Ham&High letters: Queen Mary’s House, day centres, violence, Hampstead Figure and police

Enquiries into the sale of Queen Mary's House, Heath Street, have caused controversy

Enquiries into the sale of Queen Mary's House, Heath Street, have caused controversy - Credit: Francesca Fazey

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

No decision to sell this hospital site

Sir David Sloman, chief executive, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, writes:

In response to your article regarding Queen Mary’s House in Hampstead (Backlash in Hampstead over Royal Free Hospital plans to sell off Queen Mary’s House for luxury flats), I wanted to clarify a number of points.

No decision has been made to sell the Queen Mary’s House site in Heath Street.

To gauge the level of potential interest we engaged Knight Frank estate agents to market the property.

They have been openly marketing the site since March 2018.

Residents were informed in February this year when we also wrote to local neighbourhood groups and other key stakeholders.

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If ever a decision is taken to sell the site, the trust is committed to finding alternative accommodation for the tenants of Queen Mary’s House who are all on short term leases.

In addition, if sold, any purchaser seeking planning permission would have to meet Camden Council’s affordable housing policies.

The trust has a duty to ensure that it gets the best value out of our estate.

Queen Mary’s House is no longer suited to the delivery of modern 21st century healthcare

Any income we may generate from a sale will be ploughed back into helping us deliver world class care for our patients.

Reality of closing day centres should be top priority for new council

Martin Hewitt, Save Autism Service Haringey, Victoria Road, Muswell Hill, writes:

Mary Langan’s View from the Street (“Will our council now stand up and help autism community after years of disservice?”, Ham&High, May 31) asks what the new council will do to address the damage done by the outgoing council’s social care policies, which closed day centres and residential homes for adults with autism and learning disability and introduced community day opportunities as the cheaper alternative.

Vulnerable adults and their family carers now face an intolerable predicament, the more so the more complex their needs.

Closed day centres means: more hours when families care for their adult children at home under stressful conditions – the new day activities provide less hours per week than the 28 hours per week day centres; more time spent by adults travelling in and out of the borough to activities; less time to develop friendships with other users and staff; loss of council trained staff; and more isolation for family carers separated from other carers.

The predicament for vulnerable adults whose parents have died or are too frail to care is even worse.

Supervised by the new Haringey Council in the guise of corporate parent, they live in long term supported living accommodation staffed by private providers which the council insists must provide their own activities to replace day centres.

They are excluded from current day centres and day opportunity programmes, as the council’s proposals in 2015 made clear.

In 2016 the majority of adults in the council’s day centres for learning disabilities lived in supported living and a minority with their own families.

A year later the position had reversed, with a much smaller numbers of supported living users in the council’s only day centre at Ermine Road and many placed out of borough.

By contrast far fewer adults living with families are placed out of borough.

The exclusion of supported living adults from day centres and in borough provision generally – which raises questions of discrimination and injustice – is one of a number of priorities affecting learning disability for the new Haringey Council to address, and it is a core issue for its

recently announced fairness commission.

Crucial service to support disability

Michael Fitzpatrick, Ridge Road, Crouch End, writes:

Mary Langan calls upon the newly-elected radical Labour council to honour the pledges made during the election campaign to establish a dedicated autism centre in Haringey.

As a doctor, who is also the father of a young man with autism, epilepsy and severe learning disabilities, I strongly endorse this proposal.

Mary points out that the increased stress on families resulting from the closure of residential and day centre provisions by the previous council is likely to result in increasing physical and mental illness.

The loss of contact with skilled and experienced staff means that early signs of ill-health – and evidence of neglect or abuse – are less likely to be detected.

A study published last year by the leading autism research charity Autistica revealed that, on average, the life expectancy of people with autism is 16 years less than people who are not autistic; those who also have a learning disability are likely to die 30 years before their peers.

Appropriate adult social care provisions, including day centres, are crucial to providing people with autism with the support they need to enable them to enjoy the same standards of wellbeing as the rest of the community.

Council must be true to pledges

Hilarie Gedroyc, full address supplied, writes:

I echo Mary Langan’s call for a specialist centre in Haringey for adults with autism and learning disability.

Sadly, it is usually just the families of these people and the few higher calibre service providers who comprehend the challenge of supporting them 24 hours a day.

Adults with very limited understanding, and poor communication skills can rarely occupy their time on their own, except in ways that are neither safe for them nor acceptable to others.

For many, inclusion in undifferentiated community activities is a pipe-dream as parents whose adult children have been barred from leisure centres, threatened or even arrested can testify.

In local charity Kith and Kids’ Lifetime Advocacy and Support Project (which I chair), it is common for the advocacy staff to find that our adult disabled members have very little to do all day.

The lack of appropriate supported activity causes distress and can spark destructive behaviours including self-harm and harm to others and the break-down of living arrangements.

This is the context in which we need Haringey councillors to follow through on the warm words spoken in the run-up to the council elections.

Session to tackle rising violence

Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, writes:

In 2018, London has suffered double the number of fatal stabbings compared to the same period last year.

Kilburn has been specifically affected by the violence, which is why I joined residents in the march against knife crime to support our youth and demand investment in youth services earlier this year.

