Monday, 14 July 2014

Summer fun and a very tall story!

Of the many events this summer, the Jester is always one of our favourites. This year the weather looked unpromising but actually was kind to us. One comment was made as to why we didn't hold it in May because there was less competition then, and it's a simple answer - because the weather in May is even more unreliable than it is in July - even if we do compete with the final weekend of Wimbledon! Undaunted by the recent election results, the Lib Dems held their usual successful cake stall (thanks to all contributors)and managed to cope somewhat short-handed as many of us were participating on the Saturday with the wedding celebrations of Russell Eagling and Ed Fordham who were both, for obvious reasons, missing from the line-up on the stall for the whole weekend!

The Council have now produced their plans for the new school and housing next to the railway lines on the industrial site on Liddell Road (off Maygrove Road)by the railway line. We always thought the scheme was flawed because it featured a split site expansion of Kingsgate school in Kilburn, and would throw off all the businesses currently on site in favour of housing. However, the latest version of the plans have surprised and horrified many local residents.

Because the Labour Council intends to make a huge profit on the site as well as paying for the school, it will sell most of the site on to a private developer. The scheme currently includes a planned 14 storey tower block of private housing, and, against Camden’s own policies, will provide no affordable housing whatsoever. Our new Labour councillors are facing their first big challenge of serious local opposition to this massive new scheme. So what will our new Labour councillors do? Will they simply toe the Labour Town Hall party line or will they join with local people in opposing this new assault on the character of our area?

Looking west - Maygrove Road runs up the centre of the picture
and in the top right is the bottom of Sumatra Road

Camden are holding various drop in events on the plan:
Tuesday 19 July
9am-12pm at Sidings Community Centre
1pm-4pm in West Hampstead Community Centre,Dornfell St
6.30pm-8.30pm at Sidings Community Centre
Wednesday 16 July
5pm to 8pm at West Hampstead Library, Dennington Park Road.
Also there is a meeting on Tuesday 22nd July at 7pm at Sidings Community Centre, to discuss the planning application.
For more information you can contact us or go to

Friday, 27 June 2014

And still the traffic chaos goes on!

It was worse than ever this week when they turned it all around in Mill lane again, but at least there re some traffic signs further out (as requested by Flick Rea) which warn people driving into the area. Now, it has been announced there will be work further down Kilburn High Road and just today, we received this message below so be warned!! Maybe by Christmas we'll all be able to travel around West Hampstead and Kilburn without people coming to blows!

A5 SHOOT-UP HILL – MAPESBURY ROAD – MILL LANE Traffic Signals Modernisation 2014
Transport for London (TfL) has appointed ConwayAecom to carry out traffic signal modernisation at the junctions of:
 A5 Kilburn High Road – Iverson Road – Cavendish Road,
 A5 Kilburn High Road - Shoot-Up Hill – Maygrove Road – Christchurch Avenue, and
 A5 Shoot-Up Hill – Mapesbury Road – Mill Lane – Edgware Road.

Why are we doing this work?
The objective of this scheme is to modernise the traffic signal equipment at the junctions. This is an essential works to maintain an acceptable standard of equipment on street, and to maintain the efficient and reliable operation of the traffic signals throughout London.
What times will the work take place?
The work will start on Monday 21 July to Friday 12 September 2014, or until the work is completed.
TfL in agreement with the London Boroughs of Brent/ Camden, the working hours will be from 08:00 to 18:00 for weekday works with no obstruction to the carriageway and 10:00 to 15:00 on weekdays with traffic management on the carriageway. Side roads; will be closed 24/7 with no access to the A5.
What we would like you to know
We must balance possible disruption to residents with disruption to traffic. Working at the weekdays with traffic management exclusively on off-peak hours provides us with the best chance to complete these works as quickly as possible, with as little disruption as possible.
We will make every effort to complete all traffic signal modernisation works during day time hours allowing pedestrian movement where possible.
Side roads Christchurch Avenue, Mapesbury Road, Iverson Road, Cavendish Road, Mill Lane, and Maygrove Road will be closed to aid works and reduce congestion on the A5. Access and egress to properties will be maintained, however there will be no through access to the A5.
Keeping London moving
Transport for London is firmly committed to minimising disruption. We have worked closely with our contractor, ConwayAecom and the London Borough of Brent and London Borough of Camden in order to reduce the impact of these works on road users, local residents and businesses as far as possible.
I hope you will appreciate that a certain level of disruption is inevitable, and I apologise in advance for any inconvenience that may be caused as a result of these essential works. Should you require further information or an update during the delivery of these works please contact our Streets Customer Services department on 0343 222 1234 email: or via the web at
Yours faithfully,

Chris Hall
Consultation Team
Transport for London

Friday, 6 June 2014

Newly single

I have been asked how it feels to be the lone Lib Dem Councillor in Fortune Green – or in Camden for that matter! Which is a bit like asking someone how they felt when their whole family went down in the Titanic! I actually think it's like a relationship break-up - with all the pain and re-adjustment it takes to get back to an ordinary normal life. It's a sort of bereavement! Accompanied by survivor guilt!

