Mary Fielding Care Home, Werner Scheff, cycle lanes, biodiversity and the Heath

The scheme helps support people in living and ageing well. Picture: PA

The Mary Fielding Guild Care Home will be closing in three months - Credit: PA Images

Concerns over care home's future

Cllrs (Lib Dem) Dennison, Hare and Morris, Highgate ward, write:

We were shocked to learn that the Mary Feilding Guild Care Home on North Hill in Highgate will be closing in three months.

We asked for an urgent update from the council’s planning department who confirmed that there was a pre-planning application meeting last August about the development of a new and larger home, but there has been no contact with the department since then. 

We also arranged an urgent meeting with the manager of the Mary Fielding Guild last Friday to discuss the welfare of the current residents and what support they will be provided with at this worrying time. And to explain the urgency to close the home (during a pandemic!) when they clearly could not demonstrate that they had progressed any plans for a new care home. Following the meeting we still have serious concerns about the treatment of Mary Feilding Care Home residents and staff – and will support them in any way we can. 


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We also have major reservations as to whether a care home will continue on the site. Until we have cast iron guarantees from the new owners that this building will continue to be a care home we will not rest.

Information on Werner Scheff

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Anthony Ensor, Judd Street, writes:

I should be grateful for any information, no matter how tenuous, about Werner Scheff (1888, Berlin-1947, London), an Austro-German screenwriter and prolific, successful author of fiction who fled to Great Britain from Germany via Austria in 1937, apparently with fairly ample funds.

He settled at 24 Belsize Grove NW3, as it was then.

Fifteen novels of his are currently offered for purchase on the internet, and films derived in one way or another from his work can be found, too, but very little by way of biographical information appears to be available in any form.

My interest is for academic research purposes and I can be reached at anthonyensor@btinternet.com

Cycle lanes

Name and address supplied writes: 

Many elderly people I know who live in roads off Rosslyn Hill and Haverstock Hill are overwhelmingly against the proposed cycle lanes. They need their cars, and parking, in order to carry out every day tasks such as food shopping, as do parents with small children. Many elderly people cannot walk distances, especially carrying shopping.

Supermarkets have a minimum spend for delivery and this is often higher than older people can afford to spend. Even in these Covid times, it is good for people’s mental health to get out and interchange with other human beings.

The cycling lobby alleges, without providing any evidence, that there is a great demand for more cycle lanes. There has been an increase in cycle sales, but it remains to be seen how many of these were bought for leisure use or by fair weather cyclists.

The proposed route is too narrow for the cycle lanes and would adversely affect the businesses on the route, and would massively increase congestion and pollution, and delay emergency vehicles. If an ambulance is delayed in congestion, is a paramedic meant to get on his/her bike to reach a sick patient?

If the intention is to provide a cycle route from Hampstead Village to Camden Town, a more appropriate route might be along Fitzjohn’s Avenue and Adelaide Road, where there are few businesses. Fitzjohn’s Avenue has some wide pavements, where there are fewer pedestrians than along the proposed route, and these pavements could be narrowed to provide cycle lanes.

I used to cycle in London when I was young and am not opposed to cycle lanes in the right places. I have a Freedom Pass but have not travelled on public transport for a year because of Covid-19. I used to travel regularly by bus but am unable to use the tube stations on the proposed route. Hampstead, Belsize Park and Chalk Farm stations are not accessible to me because of the steps.

If there is ever a time to build this particular cycle lane it is not now. We are told to expect a third wave of coronavirus and a flu epidemic this winter, and should therefore be avoiding public transport.

A Belsize Grove resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

I am very concerned about the loss of disabled parking places on Haverstock Hill under the cycle lane proposals. This is a well-used shopping and café area.

While I support cycling for those who can, pedestrians, including those who travel by bus and tube to the busy area opposite Belsize Park tube, are the largest group of customers of the shops and cafes. Followed by car drivers, many of whom are elderly and/or disabled. And lastly cyclists. The steep hill, does, however, prevent many from cycling here.

The proposal to remove virtually all disabled (and paid) parking and put more cars into already overcrowded side streets is not going to solve the problem of being able to park outside a shop when you can only walk a few steps. The proposal to move parking spaces into the side streets will not solve the need for parking in the main road. The side streets are already full, mainly with residents’ cars, and not close enough to the shops including Boots and Budgens, which has a much-used post office.

The council paper states that cars can park or drop off in side roads. It appears not to be understood that if someone is unable to walk more than a few steps then they need to park very close to a shop. Most elderly and disabled drivers drive themselves so are not able to be dropped off.

While welcoming the addition of extra crossing places, the moving of bus stops into the carriageway, as suggested, looks somewhat dangerous for pedestrians.
Cycling lanes, it is proposed, will be put on both sides of Haverstock Hill. While a number of local people are concerned about the loss of customers for shops and cafes on Haverstock Hill, many of us are extremely worried about the loss of use of local amenities by disabled people. One suggestion is that the cycling lanes could be put just on one side (the Belsize Park station side where there are few shops).

