Ham&High letters: West Hampstead interchange, Whittington, Neave Brown, parking, join the debate, World cancer day and volunteer for children
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Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Gazette readers this week.
Rethink refusal to improve busy stations
Roger Fox, West Hampstead Council Candidate, Liberal Democrats, writes:
I’m very disappointed that Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) have denied much-needed funds for improving West Hampstead interchange, refusing to fund any investment in a station lift for the Jubilee Line station despite the long-expressed views of many commuters, local councillors, and the local residents’ associations.
This is despite TfL apparently having £200m to spend on station improvements across London, parts of which are going to far less busy stations.
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The West Hampstead stations are already far too busy in the mornings - with more than 10 million passengers a year and with only a single staircase to the Jubilee line - and there are clear potential safety concerns with queues spilling out of the station along a narrow bus route. This can be a nightmare for residents - especially elderly residents and those with wheelchairs.
The interchange is only going to get busier with more and more development in and around West Hampstead - as an “intensification area” in the 2016 London plan calling for hundreds of new homes - and with so many people using the overground link.
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TfL and the local Labour council aren’t sticking up for the area well enough, and this is affecting the most vulnerable of their residents, as well as the thousands who want a less stressful commute and fewer queues.
We have written again to TfL to ask them to re-think this decision and let residents know what they plan to do to improve West Hampstead Underground as soon as possible.
Whittington board must fight for NHS
Sharon Lytton, Cromwell Avenue, Highgate Village, wrote the Whittington Hospital board members:
Sadly, your Chief Executive was unable to respond to enormous community concern and anger at a public meeting about the secretive partnership deal with Ryhurst, part of Rydon, the Grenfell Tower cladding contractor.
You are happy to give Rydon great powers over invaluable NHS hospital real estate for a “development” strategy with an asset stripping sale. This is our NHS inheritance and much needed for the future of the community’s health. It cannot be justified to wrap it up in a new style PFI arrangement. The taxpayer is to subsidise Rydon out of NHS resources badly needed for patient care. But not if public opinion and outrage prevail.
You would have the public believe that yours is a contract unique in history. Like all hospitals the Whittington has been starved of funds. Government policy is forcing the sale of over £5 billion of NHS property nationally to finance hospital repairs via Strategic Estate Partnerships. Is the Whittington to be the sole exception?
You say you will not be selling our Whittington assets - yet have no other means of rewarding Rydon. And somehow, against all experience, you will be in total control over a highly complex contract not subject to public scrutiny. All this is not credible. It is not a solution for patients or taxpayers or the NHS.
Also unanswered is why Rydon’s awful ongoing record with Islington housing repairs is of no consequence. And why this company, under investigation by the police for its role in the Grenfell tragedy, is so keenly sought by you as a partner for improving hospital facilities and care.
The lack of transparency and democratic accountability over this process is not how the NHS is meant to be run. It shows a complete lack of commitment and understanding over genuinely working with local residents and patients. It means people cannot have confidence in your judgement or words. It all looks murky, incompetent, and utterly desperate. An open independent investigation of your Rydon deal is needed before NHS England finalises the contract.
If, as you insist, you want to work with the community then support the call for more publicly funded and qualified and properly paid staff, and more beds - for NHS patients only. Our NHS staff, beds and facilities should not be used for private insurance care as is happening more and more, up to 49 per cent nationally. Support the call for immediate full public funding of patient care, not taxpayers funding of marketing in the NHS with an army of hugely expensive management consultants, contract managers, lawyers, accountants and administrators taking away many £billions each year from patient services.
The public NHS has been about cooperation, compassion, dedication, and collective innovative problem solving. To be true to its values the NHS cannot be about competition, secret deals, subsidising private profits and dividends and walking away from caring for patients as the inefficient market has shown here and in the USA.
It is well known that chronic underfunding and the deliberate breaking down of the public NHS under the 2012 Health and Social Care Act have left hospitals high and dry.
“Sustainability and Transformation Plans” are driving deep and dangerous cuts throughout the NHS including around £900 million’s worth of cuts in North Central London NHS covering Camden, Islington, Haringey, Enfield and Barnet. STPs have been largely discredited by well regarded doctors and professors as unworkable and highly detrimental to patient care. Now Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs) which are American commercial insurance based systems, are the new demolition tool of those in charge of what is left of the public NHS. Judicial Reviews are being launched to challenge Jeremy Hunt’s (Secretary of State for Health and Social Care) and Simon Stevens’ (Head of the NHS) right to impose ACOs on the NHS.
Will the Whittington Board support a return to an NHS for the people, by the people, of the people? Or support the usurpers of the NHS name, who in their anti modern thinking are taking us backwards to dark times of poor or no healthcare care for the majority?
It would be good if you were to get together with the rest of the hospitals in the country suffering strangulation and speak truth to power. Local and national communities would back you. Otherwise we will soon have no NHS to speak of, and boards like yourselves will have only been enabling administrative pawns in the abolition of the country’s greatest modern institution.
Your community is helping to lead the way for a restoration of the best value for money and most equitable healthcare system in the world. The one with a unique caring professional ethos and practice. The true fully public NHS. Please join in.
We must honour our Neave Brown
Marx de Morias, Yorkshire Grey Place, Hampstead, writes:
We should honour the memory of modernist architecture and modern living in Camden and save the heritage of Neave Brown.
For a bright future of council houses and modern living, we need to remember and protect the legacy of Neave Brown, the pioneering master of modernist housing.