However, there is much more to do.

I have therefore organised another community safety drop-in session, this time in Kilburn.

It will be held on Saturday, June 23 at 1pm at Kingsgate Community Centre. All are welcome, and residents should feel free to put questions to the police on any issue of local safety that has affected them, or if they simply feel things should be done differently.

Representatives from both Brent and Camden police will be in attendance, as will local councillors and Safer Neighbourhood Panel representatives.

Fight to stop cuts leading to crime

Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, writes:

Local residents are understandably concerned by the recent string of robberies and assaults on school children by groups of youths, most recently on May 2 in Muswell Hill Playing Fields and on May 16 in Albert Road Recreation Ground.

It is part of a worrying London trend that started under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition and has seen robberies and muggings rise by 30 per cent since 2010 whilst the number of frontline police has fallen by nearly 7,000.

I have consistently raised these issues in parliament and I secured a debate where I urged the policing minister to review the financial settlement for our police force and, at the very least, recruit an extra 10,000 officers to ensure they have the resources they need to deal with the upsurge in crime.

I also challenged the prime minister Theresa May directly on what action she is taking to make our streets safer and she has instructed the new home secretary to meet with both myself and David Lammy, MP for Tottenham to discuss the specific issues we face here in Haringey.

We will use that meeting to urge the home secretary to cancel the further £325 million in cuts the Metropolitan Police is expected to make by 2021.

You can support my campaign to stop the cuts to our police bu visiting my website at catherinewest.org.uk.

This sculpture site is inappropriate

Janine Sachs, chairman, Save Swiss Cottage, writes:

100 Avenue Road developers’ Essential Living (EL) have applied to remove the Grade II-listed Hampstead Figure Sculpture from the Green Space to the front of the sports Hall on Adeleide Road [option 4].

The sculpture, currently sited at the southern end of the 100 Avenue building, was commissioned in 1964 to be near the library as part of the group of civic buildings for the borough of Hampstead by Sir Basil Spence.

EL want to move it to make way for their demolition trucks.

In his report granting permission for the 100 Avenue Road development (February 18, 2016) the inspector agreed the relocation of the Hampstead Figure but recommended “repositioning with careful thought…to substantially enhance the setting of the sculpture and its relationship with the library” [IR. 284] .

EL’s proposed location ignores the ‘historic imperative to place the statue on the Open Space where people can see and appreciate it’.

The area to the back of the leisure centre is less frequented than the side on the Green (Open) Space.

Therefore this application goes directly against the Inspector’s recommendations.

Re-siting the sculpture on the grass mound directly in front of the library near the outside gym with a good all round view most respects the Inspector’s stipulations.

With appropriate landscaping there need be no physical harm to the statue or to passers-by any

more than where it is currently situated.

We strongly object to the re-siting of the sculpture to the rear of the sports hall on Adelaide Road in Swiss Cottage because this location will not enhance the setting of the sculpture and its intended relationship with the library and Green Space.

Send your objections, as much as possible in your own words to: Jonathan.McClue@camden.gov.uk; subject heading ref: 2018/2340/P.

What is solution to policing issue?

J Cairns, Victoria Road, Muswell Hill, writes:

Jessica Learmond-Criqui is clearly a very articulate and highly intelligent woman who has given a good deal of thought to the problems of policing London (Standing by police claims, H&H letters, May 31).

She has doubtless formulated a solution: I think it is now time for her to tell us and the mayor just what that solution is.

A challenge over police cut claims

Andrew Dismore, London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden, writes:

Jessica Learmont-Criqui criticises me over not continuing the correspondence over police numbers.

At the risk of sounding like a cracked record, to answer Ms Learmont-Criqui’s concerns, I would remind her that she has again avoided the challenges I gave her over her bizarre approach to the role of the mayor and the funding of the police.

I challenged her (Ham&High Letters, May 31) to produce any document that states the mayor “issued a diktat” to cut the police in the bald terms she asserts. She has failed to do so.

I challenged her to give the figure as to what increase the council tax would be, to meet her demands for police numbers.

And I challenged her to be upfront over her political allegiances and ambitions. She has failed to do so. Ms Learmont-Criqui is being disingenuous by throwing around half-baked assertions with no evidence. I have given the facts and figures a number of times now.

It is time she did the same.

Chance for trust to work with us

Linda Chung, Camden Liberal Democrats, writes:

The Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust hired estate agents to explore the market potential for the sale of Queen Mary’s House and its grounds.

How many thousands has the trust wasted to get an answer that everyone knows? More gated, luxury developments are the last thing that Hampstead needs.

A sale would mean the loss of housing for 52 nurses and key workers, and some top class therapeutic care facilities for the frail and elderly, many with dementia.

Hampstead has witnessed the sad results of the sale of other public assets – New End Nurses Home which lay empty for years while being passed between speculative developers.

The trust must share its plans and aspirations, with the medical world, the local and wider NHS community, for more ambitious and imaginative ways of retaining the land for medical and key worker housing use.

Planning permission must be refused for luxury developments on the site.

Instead the trust should regard this as a golden opportunity to work together, to ensure that this land is retained in the spirit of its original bequest.