Road changes, trees, the Streatery and Covid-safe post offices

St Paul's School in Primrose Hill

St Paul's School in Primrose Hill, is against proposed road changes - Credit: Google Maps

Have your say on these road changes

Nicola Coleman, Hawtrey Road, Primrose Hill, writes:

I am entirely against the ill-thought-out King Henry’s area traffic reduction scheme.  
I feel sure that if my neighbours and other users of Elsworthy Road, Avenue Road, King Henry’s Road and the surrounding roads were fully aware of the plans, there would be a local outcry.

Camden’s proposal is to block Elsworthy Road entry and exit points thereby cutting off access to Avenue Road. This will not only increase congestion at the Swiss Cottage gyratory system and along Adelaide Road – an already deprived area – it will also add to congestion and pollution in both of those areas. It could lead to serious gridlock more regularly than already occurs. 

Traffic surveys indicate that there is no clear evidence of speeding in Elsworthy Road which is anyway crammed with sleeping policemen. The majority of accidents seem to have happened at the junctions of Primrose Hill Road, on Adelaide Road and in Avenue Road where, under these proposals, traffic will increase.

St Paul’s School is dead set against the proposals as they feel the extra pollution caused as a result will adversely affect their pupils. 

Camden Council do not listen to residents. It seems to us that regardless of the outcome of the consultation – consultations.wearecamden.org/ – the scheme will be bulldozed through in the council’s typically dictatorial manner. I beg the council to stop and think about alternative measures such as road narrowing, extra traffic calming measures or speed cameras.


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Judith Reinhold, Hampstead, full address supplied, writes:

Following a significant number of complaints from local residents, Camden has been forced to extend its consultation on the Elsworthy Road and King Henry’s Road area until March 21. It appears that residents in the neighbouring streets had not been consulted.

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When this plan was put forward, it was done so on the basis that it would bring substantial benefits to St Paul’s primary school. It now appears that contrary to the view put forward by Camden, the head has objected to the plan, warning that the scheme could add significantly to air pollution.

Residents in the immediate vicinity were first consulted on the proposed scheme last year, but despite the fact that it was overwhelmingly rejected at the time on the grounds that it would merely exacerbate the traffic problems, this controversial proposal is now being put forward for the third time.

As residents we fear that Camden are not listening to us and that they plan to do whatever they decide, regardless of the result of the consultation. We are totally in favour of traffic calming measures and width restrictions  for these roads but Camden are not prepared to listen to alternative proposals.

It is striking that right across the borough the council is putting forward measures in Haverstock Hill, Camden Mews and Queens Crescent which the majority oppose. It is time for us to call the council to account.

The trees

Michael Payton QC (Hon), Bisham Gardens, Highgate, writes:

I find the controversy about the planting of trees in the grounds of Thames Water Board in The Grove somewhat surprising.  

I have lived nearby for the best part of 45 years during which time (as best I recollect) that land has remained idle, under grass, with a small number of trees near its perimeter. Now, Dream for Trees have had the enterprise and initiative to plant clusters of trees there. Good for them – and equally for the Thames Water Board for having, quite rightly, embraced the project as one of ecological significance.

If those now sniping at what has been done had tried to achieve anything on the site themselves, one might have some sympathy. They, one supposes, would have been content to see out another 45 years of inactivity.

Let us all hope this happy partnership between Dream for Trees and Thames Water find many other sites for similar tree plantations.

Streatery

Belsize Village's streatery where customers are being served alfresco. Picture: Belsize Village Busi

Belsize Village's streatery where customers are being served alfresco. Picture: Belsize Village Business Association - Credit: Archant

Belsize Village Business Association (BVBA)Admiral Property, Belsize Organic, BodyMatters Clinic, Bourne’s Fishmongers, Brod Wight Architects, Calici, Charro de Rio, Ergotec Physiotherapy, Fine Art Consultancy, Hazara, Hazel Collins Design, Heywoods Estate Agents, Oliver’s Village Café, OmniDe, Retsina, Roni’s, PropertyTime, Penrose Care, Physio Ed Medical, Pivoine Nail Spa, Pyra mid Dry Cleaners, Tahera, TETA’s, Village Pharmacy and XUL Architecture – write:

In the last year, Belsize Village has been transformed thanks to businesses and residents working hand in hand. This renaissance can be traced back to the foundation of the Belsize Village Business Association (BVBA) in 2018. The BVBA is a voluntary organisation made up of local businesses. Members are not charged fees, it is run by volunteers, and its sole purpose is to promote and improve Belsize Village. 

Last summer, with funding from local councillors and incredible resident volunteer power, the BVBA created a beautiful space for the whole community. This culminated in the fantastically successful Streatery, which helped save several businesses and over 100 local jobs. 

We plan to relaunch the Streatery on April 13, 2021, following overwhelming support from our community noted in multiple consultations. 

