Ham&High letters: Legible signage, Nazanin, basements, buses, cyclists on Heath, gremlins at H&H, police cuts, hygiene, markets, cladding and Govia

A Legible London board. Picture: Charlotte Gilhooly/Creative Commons

A Legible London board. Picture: Charlotte Gilhooly/Creative Commons - Credit: Charlotte Gilhooly

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

Decision to block signage sensible one

Linda Chung, Hampstead, full address supplied, writes:

I was pleased to learn (Ham&High, June 7) that Camden had refused the planning applications for Legible London signage on Hampstead High Street.

Grateful thanks are due to the Heath and Hampstead society for alerting us to the original consultation

Besides the obelisks being totally inappropriate for narrow streets, the signs themselves are a mockery of what is practical or useful.

The detail and writing on them is so small that they are far from legible, and duplicates what can already be found on a mobile phone.

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Somehow, someone in Transport for London (TfL) has decided, as stated in Camden’s consultation paper, they are “the London standard for clear mapping and directional information”.

Furthermore, to be in any way successful, they need careful placement.

I took a photograph recently of an obelisk, that you can barely find amongst the other clutter.

It is more of a body prop than useful signage.

TfL would have done better not to have wasted their money, but to have spent it on better bus services.

• What do you think? Email letters@hamhigh.co.uk

Tiny Gabriella continues to miss out on vital time with her loving family

Linda Grove, Belsize Park, writes:

June 11, 2018, was Prince William’s birthday. It was also Gabriella Ratcliffe’s, but the difference was that Prince William was with his parents unlike Gabriella, whose parents are both captives by circumstance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Nazanin continues to serve time in her Iranian jail charged with charges she is not guilty of and a government whose leaders use her for political gains against our government, whilst her husband Richard, in a sense, is captive too and not being able to lead a normal life with his beloved wife and daughter.

Richard Ratcliffe and his amazing, supportive family gathered outside the Foreign Office to light candles for for Gabriella’s 4th birthday, a moving vigil. We all experienced a father talk movingly to his daughter by video to Iran where she lives with her Iranian grandparents, asking if mummy had made her dress and could she stop eating that water melon and chat with him on her birthday, the kind of things a father says to his child!

Gabriella has the most endearing smile to die for and, although she isn’t with her daddy, that’s the smile that Richard has too. We all got to sing happy birthday to Gabriella and the family made a chocolate cake for all to share and I suspect that might be Richard’s favourite as well as Gabriella!

What must this wee girl make of this strange life which she is having to lead, speaking to her daddy on the phone and visiting her mummy in jail? In a sense, she may be the most settled of the three in scenario. She is loved and cared for my her loving Iranian grandparents and she has learnt that her mummy and daddy are elsewhere and that’s the way it is. The ones who have the toughest time are Nazanin and Richard with their life on hold.

Tulip Saddiq, the Radcliffe’s MP, repeated at the vigil how much she admires Richard and his family for the tireless and dignified way in which they continue to run the campaign for Nazanins release.

We all do for sure.

Beware the perils of basements

Andrew Taylor, Lyndhurst Road, Hampstead, writes:

To return to the subjects of basements and as a warning to all where they are being built, I follow up on the saga of my once prize winning garden in Lyndhurst Road.

A few years ago the house to our left was given permission to build a basement at the end of which they had successfully dammed our garden - the rain had nowhere to go and our garden became a swamp with much damage to shrubs and plants.

The council’s answer to this was that they had put in drainage provision when giving permission and therefore couldn’t do anything - obviously the drainage provision was inadequate.

While holding back the tears on that, the council then gave permission to the property flanking our garden to the right to build another basement - the end result of that is even less drainage, a swamp land so bad that my shoes are swallowed by it if I try to walk in some areas and a dead tree. This tree was killed during that building process, they probably cut through the roots to facilitate the basement digging.

The council came out to look and their response - would we like permission to cut the tree down?

So beware all you people who love your gardens and your trees and have not yet lost them.

Keep the anti-basement fight going where you can because basements have already caused untold damage and brought much heartache.

Unless the planners are made more answerable to the rate payers then nothing will change and the destruction will get worse.

‘Ridiculous’ bus service reduction

Cllr Flick Rea, Camden Town Hall, writes:

Mr “every journey matters” mayor has done it again!

Without any prior warning, from Saturday June 9 route 268 will be cut from six an hour to four (three on Sundays).

No consultation with users or, as far as one can tell, local authorities! This is getting ridiculous!

How can people be expected to leave their cars at home if their bus services are so infrequent. The C11 has already shown us this reduction in service doesn’t work - long waits and overfull buses and the reduction in service on Finchley Road have made life more difficult for bus users.

Who makes these decisions? No doubt people who don’t use buses! It’s time we started making a real fuss!

Write with your objections to Caroline Pidgeon Lib Dem chairman of the GLA Transport Committee.

We understand that this mayor doesn’t sit on the TfL board - well maybe he should!

Cyclist must take care on the Heath

Ken Pyne, Well Walk, Hampstead, writes:

At 8.15am on a sunny Sunday morning we thought what a nice idea for a walk on Hampstead Heath while it’s so peaceful and quiet which it was until reaching the west side of the Viaduct Pond on virgin unpathed fields.

A young cyclist in a green Corporation of London tee shirt came haring up behind us almost clipping our elbows ‘I thought you weren’t supposed to cycle here’ was all we could come with as a lame protest ‘You can if you work here!’ came a reply followed by a torrent of abuse as he disappeared, dirt flying from his back wheel round the next copse.

