Ham&High letters: Youth services, independent traders, traffic island removal, Fairseat’s gardens, CS11, Brexit, parking meter scam and pesticide ban

A recent Ham&High story talked of a rise in crime in the west of Haringey, with children mugged by o

A recent Ham&High story talked of a rise in crime in the west of Haringey, with children mugged by older teens at bus stops. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

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

Fight to save youth services

Cllr Mark Blake, cabinet member for communities, safety and engagement, Haringey Council, writes:

Last week, I was pleased that as a cabinet we approved a budget that not only protects services for Haringey’s young people but invests in them.

For too long young people in this country have felt alienated and unfairly punished by central government austerity – with youth centres closing, and services shrinking, as councils doggedly try to make ends meet.

An article in the Ham&High, “Rise in burglaries and muggings in Crouch End and Muswell Hill sees public meeting called”, talked of a rise in crime in the west of our borough, with children mugged by “older teens” at bus stops on the way home from school. The blame, according to some local people, is the drop in police numbers on their streets.

But there is a much wider picture to consider. Youth services also have a role to play in helping keep our young people safe. That is why we are committed to developing a borough-wide youth programme, which will deliver localised support and activities that young people can access easily. We also continue to work with police and other partners whose jobs it is to keep our borough safe and we will fight against any further cuts or changes to services that will affect young people.

The most important thing is that young people in Haringey are given the very best start in life, regardless of where they live or their economic circumstances. We need to ensure all young people in the borough have access to all the facilities and opportunities they need to achieve the very brightest of futures.

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Have a mooch around the high street and help indpendent traders

Jon, full name and address supplied, writes:

People are always complaining about shops closing and how the big names have forced independent traders off our high streets.

Well, I spent the day in Hampstead and found wonderful independent traders of a variety of goods.

I especially liked the Hampstead Antiques & Craft Emporium hidden away in an alleyway just off Heath Street two minutes from the station, with a small selection of antique and collectable stalls and a few handmade craft stalls.

I felt I was in an episode of Antiques Road Trip with lots of lovely dealers and traders. I spent time chatting to Kendi, a lady who makes her own bags and clothes right there, using Kimono and Obi silks, or William Morris fabric, and much more.

I then moved on to a couple of antique stalls, with an amazing array of goodies at really reasonable prices – a silver cabinet or a perfume bottle cabinet or even a shelf of beautiful Celtic jewellery.

Next to that dealer I found a memorabilia stand with signed football shirts. I bought a very nice Dennis Law signed shirt for just £150 all framed beautifully – when online they are over £200. I am going to return there next week for a Jake LaMotta signed photo... who doesn’t want a Raging Bull photo signed by him?

I then met a lovely Persian man called Mo and purchased a lovely gift for my wife.

I recommend anyone to go there, mooch around, grab a coffee, get a bargain and support struggling independent traders.

Traffic island removal flawed

Julia McCormack, Savernake Road, Belsize Park, writes:

In “Removing traffic islands risks safety of pedestrians and cyclists near school”, , Nick Harding in his otherwise informative letter errs when he says that there was little that informed Camden’s decision to remove the islands on Prince of Wales Road as part of the scheme to build a one-way cycle lane.

While there was nothing in the consultation document, and the feasibility study misleadingly only talks of two islands being removed, this is in the “Consultation Responses and Officers’ Comments” section: “Negative comments: Removal of traffic islands, not clear from consultation drawing and consultation document. Refuges are a hugely important safety feature for pedestrians.

“Officer Response: It is proposed to remove two traffic islands at informal crossings and two islands at zebra crossings along the Prince of Wales Road corridor to allow for the introduction of a westbound cycle lane. In addition, four islands at the Malden Road/Prince of Wales Road junction and four islands at the Haverstock Hill/Prince of Wales Road junction are proposed to be removed. The proposed design will go through a Road Safety Audit (RSA) and if any concerns about the proposed removals are flagged up in the audit these will be addressed in the detailed design.”

So for the 90 per cent who replied to the consultation and live outside the area, this at least confirms what Mr Harding has said. For anyone living close, you just have to stand on the side of the road to realise that traffic islands and cycle paths can’t co-exist.

There simply isn’t the space unless you ban parking.

Desecration of Sir Sydney’s garden

A Hampstead resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

Those of us who had the pleasure of playing, working and showing visitors around Sir Sydney Waterlow’s magnificent house called Fairseat on Highgate Hill are grateful to Ruth Pavey for bringing the recent tragic felling of the ancient cedar of lebanon to our attention in last week’s Ham&High.

The relentless development over both Fairseat’s lovely garden and the grounds behind Channing Senior School over the last 10 years has caused widespread dismay in the community. Channing’s unceasing ambition to rival local schools in providing bigger and better facilities has been at the expense of the glories of its buildings and estates: the felling of the cedar tree, beloved by generations of pupils, staff and parents, on the dubious grounds of “fungus” is the final insult.

I fear the reputation of the school and its senior management will suffer greatly as a consequence. They will forever be remembered as the people who oversaw what can only be described as the desecration of Sir Sydney’s garden at Fairseat which was not his intention when he left it and Waterlow Park to the community as a “garden for the gardenless”. Nor has there been any mention of the planting of a replacement cedar tree for future generations to enjoy.

Failure to grasp CS11 judgement

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, local campaigner, full address supplied, writes:

I refer to Simon Munk’s article, “Those who blocked CS11 should ‘reflect hard’ as more risk future injuries or death”.