Please help to get this scheme looked at again so that all disabled parking is retained.

Consultation?

Oliver Tambo's statue at Albert Road Recreation Ground. Picture: Haringey Council

Fifty one per cent of voters elected to rename Albert Road Recreation Ground the Tambo Recreation Ground. - Credit: Haringey Council

Keith S Gold, Highgate Avenue, writes:

On the day surge testing was happening in N10 due to an outbreak of the South African variant and the day our new council tax bills came through our letter boxes, a team of workmen arrived at the Albert Road Recreation Ground to rename it.

In October last year, in the midst of lockdown Haringey Council hand delivered 87,976 letters to buildings within 1000m of the Recreation Ground announcing a consultation due to end on November 23 on renaming the ground to the OR Tambo Recreation Ground.

On February 12, in the Ham&High, council leader Joseph Eijofor announced the result of the consultation as 51 per cent in favour. This was after the results were reviewed at the cabinet meeting on February 2 ahead of discussions on 2021/22 budget and the welfare assistance fund.

I submitted a Freedom of Information request so I could scrutinise the votes in Haringey’s selected area for consultation. They voted against, as did other Haringey residents. It was only with votes from as far away as Billericay, Greenford, Islington, Brighton, Hackney, Wallington, Lambeth and others that the 51pc  majority was achieved.

This seemed against the government’s code of practice for consultations but Cllr Eijofor said “The role of the cabinet is to consider all of the available information, give it the appropriate weight, and then to take a decision on behalf of all of the residents of Haringey.”

Even if they don’t live in Haringey?

Biodiversity

Cllr Adam Harrison, cabinet member for a sustainable Camden, writes:

In October 2019, Camden declared a climate and ecological emergency. As a council, we pledged to write a new plan for the ecology of the borough – and, despite the challenges of Covid, over the last year councillors and our in-house biodiversity experts have been examining what we can do to help nature bounce back.

Human activity of the last couple of centuries has put the natural world at great risk.

Government assessments show that the UK is failing badly on this front: since the 1970s, 41 per cent of species have decreased in abundance (the number of individuals per species), while 15pc face extinction. Too many habitats have become fragmented or lost altogether. But it is also human activity that can help rescue and restore the environment, especially in urban areas, which can host a wide variety of species. In Camden, over 60 species of principal importance have been recorded, including toads, stag beetles, and hedgehogs. We need to help them thrive.

That is why a new “nature recovery network” sits at the heart of Camden’s draft plan. We foresee a place where wildlife can make a home for itself, able to move freely along stepping-stones of habitats throughout our borough. We want to be “greening the grey” by transforming our streets through planting more trees, creating raingardens, and reducing noise and air pollution. We have already been putting this into practice during Covid by incorporating tree-planting into measures to enable more walking and cycling.

But we also know that no one person or organisation can solve the ecological crisis, and supporting a biodiverse Camden is going to need all of us – a range of individuals, organisations and businesses bringing their knowledge, skills, and resources together.

So our proposal is to establish a Camden Nature Partnership to build out this recovery network. Camden Council will provide the secretariat for the partnership and seek funding to expand its work.

We are now asking to hear your views on the council’s new Biodiversity Strategy. Please head to camdenbiodiversitystrategy.commonplace.is now to have your say on how we can protect and support nature in Camden.

Our Heath

Robert Sutherland Smith, chairman, United Swimmers Association, writes:

Like many swimmers of “long standing/floating” in the duck and fish ponds of Hampstead Heath (individuals particularly close to its aquatic bird life) I am saddened by the decline in its other examples of bird species there.

The decline, is part of a long process; swirling starling formations are greatly missed as are the many thrushes that once abounded. When Hampstead Heath was managed by the magnificent London County Council, of fond memory, there were also rabbits on Hampstead Heath, which one could observe on early morning walks. All gone! Along with the freedom of Londoners to swim without charge, with the duck and fish, in its three bathing ponds. I suspect the City Corporation may, at this very moment, be devising ways of charging the fish and the ducks for swimming in these ponds?  

I expect to participate in meetings of the newly ordained and engineered City Corporation “Sport and Welfare Forum” meetings, if allowed. But it seems that Der ring des Nibelung of EC2 (otherwise known as the City of London Corporation) wish to exclude its long and faithful critic in another form of enclosure - a ‘Not invited!’ sign.

As long as there remains a free press in Hampstead and Camden, and breathe in my body, I shall be an active promoter of fair criticism of the antediluvian City of London Corporation which has grossly betrayed its stewardship of Hampstead Heath.  

By long coincidence, the day of my birth, June 29, is the same as the publication day of the 1871 Hampstead Heath Act. So I am in a way, its corporal embodiment.

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