on crime and its causes.

Tube noise still blighting lives

Kate Fairhurst, Swiss Cottage Conservatives, writes:

Swiss Cottage residents continue to be blighted by excessive Tube noise in their homes and it is time that TfL made this a priority.

Tony Devenish, a Conservative Greater London assembly member, questioned the Mayor of London on this issue last week at City Hall, after some of his residents received communication from TfL saying that they are ‘unable to improve the noise level’.

The mayor acknowledged that tube noise has a significant impact on residents’ lives, including sleep deprivation and their quality of life. He says that TfL haven’t given up on this issue, however this is not the experience of Swiss Cottage residents.

TfL’s responses have been slow and disappointing, including most recently that noise from Swiss Cottage tube station is not a priority for TfL. I have been working to assist residents in making representations to TfL on their behalf, but progress remains slow from TfL. I have also raised this with Assembly Member Shaun Bailey, who is lobbying TfL to take swift action on this.

Residents’ lives are being made miserable by this ongoing problem in Swiss Cottage and TfL need to act on this issue as soon as possible.

Stop restricting access to libraries

Keith Martin, Barnet Alliance For Public Services, full address supplied, writes:

It is reported (The Guardian, March 22) that the culture secretary, Matt Hancock, is considering a government inquiry after a complaint from the libraries body CILIP about Northamptonshire’s plan to close almost 60 per cent of the county’s libraries.

Richard Cornelius, leader of Barnet Council, has received a similar letter from the culture secretary that he is taking seriously a complaint by Save Barnet Libraries. He is advised that the council might be in breach of the Libraries Act 1964, which imposes on local authorities the statutory duty to provide comprehensive and efficient public library services. Barnet used to do this, but its current policy of castrating libraries may contravene the Act. The culture secretary advises him that he may authorise a public inquiry. All this must be known to the writer of the Conservative Party BARNET NEWS which informs voters: ‘Conservatives protect Barnet’s Libraries’.

The trouble is that the current policy restricts access by children to public libraries unless accompanied by an adult, which clearly is not only morally wrong but also may be in breach of the 1964 Act. This is what a public inquiry would investigate.

In the words of John McEnroe: “You cannot be serious!”