Ham&High letters: Sir Harold Evans, TfL, public notices, Covid and Highgate library

Hugh Jones and Sandy Nairne at Hampstead Heath Croquet Club's final session of the season. The club

Hugh Jones and Sandy Nairne at Hampstead Heath Croquet Club's final session of the season. The club is always looking for new members. Send an email to the club at enquiries@hampsteadheathcroquetclub.org.uk. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

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

Fond memories of Sir Harold Evans

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

Harry Evans, who died last week at the age of 92, was a great and influential newspaper editor (Obituary).

He lived in Holly Lodge Gardens in Highgate for many years until he moved to the United States. He used to read the Ham&High and his wife Enid played her part in the local community.

I first met Harry early in 1962. I was a parliamentary candidate at a by-election in Stockton-on-Tees and he was the editor of the Darlington Northern Echo, a well-regarded provincial paper. He was already making his name as a strong campaigning journalist.

After I was elected to parliament, we kept in touch and, after a few years, Harry arrived in London, soon becoming the editor of the Sunday Times. My wife Silvia – Harry called her “fiercely pretty” - my three daughters and I lived in Patshull Road, Kentish Town, about a mile from the home of Harry’s family and we visited each other.

On one occasion, he telephoned to suggest a swim in the Highgate men’s pond. I was then the minister of state for tourism and I needed to appoint good members of the new Tourism Authority. He proposed an expert from his own Sunday Times team and, as a result, she was appointed.

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I saw much less of Harry when he lived in America but we shared a seminar at the Duke University, North Carolina, when he was a visiting professor.

Now I have – and will always retain - fond memories of Harry in north London 40 years ago.

Every journey matters?

R Dantzic, Lymington Road, Hampstead, writes:

I am grateful that you gave so much space to the issue of Finchley Road.

It is a matter of record that TfL are a law unto themselves paying scant regard to the comments of residents best placed to understand and experience the results of their decision. I note that the scheme will be closely monitored but why can’t we know on what criteria was the walking space threshold set. I had the same response when I point out the chaos caused by making the exit at Lancaster Gate in Regent’s Park single line. I have no faith in their monitoring because if they had it would have reverted to two lanes by now. Regarding the issues around Swiss Cottage and beyond, a road contractor told me only this week that TfL have no concern for problems beyond 10 metres from the highways for which they are responsible. How then are local authorities to respond if TfL are the cause of the problem?

I, for one, are fed up constantly hearing “every journey matters”.

The governors

Caroline Clarke, group chief executive, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, writes:

Thank you to Mallory Wober who wrote last week concerning the role of Royal Free London governors and their important work. I wanted to write to try to clarify some of the points made as best I can in a single letter.

The Royal Free London immensely values the role played by its council of governors and takes seriously its responsibility to ensure elections to the council are open and transparent.

We work hard to ensure we communicate the details of the elections as widely as possible to ensure the council represents the diversity of our workforce and the communities we serve. This includes regular messages on social media, a devoted section on our website – including films – and adverts in the local media.

We are clear in our communications about the role of governors which is not to be involved in the direct running of our hospitals. The role of the council of governors, as set out by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, is to ensure that the voice of the public, patients, and staff is used to inform the trust’s decisions. It acts as a source of ideas about how the trust can best provide its healthcare services in ways that meets the needs of our communities. The role of governors is clearly stated on our website.

The term for a new governor is either two or three years and those elected in our most recent election will all have three year terms.  Our website had details of the number of seats which were available (12) and the results of this election were posted on our website on Monday.

Other responsibilities of governors include: appointment of the chair and non-executive; approving the appointment of the chief executive; representing the views of members and working with the trust’s board of directors, holding us to account, and producing plans for the future development of the trust.

The achievements of our governors are celebrated every year in the trust’s annual report which is also available on our website.

If Mallory would like to find out more about the role of governors, or how to become a member of our trust which allows you to stand as a governor or vote for them, our membership office would be delighted to hear from him via rf.governors@nhs.net.

Public notices

John P Graham, Hampstead Village, full address supplied, writes:

It was indeed frightening to learn that the government is looking at no longer requiring that public notices be published in the local press.

This is most frightening since it would clearly deny everyone the right to see what projects are being proposed and the opportunity to comment object.

Placing such public applications online is not the panacea which it purports to be, since not everyone who wishes to read these is computer-literate.

To proceed with this crazy idea would be like driving a centurion tank through a long tried-and-trusted procedure and would give the council an opportunity to purely ‘nod through’ applications without due consideration being given to the comments and suggestions of local residents.

This, on no account, must not be allowed go proceed.

A smorgasbord of confusion

Peter Rutherford, Pandora Road, writes:

Your article on the rebuilding of the tragic fire in Daleham Gardens, (Affordable homes plan for site of fatal fire) speaks of many residency tenures - “affordable” rent, social rent, ondon “affordable” rent, discount market sales and private sales. A smorgasbord of confusion, if ever I saw one.

I doubt the developers cherish clarity but certainly the council should - and this would be served if instead of all that, we had categories ranked by the income the resident would require.

The results would then be clear but rather shocking.

Reduce exposure

Sian Berry, Green Party co-leader and London mayor candidate, and Highgate councillor, writes:

We have lacked test information in London for weeks, which has caused huge worry for all of us in local and regional government. The news that Public Health England has added London to its list of areas of concern, using estimates from other data, shows what a crucial time this is, and how all our actions can make a difference.

The 10pm closing time for bars and restaurants has already led to crowded scenes on public transport that worry me greatly. My strong advice to Londoners today is to avoid going out in the next few days unless you have to, and find other ways to see friends and family.

Like you, I am sad, tired and weary after six months of a gruelling national crisis, but we’re in a dangerous moment, lacking data and tests, and we must work together as a city amid rising signs of infection.

I have called repeatedly for a universal and unconditional system of income support so that no-one needs to face a choice between poverty and taking risks with their health. Over the coming days we can act whether or not the government does. If you have a choice to reduce exposure or put off risky activities, it could make all the difference.

There’s still time

Anne Clarke, Labour London Assembly candidate for Barnet and Camden, writes:

A working test and trace system is essential if we’re to stem the rise in Covid-19 cases. Yet this still has not materialised.

With the government having dished out test and trace contracts to private companies, accountability and transparency have fallen by the wayside at a time when we need it most.

There is understandably a huge amount of frustration in our community about the current lack of access to testing. Key workers, parents trying to get test for their children and care homes have all struggled to access tests or faced long delays to receive their results.

The mobile testing centres dotted across the capital were supposed to plug the gaps by offering walk-in testing without the need for an appointment.

However, the lack of capacity built into the testing chain by the government has severely limited these vital services.

We can still turn things around. The government must urgently fix the track and trace system by working with universities and industry leaders to boost lab capacity.

The library

Maria Emilia Jennings, Shepherd’s Hill, Highgate, writes:

I was very pleased to see Highgate Library reopen on July 27, 2020 and I visited the very next day.

The friendly staff were organised and the books were neatly displayed but there was nowhere at all to sit down. This wasn’t too inconvenient for me but what about mums with very young children, disabled people and elderly folk. How are they meant to cope?

Also, the hours of 10.30am to 2.30pm don’t make sense - lunchtime! Surely, it would be better for this to be 2.30pm to 6.30pm as that’s when families go to the library as part of the walk home from school.

Or better still, why can’t we have the normal hours?