It was with sincere grief that we responded to the news of the death of Neave Brown this week. He’s one of the people who changed the face of our borough, bringing to life a more modern Camden in which many of us now enjoy living and working.
The American-born architect is responsible for some of the greatest council estates in our nation. The specialist in mondernist housing is also the only architect who has had all his UK work listed. Far too long forgotten, it was very recently the public recognised him again. Last October he won the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
In Gospel Oak he was much more than that though, he was an important part of our community. He lived alongside one of his first projects, the Dunboyne Estates on Fleet Road, which is one of the greatest examples of modernist housing.
This estate, where a strong sense of community still exists, was a modern version of the much loved Victorian homes that once stood everywhere here. While the intimacy of those houses was retained, the homes and grounds around them were enhanced with the openness of modernity.
Wonderful terraces and small gardens invited the residents to meet and to interact with each other. They also offered privacy, if that was what you wanted. On his estate one could live “in the countryside”, while standing in the middle of the city.
We in Camden should be inspired by Neave’s work, seeing it as a challenge to be courageous again in the sort of architecture we commission for our estates and other groundbreaking new buildings.
We call on the council to take action to ensure that Neave Brown’s heritage in Camden is protected, so that we all remember the possibilities that architecture can offer - helping us to shape our communities and to build a better life for local people.
We would like Camden to work with the community to find a way of honouring his legacy and inspiring future generations:
• Rename the area in front of Dunboyne Estate, towards Fleet Rd, Neave Brown Place.
• Install a memorial plaque here, or a bronze of his famous Estates.
• Ensure that Neave Brown’s home on the Dunboyne Estate is protected.
• Set up a gallery run by volunteers to remind people of Neave Brown and his work.
• Set up a Neave Brown scholarship to enable young people who are studying architecture to live here and be inspired, while they undertake their studies.
We send our condolences to Neave Brown’s family and friends.
Please visit: gospel-ok.uk and sign the petition.
Parking scheme needs a rethink
Keith Martin, Friern Park, Finchley, writes:
Barnet Council’s environment committee surpassed itself for idiocy this week.
Under discussion was whether or not to renew a Parking Enforcement contract, currently held by the outsourcer NSL.
A supposedly independent report recommended renewal. It based this recommendation on an unsubstantiated assumption that it was generally recognised that outsourcing was more efficient than the in-house option. A dubious assumption, given the undeniable fact that over half the appeals against parking fines are successful. Why so? Because NSL employees issuing parking fine notices are monumentally inefficient!
A Labour proposal that the report be rewritten was defeated on the chair’s casting vote.
A second issue was not even mentioned; to my mind an essential element of the borough’s mistaken parking policy. The council’s aversion to receiving payment of parking fees in cash, which is the norm in The Spires and other non-council car parks. Parking meters brazenly state in the biggest print CASH NOT ACCEPTED.
One hopes that it will receive an appropriate reply in the council elections on May 3: VOTES NOT RECEIVED.
End hypocrisy and join debate
Jacob Lyons, via email, writes:
On 4 June 2017 the Prime Minister stood on the steps of Downing Street after the London Bridge terror attack and said: “While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is, to be frank, far too much tolerance of extremism in our country… so we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out.
That will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations.”
A few days later demonstrators were parading in Central London waving Hezbollah flags above their heads.
For readers that don’t know the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah has been responsible for terror attacks across the globe for more than 30 years and it calls for an Islamist revolution across the world.
Most recently the US Drug Enforcement Agency discovered that Hezbollah was behind an international drug trafficking ring.
If like me readers want to end the hypocrisy, the double talk and the procrastination of the government please contact our local MP and ask that they attend the debate in the House of Commons on 25 January calling on the government to ban Hezbollah.
You can participate in this campaign at israelbritain.org.uk/IBA
Fundraise to mark World Cancer Day
Charlie Straker, CLIC Sargent Fundraising and Engagement Manager for North London, writes:
Readers may not be aware but World Cancer Day is fast approaching on February 4, which is a great time to raise funds and vital awareness in the fight for young lives against cancer.
CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, are calling on locals to ‘band together’ behind families affected by cancer by donating just £2 to get your own their special Band Against Cancer wristband (available in three different collectable colours).
Cancer can leave a lot of friends, family, colleagues, not knowing what to say, or do, and feeling helpless. Donating and getting your band is a simple way to show your support for CLIC Sargent and anyone you know who might be going through a really tough time.
Our recent Hidden Costs research showed that 79 per cent of young people felt cancer had a serious impact on their emotional wellbeing, 70pc experienced depression during their cancer treatment and 83pc of young people experienced loneliness during their cancer treatment.
By helping us to raise vital funds and awareness you will be ‘banding together’ behind children, young people and their families when their lives are turned upside down. With your help, CLIC Sargent can reach those families through our support workers and nurses who provide practical, emotional and financial support, to help minimise the damage cancer causes to young people beyond their health.
To find out more about World Cancer Day and to get your own Band Against Cancer wristband go to: clicsargent.org.uk/WorldCancerDay also available in JD Wetherspoon pubs and Morrisons stores from January 10.
Volunteer and help vulnerable children this year
Marina Paraskevaidi, volunteering adviser, Barnardo’s London, writes:
We would like to urge your readers to make a New Year’s resolution to become part of a team that helps support vulnerable children in London.
As the UK’s leading children’s charity, we’re looking for people to volunteer in our 36 London shops and to help us raise money to support our local projects working with disadvantaged children, young people and their families.