Ham&High letters: Kenwood House, Belsize Park Co-op, MP twitter blocking, medicines post Brexit, CS11 and pedestrian safety

Kenwood House is being spoilt by its need to hold events for its funds. Picture: KEN MEARS

Kenwood House is being spoilt by its need to hold events for its funds. Picture: KEN MEARS - Credit: Archant

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

Government cuts to blame for state of Kenwood

Bill Rodgers (Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank), Highgate Village, full address supplied, writes:

When I walked across to Kenwood House on Sunday I was shocked.

The fine appearance from the terrace was desecrated by more than a dozen tents or marquees with a few leisurely workers removing scaffolding and a number of white plastic bags blowing across the Pasture Ground.

I had been unable to visit Kenwood for several weeks but I was aware of controversy about commercial events.

I will not go into details of past correspondence in the Ham & High except in one respect. I think that the Kenwood manager has said that Kenwood House needs to be self-financing.

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But, the problem is not rising costs or an act of God but an Act of government three years ago. The government decided at that time to divide the existing English Heritage organisation into two parts purporting to make it even better. But when I raised the matter in the House of Lords it became clear that the minster of state for culture wanted to stop any public money going to English Heritage. As a result, English Heritage is now in receipt of much-reduced funding – as stated on their website.

This will decline further to the point when, in 2022/23, it will receive no public money at all.

These pointless cuts are damaging the fine house and its grounds.

We pledge to ‘boycott’ supermarket as threat to our village way of life

Justin Barrington, Belsize Park, writes to the Co-op board:

I am a resident in Belsize Park, where we are a London community with a village atmosphere.

You are looking to develop and open a Co-op convenience store in our small village which consists of small shops that have been here for more than 20 years. A green grocer, late night supermarket and a delicatessen. They create our village atmosphere. We know all the people who own and work in them. We know their families.

We know their children. We do not want our pretty village ruined by your supermarket. It is not appropriate. We already have a convenience store that fully serves all locals needs.

We do not want our local community businesses stressed. This is a village, not a high street. I will not shop at your store. No locals will shop at your store.

There is a strong movement against a supermarket in this village. It’s not against the Co-op brand. It’s against any supermarket. We do not need you (there is Waitrose at one end of the street and Budgens at the other end and our friends in the convenience store already here).

You will not have customers here.

So I am asking you to pull out of whatever you will be doing here and save your members the financial losses that will inevitably arise.

Do not underestimate the resolve of our community.

Again, I stress your supermarket is not appropriate to our small shopping village. It will be boycotted.

Thank you for reading this.

• We must rise up and defend our village atmosphere. So let’s all tell them by writing to Steve Murrells at the Cop Op group, 1 Angel Square, 9th Floor, M60 0AG.

Thanks for your ongoing support

Mohammed Shafiq, management, The Late Late Store, writes:

This is to all of our Belsize Village friends, family and community.

The management of The Late Late Store would like to sincerely thank all of you who have rallied with us over the past few weeks to stand against a large corporate company such as the Co-op moving into our beloved village.

We do hope that all of your efforts do not go unrecognised and our voices together will be heard by Camden Council. Amongst all those that have helped a special thank you must be made to David Percy, Jessica Learmond, Annie Ward, Shelly McKevitt, Emma Hill, Moira Braugh, Ephram Miller, Budgens Staff, Alanna Wilson and Min Kourti for all of their individual contributions to the cause.

Finally, a very special thank you to Linda Grove who’s efforts have helped to bring this community together and show that we stand united through these trials and tribulations.

We are forever grateful to have been given the opportunity to have served this community and hope all of your support will allow us to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

Thank you for all of your efforts.

Reasons to block supermarket plan

Charles Salmon QC, writes:

I object strongly to the application for a drinks license for the Co-op.

1. Belsize village is a very small village and there are already two outlets which sell alcohol.

2. The hours they have applied for are outside the usual hours granted, the purpose no doubt is to sell alcohol for as long as possible thus attracting people who could provide a threat to the area, Bearing in mind there has already been a very significant amount of burglaries in the area, some shops having being targeted multiple times (and I use the term “targeted” advisedly, smashed windows stolen produce , tills etc). The number of burglaries have been much higher than would be expected for such a small parade. The addition of another alcohol licence it seems to me would greatly aggravate the situation. As far as I know nobody has been caught.

3. The Co-op will actually add very little to the area. 18 months ago when this idea was first mooted a petition was started which attracted many signatures to the extent that the Co-op told some people including myself and I believe the Ham & High newspaper, that the plan had been abandoned.

Now 18 months later it would seem without consulting the locals they have gone ahead and now refuse to have a consultation with the local people most affected by their presence, which doesn’t suggest to me that their protestations of adding to community life and supporting the community are real.

4. There is a school within 300 to 400 yards which will not benefit at all by another alcohol licence.

5. There is also a pedestrian only area with a number of benches which will undoubtedly attract undesirables coming for the alcohol, which in turn will increase crime.

6. Belsize Lane is a very friendly close run village where the mothers and children congregate and play in the square after school and enjoy a coffee in one of the cafes, that is likely to be jeopardised and threatened by another licence.

In a village where the retail units are not much more than a stretch of 200 to 300 yards another alcohol licence will do nothing as the Co-op says to enhance community life, to the contrary it could well ruin it.

7. Camden has recently turned down an application for Tesco to move into the main parade in Belsize Park (Haversack Hill) as a result of the community’s rejection of the idea, I appreciate that was an application for planning for a change of use and this is only for a liquor licence, however, the principle is the same the local community didn’t want a store like Tesco in a much larger area of shops quarter the size of Belsize Lane.

