Ham&High letters: Public sector pay-rises, Hampstead Cemetery, cyclists, bus stand, the Ponds and the Streatery

This accompanied Avro Lancaster was seen close up from the top of Parliament Hill on Sunday morning,

This accompanied Avro Lancaster was seen close up from the top of Parliament Hill on Sunday morning, during a flight as part of the VJ Day preparations. Picture: Harry Taylor - Credit: Harry Taylor

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

After all that, is this really right?

Martin Oliver Connolly, Parliament Hill, Hampstead, writes:

After much fanfare and clapping for nurses, carers and key-workers, they have not been deemed worthy of a pay rise in the same way as doctors, police, and teachers.

If our prime minister had succumbed to this awful virus, in the way that so many people have across the UK, who would have wrapped and cared for the body, and disinfected the room, as they have done thousands of times up and down the country? When a lift at the Royal Free is marked Covid-19 Patients Only, and a cleaner is sent to disinfect it, does the cleaner turn away, or do the low paid job he or she is employed to do?

Have we really lost our moral compass so badly that we forget who we were hoping would care for us, while celebrating poems about the hands that touch us first and last, as well as finding the pulse, fixing the drip, emptying the pans and clamping the veins, and on and on - were we hoping that a poem or some clapping would suffice, while we all sheltered safely at home and let them put themselves at risk? Is a book celebrating the NHS with lofty essays from the famous and semi-famous supposed to be enough?

Dear NHS workers, nurses, cleaners, porters, and other key workers, some people are still on your side and are still fighting for you.

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The facilities

Yvonne Kemperer, Aberdare Gardens, Hampstead, writes:

Indeed very commendable that volunteers with the support of Friends of Hampstead Cemetery (Ham&High, July 16) have helped to keep the gates of Hampstead Cemetery open for visitors during this pandemic crisis; equally commendable is the high standard of cemetery care and ecological ventures by the groundsmen there. This is a municipal cemetery serving the public including those who have personal family grave plots and it is also a site of ever-increasing interest and historic attraction.

However, it remains a disgraceful fact that in this 26 acre site all available public toilets have been made inaccessible for years. Now is the time to reverse this and for Islington and Camden to work proactively together and re-introduce sensibly maintained toilets for all - free or paid, especially in our national drive to improve public health awareness at this difficult time.

The Wild West

Lester May, Reachview Close, Camden Town, writes:

I am pro-cycling but I cannot be pro-cyclist when so many cycle along streets, footpaths and towpaths as if re-enacting the Wild West.

Recently, a speeding pavement cyclist endangered me when I left our estate to join the one-way street’s pavement – inches away from a collision, he cycled on and, though shaking with fear and rage, my drawing on lower-deck language made me feel better!

Some years ago, at the same spot, a speeding cyclist rode straight into my groin – bicycles have no number displayed and contact information was refused.

Our inadequate Mayor of London recruited a £100,000-a-year walking and cycling commissioner but, sadly, Will Norman is only interested in two wheels, not two legs. TfL promotes cycling but does nought to remind cyclists of the law and safety. Never once have I seen an advertisement reminding cyclists not to cycle on footpaths (Highways Act 1835, Section 72), yet every day I could challenge a cyclist I see breaking the law. Walking canal towpaths is no longer safe, cyclists having taken over as they practise for a Yellow Jersey.

The police are not interested. Does any authority really care about pedestrians? Let’s campaign for pedestrian safety, local authorities introducing pedestrian wardens who can fine cyclists on the spot. Technology could be used at cycle path traffic lights to promote safe cycling and the law (useless, of course, when cyclists ignore red lights!).

Back in the gym

Keith Sedgwick, Fortune Green Road, Hampstead, writes:

On Saturday, for the first time in almost four months, gyms were able to open. In West Hampstead, we are fortunate to have the one-and-only Studio Society. It’s a local gym which isn’t part of a chain and one in which exercise is entirely done by group classes. In this gym, spaces were marked out, in which attendants were able to exercise, with suitable social distancing and the studios were sanitised, after each class, in preparation for the next one.

The way in which the club was managed, left me feeling that my safety was being prioritised, whilst at the same time, any inconvenience was being minimised. So, if any of my fellow residents of West Hampstead, or thereabouts, are feeling nervous about returning to exercise, I would like to assure them that there is a local gym, which is doing everything possible to allay concerns, whilst providing a unique way to get fit.

As a man in his 50s, I cannot recommend Studio Society more highly enough, as a truly local enterprise that deserves our support, especially at a time when being fit, is key to being able to withstand Covid.