Historically, Belsize Village has been marred by multiple closed shops, but through the collective efforts of the BVBA and the community, Belsize Village will soon celebrate having no vacancies for the first time in recent memory. 

The BVBA also aims to make Belsize Village the cleanest town centre in Camden. For over 10 years, a large recurring rubbish mound had sat atop the village square, blighting Belsize Village and deterring footfall. 

The BVBA working closely with the community to remove the rubbish mound, jet-washed the pavement, and installed new garden planters – adding beauty and security to the village square. 

Further, a communal commercial waste collection was created with four bins that are emptied twice daily. These bins, although not perfect, have helped end the problem of foxes tearing the bags and leaving the streets strewn with rubbish. Our original clean-up has been followed by ongoing litter reduction campaigns and volunteer litter pickups. 

The importance of this community-wide teamwork has been demonstrated in recent weeks. 

When roadworks stopped routine waste collections happening, the old fly-tipping problems resumed. But thanks to proactivity by community volunteers and a direct relationship with First Mile through BVBA, the problem was brought under control and the streets have now returned to being clean. 

Under the old approach, similar issues would persist for weeks or months. 
We are proud of Belsize Village’s revitalisation, as is most of our community. As local businesses, we are grateful to residents for their support and fully endorse the BVBA’s efforts to make Belsize Village the most attractive town centre in the borough. 

The woods

Lucy Roots, Friends of Queen’s Wood, writes: 

I agree that local ancient woods have suffered a double blow this year with increased use and effects of social distancing plus the cold wet weather. 

In Queen’s Wood many of the paths have been widened from two metres to five metres in places with the resulting erosion and compaction of soil round mature trees damaging their roots systems. The wood anemones, for which this wood is famous and which grow along the edges of paths, are not appearing this year and may have been permanently damaged.

Clare James mentions park rangers but there are none in Queen’s Wood which is owned by Haringey Council and not the City of London. All the work of preserving paths, pools and conservation areas is done by volunteers and these have only been able to meet in twos, or not at all during lockdown.

Sanitiser

James Cowling, secretary, Haringey over 50s Forum, writes:

As the country marks one year of the Covid-19 pandemic, we see hand sanitiser in most places. But in one place it seems to be nowhere in sight.

Recently, members of the Haringey over 50s Forum noticed that there was no hand sanitiser when going into their post office and it was something they wanted the Forum to look into because, as they said, every business should be doing its part during the pandemic. In one case, a member was even told to go and buy her own when she asked if any was available.

As secretary, I decided to find out why post offices did not have hand sanitiser, with the backing of the Hornsey Pensioners Action Group and the Tottenham Pensioners Action Group.

Unfortunately, I haven’t got to the bottom of it yet and what I have found out has been more than disappointing. Before I sent my first email I went to three post offices in Haringey and there was no hand sanitiser available when I entered any of the shops. When I asked a staff member, he said they are not provided with any hand sanitiser for customers and that the only support they have received from Post Office Ltd was at the beginning of the crisis. I was shocked.

I first contacted Royal Mail. It fobbed me off to Post Office Ltd who in turn, passed the buck, and said it was their local franchisees responsibility, washing its hands of the issue.

When I contacted Post Office Ltd I asked if it was an oversight as it should be putting the health and safety of its customers first. I said that it was very strange times and I would expect that a big business like that post office would play its part. I asked if Post Office Ltd would re-evaluate its decision.

In the first reply I received there was no reference to hand sanitiser for customers. Cathryn, a customer services advisor, said: “We remain committed to providing essential services to our communities whilst keeping our colleagues and customers safe.” 

What exactly does that mean?

In a second reply after stating that none of my customer concerns had been addressed, Cathryn said: “We supply directly managed branches such as Crown Post Office branches, but Postmasters and Strategic Partners (Co-op, WHS and franchises) are responsible for PPE and hygiene measures in-branch.” 

Once again, no mention of hand sanitiser for customers.

In a third try, Cathryn said, “I can understand your frustration, however I can only reiterate that the majority of Post Offices are run by independent businesses, rather than by Post Office Ltd directly and whilst many stores with a Post Office do provide customers with hand sanitiser, it’s the store owner’s decision to provide this. I’m sure you will also be aware that many customers will be following government guidance using their own sanitiser and hand wipes before entering premises to maintain good hand hygiene.”

I was astonished. It shouldn’t be store owners who decide whether or not to provide hand sanitiser, it should be Post Office Ltd telling them to. I have since contacted Age UK London, the Greater London Forum, Catherine West MP and David Lammy MP.

Mr Lammy has sent an email to Post Office Ltd. A statement from his office states, “We can confirm that David has now written to the Post Office to ask that they ensure that hand sanitiser is available for customers in each Post Office franchise. He has made it clear that it is not acceptable for the Post Office to not hold their franchises to high cleanliness standards, especially in the middle of a pandemic.”

We are waiting for a reply

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