How much more significant should the communities rejection of the Co-op licence be taken when the area involve is so much smaller therefore the effect so much greater.

I strongly object to this licence.

MP should reflect in Twitter blocking

Jeremy Brier, West Hampstead, writes:

I am concerned to note from recent discussions on social media that Tulip Siddiq MP has the habit of “blocking” constituents from reading her tweets, or otherwise engaging with her on Twitter, in circumstances where she perceives them to be questioning her stances or where they belong to another political party.

While it is fully understandable that an MP may wish to block a “troll”, or someone who is rude, it seems highly inappropriate to use the “blocking” function to filter-out constituents that are simply not supporters.

A member of parliament’s basic duty is to represent all of his or her constituents.

Good governance must demand listening to everyone in the community – and, by the same token, allowing everyone to read your published views.

I do hope Tulip will reflect on her approach.

Medicines agency loses out in Brexit

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

Back in March, following the news that the European Medicines Agency was leaving London for Amsterdam resulting in a loss of 900 highly skilled jobs, I asked the prime minister what estimate the Treasury had made of future losses for British science and research post Brexit. She dismissed my concerns.

Yet we now know that Britain’s leading role evaluating medicines is collapsing thanks to Brexit. The well-respected Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are losing contracts and failing to win new ones because there’s such uncertainty over what will happen from March next year. That’s devastating for jobs, our economy, and our position as a global leader in science.

It’s over two years since the referendum and this shambles of a government hasn’t resolved these crucial issues. We are losing exceptionally talented people who are moving overseas as their jobs disappear and we lurch ever closer to stumbling out of the EU with so many unanswered questions, as Theresa May scrambles to make a deal – any deal.

I won’t vote for this car crash in parliament and I will continue to call for a People’s Vote, which would provide an opportunity to avert this political and economic disaster.

Cycling leads to a healthier society

Dr Mayer Hillman, Netherhall Gardens, Hampstead, writes:

I take issue with Jessica Learmond-Criqui in her response to the concerns I expressed in my critique of her objections to CS11 – not that I consider it faultless (August 23).

She continues to assert that cyclists in the Finchley Road and Swiss Cottage areas can ride on “Quietways” but has not yet indicated where these routes are. It could explain why they are so little used or, more pointedly, why most cyclists have to use the gyratory. Does she think that risk of injury, or worse, is of no interest to them?

She states that no type of resident should have precedence over another. If, as she then believes, everyone is equally important, why does she support steps being taken, for instance, for children and the elderly, to compensate them for their limited mobility – as I assume she does. I can assure her again that few people of the largely residential Finchley Road choose to live on it knowing how damaging it is to their lungs and cognitive functions, not to mention the disturbing near‑continuous noise.

Finally, she assumes that, after the completion of CS11, a very similar volume and pattern of traffic to the present one will switch to quiet residential roads. That implies that the current majority is composed of drivers making largely essential journeys. It ignores too the much‑to‑be wished for effect of London’s current and widely welcomed policy of heavily discouraging the use of motorised vehicles and of creating much improved conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users.

This is happening with the adoption of 20mph speed limits, the closure of more parking facilities with, of course, dispensations for handicapped drivers, and the continuous network of cycle lanes and paths ‑ and as a consequence a healthier population.

In many European cities, more than a quarter of the journeys of people over the age of 60 years are made by cycle! And a major problem of the school-run, not least the volume of traffic and parking, would be solved if private schools were obliged to give precedence to pupils living within walking or cycling distance – as are those in the public sector – for public interest reasons. Surveys show that these are children’s preferred forms of travel.

No-one discusses pedestrian safety

Joyce Glasser, Savernake Road, Hampstead, writes:

I read two fabulous letters in Ham&High Your Opinions last week which both point out the folly of disrupting and dangerous cycling lanes.

First, Nick Hardings’ excellent “It’s unsafe to ride on the pavement” points out how flawed the consultation on safety on the Prince of Wales Road really is. Whose safety? Surely not the pedestrians if cyclists are encouraged to take left or right turns on red lights when pedestrians are crossing or to speed down race track cycle lanes so that no pedestrians can ever cross the street.

Second, Jessica Learmond-Criqui‘s “CS11: Learn from Genoa tragedy”. Let’s hope that her knowledge of the facts and analysis of the irresponsible TfL plans are read by the Mayor of London. Anyone who lives in NW3 or the surrounding area has great cause for concern.

The frightening and recklessly expensive road works creating racing lanes for cyclists and corresponding danger zones for pedestrians are a folly. Residents will live with gridlock and pollution - and noise pollution - for 10 years.

Ms Learmond-Criqui doubts most people have heard of Sustrans. I have. When I was hit by a cyclist riding down a “no cycling” concrete path on Hampstead Heath and left bleeding, a passer-by took me to the office for first aid.

I was told that Sustrans forced the City of London Corporation to have at least one bike path on the Heath and a path was actually widened to make room (grass removed). Now, cyclists can pretend not to know where the cycle path is and cycle all over the place. Some turn violent if told they are not on the cycle path (I witnessed a couple being beat up by a cyclist who dismounted to assault the couple after being blocked from the path).

The mayor needs to appoint a separate walking commissioner to represent the pedestrians against the powerful cycle lobby, with their own PR agency and lawyers and with politicians in their pockets.

Will Norman has a conflict of interest in being a so-called walking and cycling commissioner and being described on his website as “an avid cyclist”.

All we hear about is cyclist safety. What about keeping pedestrians safe from cyclists?