At least we’d seen the back of him, or so we hoped, but five minutes later on reaching what we thought was the safety of The Vale of Health the same cyclist came racing down the hill at a speed even Bradley Wiggins has yet to attain going through other walkers accompanied by the now familiar abuse to anyone with the audacity to be in his way.

Much has changed on the Heath over recent years including now alas it seems the once noted friendliness to other users and care and consideration for it by some staff now employed by The Corporation of London.

How sad.

Please forgive the gremlins in work

John Walde, author of ‘Hampstead - A Next of Gentle Artists’, writes:

A few gremlins appeared in the excellent article about my manuscript on the Hampstead artists.

To set the record straight, it was the artist Mary Harrison (1788-1875) who was the first English woman artist to be allowed to copy in the Louvre - not Mary Hudson.

I would also like to point out that Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) and Elizabeth Siddal (1829-1862) lived briefly in Spring Cottage (site of Hampstead Hill Mansions, Downshire Hill) in 1860. Rossetti retrieved his manuscripts from Siddal’s grave in 1869 and published them in ‘Poems’ (1870).

I take pride in my work but there will always be someone who will pick on errors unless they are corrected.

I don’t want my research to be judged by a few gremlins.

Blame government for cuts - end of

John Stratton, Thurlow Road, Hampstead, writes:

I have been away and hence unable to respond before now to Ms Learmond-Criqui’s tiresome ongoing tirade against the mayor about police cuts.

Andrew Dismore’s response made it quite clear that the mayor’s cuts to the police budget – part funded by the government - were as a direct result of government cuts as the mayor’s budget is limited as to how much he can raise.

Mr Dismore has not replied to her latest letters as no doubt like me he is sick of Ms Learmond-Criqui’s refusal to accept any reasonable answers and continues like a terrier with a bone to persist in her unreasonable attacks.

The answer to her question to me is – if the situation does get worse, I shall certainly “point the finger” and it will be – like now - at those who voted in this shambolic dreadful government which is more concerned about Brexit than paying attention to domestic problems, which will get worse for everyone financially and socially with rising costs, and even more tightening of budgets, police or otherwise.

As editors used to say in the old days, as far as I am concerned this correspondence is now closed.

Previous deli boss defends record

Alan Woolston, West Hampstead, full address supplied, writes:

I must take issue with Mr Alon Kubi when he appears to blame the previous occupants for the zero hygiene rating awarded by Camden Council in December 2017 despite the fact that they left nearly 18 months earlier. I and my business partner, owned Belsize Village Deli from June 1991 until July 2016 when it was bought by Mr Kubi. During our 25 years we received regular inspections (upstairs and downstairs) from Camden Food Safety inspectors and regular inspections under our Rentokil contract.

We never, never, once received a zero rating.

In fact, the Ham&High’s own Matthew Lewin wrote that ours was the shop he would most like to spend a night in – hardly likely if he had to share the shop with mice.

Swiss Cottage has two markets

Marcia MacLeod, West Hampstead, full address supplied, writes:

Your Property article on Swiss Cottage referred to the farmers’ market which, it says, “attracts food stalls serving everything from Thai to Portugese”.

You have got it wrong – not for the first time.

If you actually look at Swiss Cottage Wednesday market, it is split in two.

The farmers’ market is at the back and can only sell produce grown, reared or made within 100 miles of the M25. It can not, and does not, sell anything from Thailand, Portugal or anywhere else outside of Britain.

The front part of the market is just that – a market, not a farmers’ market.

While not wishing to dismiss the value of the other stalls, it is important to make this distinction because people do not understand the true benefits of a farmers’ market: food is local and therefore fresher.

Poor signal due to building cladding

Barry Fox, FBKS (Fellow, International Moving Image Society), contributing editor- Europe Consumer Electronics Daily, Belsize Park, writes:

It’s a pretty basic rule that if you stick big chunks of metal in front of radio transmitter, it will block or bounce the radio signal.

So it’s not surprising that when the new tall building next to Belsize Park Tube station was completely clad in metal scaffolding, my wireless broadband (from the Relish transmitter in Woodlands Walk) drastically weakened.

Anyone in the area who is suffering bad TV, wireless broadband or mobile reception would do well to bear this in mind before looking for faults in their own equipment, or paying for unnecessary repairs or replacement.

Time to take over Govia franchise

Andrew Dismore, London assembly member for Barnet and Camden, writes:

The chaotic introduction of the Thameslink and Great Northern new commuter routes timetable shows just how much an already bad service can get even worse.

In the meantime Conservative MP Mr Offord, the chairman of the Thameslink All Party Parliamentary Group, has strangely kept his head well down.

This is also the MP who welcomed the award of the Thameslink franchise to Govia, promising the service would improve- yet the exact opposite has happened.

While the secretary of state Chris Grayling MP blames everyone except himself (though he signed off on the new timetable scheme), perhaps he should reflect on the Conservative government’s promise made before the 2016 London elections.

This was to transfer the commuter lines to TfL, which after the elections he broke because of his desire to “keep commuter lines out of the clutches of a future Labour mayor”.

TfL have had remarkable success turning round the commuter rail lines which have been transferred to them, like the London Overground.

It is time for the government to accept finally this is no way to run a railway. They should strip Govia of the franchises and honour their pledge to transfer the lines to TfL without further delay.