Mr Munk refers to CS11 being blocked by the Court of Appeal upholding the High Court’s decision. Actually, what the High Court did (with the CofA refusing to intervene) was to recognise that Westminster’s requests over three years for information on the true impact of rat running in their neighbourhoods (which TfL refused to provide) were a legitimate basis to revoke TfL’s decision to proceed with Swiss Cottage alone. The judgment was a humiliating and searing indictment of TfL’s processes and any attempt to push blame on to Westminster, which stood up for its residents, is cowardly and fails to grasp the essential nature of the judgement.

Mr Munk suggests that TfL’s modelling is a worst case scenario. This is wrong. TfL confirmed in stakeholder meetings that the impact on some residential roads would be worse than shown in the data they provided. It did not model all residential roads and areas running adjacent to CS11 which were certain to be recipients of up to an extra “500 vehicles plus” an hour, despite even Westminster’s local Labour MP demanding that TfL produce such information.

Mr Munk suggests the outcome is a “do nothing” alternative, but nothing could be further from the truth. CS11 was due to cost tens of millions of pounds. We all want safer cycling, but there are far more pragmatic and cost-effective ways to deal with safety, reducing Sadiq Khan’s £1bn deficit, including:

n Imposing a blanket 20mph speed limit enforced by speed cameras;

n Extending the pedestrian/cycle phases of some of the pedestrian crossing lights;

• Adding one extra controlled pedestrian crossing in Adelaide Road;

• Better publicising the availability of “Cycle Quietways”, particularly Quietway 3 as an alternative route for cyclists heading for central London from the north west of Camden and Brent.

A scheme introducing safer cycling at the gyratory was presented to TfL and to Camden by one resident but was dismissed, despite maintaining all TfL’s Swiss Cottage proposed cycle lanes.

Residents remain committed to working with TfL on a scheme that works for everyone, which does not have the rat running and poor air quality consequences of CS11. TfL needs to listen to residents and local councils, be open and transparent with data, weigh interests fairly and follow due process.

CS11 and tower need rethinking

Mallory Wober PhD, Lancaster Grove, Hampstead, writes:

You report that the CS11 project has at least for the time being come to a pause – for reconsideration.

Illustrating the Swiss Cottage starting point for this cycleway, you show two idyllic pictures released by TfL, I believe, and these explicitly show, or imply, the presence of the office building at 100 Avenue Road. Most people here know that that building is imminently threatened by replacement with a 24-storey block; if that does go ahead it will promote much building access to and from the existing A41 (thus not the cycleway) and, when finished, regular access for shop deliveries and traffic serving the flats. The two idyllic pictures thus do not give a realistic impression of what may come about if either of the schemes (CS11 and the tower block) are completed.

The CS11 is strongly supported by cycling lobbies (and I cycle myself) but it is by no means obvious that if it came about there would be fewer, and less grievous, accidents as a whole. The lobbyists should provide much more detailed evidence on the number of accidents in recent years – especially in proportion to the increase in cycling journeys that has already been taking place.

Others have feared that exhaust pollution will be diverted to neighbouring roads (or perhaps simply evaporate, with the traffic which will supposedly thin out – or be replaced by electric vehicles) – but for the time being I am reassured by the daily charts printed in the Guardian of overall pollution in each of 10 UK cities (London included) and in the Evening Standard on two kinds of pollution, which have been showing low levels of exhaust gas pollution, daily, for the past six months at least (since I have been taking note).

All of this suggests that both schemes – the CS11 and the tower block – would best be reconsidered.

Is Brexit already delaying drugs?

Mick Farrant, Oak Village, Camden, writes:

One watches the TV news, reads the newspapers and trawls social media and tends to view with a degree of scepticism the doom merchant predictions of things after March 29, Brexit deal or no deal.

However, I was brought up sharply when I tried to get a prescription for high strength painkillers, not available over the counter.

Apparently the drug in question has been unavailable for some time. My pharmacist advised me to go to a larger, chain chemist. This I did and was told a consignment had just arrived and so I got lucky. Fortunately I was able to travel the couple of miles necessary to this chemist, but the patient who needed the medication was immobile and could not.

It would be interesting to know from readers whether this is an isolated instance.

More information needed on scam

Barry Fox, Belsize Grove, full address supplied, writes:

The warning to “watch out for parking meters” would be more valuable if we knew what kind of meter the writer had used.

Was it one with a card reader – which may have been fitted with a “skimmer”, like false lips?

Or was it one that gave a phone number – which may have been over-labelled with a phoney number?

Or did a plausible street scammer offer to help use the meter, and then memorise the credit card number, owner name and three digit security code?

Or maybe the card details had been quite separately stolen, for instance because a website that stored the card details had been hacked, perhaps some time ago, and the stolen details then traded on the dark web.

What did the bank, police, fraud and theft squad say?

If there is a new risk attached to using parking meters in Camden we need to know more about what it is, to be on our guard.

Join others and ban pesticide

Matthew Kirk, vice-chair, Camden Liberal Democrats, writes:

A scientific paper published last week found a third of insect species are facing extinction and the global mass of insects is declining by 2.5 per cent a year.

The report warns of “catastrophic consequences for the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind”.

Intensive pesticide use is the leading cause.

Camden could make a small but meaningful contribution to responding to this terrifying scenario by following Hammersmith and Fulham and cities around the world in becoming pesticide-free. Pesticides are unnecessary in townscape management and there are economic alternatives.

As a minimum first step, Camden should join Bristol, Brighton and Edinburgh in banning glyphosate use – for both environmental and health reasons, as the evidence of carcinogenic effect continues to build.

Liberal Democrat councillors will be making that argument at the next council meeting, supported by the other opposition parties.

We call on Labour to support the move and residents across Camden to write to their councillors urging them to do so.