Bus stand

John Stratton, Thurlow Road, Hampstead, writes:

I am dismayed at yet another proposal to remove the 168 bus stand from the South End Green slip road to facilitate a so-called “Streatery”.

It is evident the proposal has been made without consulting either TfL responsible for agreeing changes, nor Cricklewood Garage that provides the buses , nor the drivers themselves. They could not be diverted to use the 24 stand on the other side of the road because these huge vehicles could not negotiate the left hand turn at the bottom of Pond Street and if they went into the 24 bus stand they would be blocked in by those vehicles.

The only alternative (which was considered before) would be for them to continue down Constantine/Agincourt Road, turn right at the traffic lights and come back up Fleet Road, where they would need to park somewhere by the stop already in use for vehicles on the 24 route to stand before entering the proper lay-by. This is all very well for a one-day festival but the residents of Fleet Road would have to suffer this throughout the summer, with the road already full of parked cars and potentially up to three more additional double deckers outside their houses.

I have already written to the manager of Cricklewood Bus Garage about the number of empty route 168 vehicles going to and from the garage via the Whitestone Pond and Heath Street often in opposite directions at the same time, in off-peak hours and even passing each other in Heath Street. The drivers need to change over, but not the vehicles and I have questioned this wasteful use of resources and unnecessary additional traffic congestion.

A fair price

Ana Truman, Hampstead, full address supplied, writes:

I see some of the same local Luddites who got their knickers in a twist a few years ago about the construction of essential Heath Ponds flood defence works are at it again, this time whinging about perceived God-given rights to scrounging a swim without having to pay for it.

What they forget is that the City of London Corporation has already shelled out an astronomical £17 million for the Ponds flood works, on top of its already multi-million annual Heath maintenance costs.

As I recall some of the current swimming fee refuseniks also vociferously denounced the 2016 flood defence scheme as “preposterous” and “ecologically wrecking” citing the most spurious and inane grounds - all of which have since been proven to be a load of eco-codswallop.

Now they are protesting so they can continue scrounging a swim in what are arguably superb, world-class upgraded facilities in a free-entry national park. “Country club” indeed!

Readers may be interested to know that the Ponds flood defences have won several top environmental awards, including the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) London Civil Engineering’s top award, the ICE Community Benefit Award.

Just one more reason why charging £4 to use the Ponds is an absolute steal.

In praise of the Streatery

Jayne Chiazzari and Phil Welch, Hampstead, full address supplied, wrote to Camden Council:

Please can you help ensure the village Streatery carries on for the whole summer and into the autumn if possible. As long as the weather is nice, it has been the most welcome addition to our village.

We have lived here since 1990 and the village has never felt more alive!

Despite us having been through (and it is ongoing still) an awful year and corona/Covid, you see people smiling, socialising at a safe distance and generally enjoying themselves.

You could even introduce huge umbrellas so people could still sit outside if the weather gets bad.

Please do not stop this amazing atmosphere. All the restaurants enjoy it and it works so well.

At times like these, surely the council wants to support these local businesses as much as possible.

We cannot see any reason the council should not agree to this.

Lee and Gina Marks, Daleham Gardens, Belsize Village, write:

We all love our new vibrant village square – full of atmosphere and fun.

It has brought our village to life.

Having been a resident of Daleham Gardens, which backs on to Belsize Village, for 16 years we want you to know how much we love the new Summer Streeteatery.

Not only has this proven to be an important lifeline for local shops and restaurants but it has created a wonderful village atmosphere which virtually all local residents feel has improved the vibrancy and atmosphere of this local area.

My wife and I are fully in support of this wonderful local initiative which we feel could, and should, be replicated thoughout the country.

Lynn and Gene Frieda, Belsize Terrace/Belsize Lane, write:

We are very much in favour of continuing the Streatery beyond July 31. The Streatery has been a great way to support local restaurants in Belsize Park. It’s added to the vibrancy of the Belsize Terrace Square and helped to bring people back together after the long lockdown.

Colin Church, owner, Ergotec Health, writes:

We would like to offer our support to the fantastic Summer Streatery presented by Belsize Village. It is a fantastic addition to the local area (thank you BOB) and look forward to it continuing for as long as possible.

• As the Ham&High was going to press, a spokesperson said a decision on the extension to the Belsize Streatery licence to cover the period up to September 27 2020 was due to be taken on Wednesday (July 27). Visit hamhigh.co.uk for the latest on the decision - Ed