But it helps to talk about it actually. And I have been enormously cheered by some of the nice things people have said and written to me - thank you. I promise I will continue to work with our local Spotlight team for the benefit of all residents in Fortune Green. As well as working in co-operation with my two new Labour colleagues who will have a taxing time ahead of them.

Meanwhile, I have only visited the Town Hall twice since the Elections on May 22nd. Once was for the formal “signing-in ceremony” with the Chief Executive, and once was to support a local resident in an interview with the Housing Department. Although I have spent a lot of time on emails and phone calls!

Single Councillors are virtually “non-persons” down in Euston Road - they have no rights because they’re not a “group”. For instance, I have no choice of committee places, nor where to sit in the Council chamber, nor a private place to go, nor even any speaking rights.

Not only is this a somewhat lonely position, it takes me back to beyond where I was 28 years ago, when at least there were two of us! But although I am older than I was then, I am wiser in the ways of the Council and don’t need to fight everything and everybody on every occasion. So I shall concentrate my energies on continuing to fight for Fortune Green residents with the help of the local “Spotlight” team and meanwhile try not to get run over by a bus!

Meanwhile - local problems don't just go away - there are countless issues from the traffic nightmares in Mill Lane to the un-neighbourly behaviour of various commercial enterprises in Fortune Green Road and a host of other things - a request to get our Mill Lane Bridge repainted to working on the Jester Festival, from repair and parking problems to the utter impossibility of dealing with "Contact Camden" . (I had to try FIVE times to pay my Council Tax bill today - so heaven help people trying to renew residents parking permits!)

Still the sun is shining today - so let's keep our fingers crossed for better times ahead!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Thoughts on a wet Bank Holiday

This is a picture taken on a happier, sunnier day than today but I've put it in to cheer myself up!

First, this is a huge "thank you" to all the lovely people in Fortune Green, West Hampstead and Cricklewood who gave us their support in the Elections last week and who have loyally supported the local “Spotlight” Lib Dems over so many years - you know who you are! Although I am encouraged and grateful for my re-election, I am devastated that so many of my council colleagues like Nancy Jirira and Keith Moffitt have not been as successful. They have been excellent, hardworking councillors who have done an amazing amount for West Hampstead and Fortune Green for many years (in Keith's case - for 20) and we should always be grateful for their dedication. Being a Councillor is time-consuming, poorly paid unless you are a "Cabinet member", and, sometimes, just sheer hard slog! But certainly my local Lib Dem colleagues have done it for the best of all reasons - that they love this area and have ambitions to make it even more special, and also to help local residents in their too-frequent battles with Camden Council. They were great Councillors and will all be a hard act to follow!
Secondly, to everyone who has hinted, or even asked outright, reports of my standing down are wildly exaggerated! I have the experience of my many years as your Councillor and my knowledge of how the Council works to put at your disposal and enough energy and enthusiasm to continue to do so.. I will still be a strong voice for Fortune Green and will stand up for you at the Town Hall and I will shout if necessary! We must never again lapse into the forgotten corner of the Borough just because we are so far from Kings Cross and Euston Road. This was the main reason I came into local politics in the first place and the main reason I stay. Thank you for enabling me to do so!
Finally - as ever there is lots to be done - issues of parking and local traffic, our often filthy streets and a new general feeling of unsafeness since the police cuts made by the Tory Mayor. There are individual cases to take up, the poor treatment of leaseholders, the dreadful repairs service for tenants, overcrowded housing, noise nuisance and, always planning issues.
Please get in touch by emailing me on, or contacting me by phone on 020 7794 8454 and leaving a message if I’m not there. I will be restarting regular advice surgeries again in a couple of weeks and will publish the details.
So, once again, a big "Thank You".
Flick Rea
Liberal Democrat Councillor for Fortune Green

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The misfortunes of Fortune Green

Illegal parking on double yellows by Capital City

Illegal double yellow parking outside Monte Cristo
The area close to Fortune Green itself has been the source of much trouble and aggravation recently. After the Council took the decision NOT to change parking hours, attention has fociussed on the need to maximise the number of parking spaces available. There are currently several disabled redundant parking bays and the unused car club bay at the junction of Ajax and Achilles Road but the Council, who have been informed of these over several months has now said they can take no action until after the Council Elections on May 22. They are not allowed to carry out consultations during “purdah” (the period before the elections). But we are pressing for an early start to this –May 23rd would be a good day!

There are two other factors which are affecting the issue – one is the unneighbourly behaviour of Capital City Motorbikes who park/sell/repair motorbikes all over the road and footway at the end of Achilles Road and park their vans at will in adjacent streets. The Council is now investigating this. The second is the new “shisha café” Montecristo. (Like Capital City – it has, currently no planning permission to operate although their application is currently with Camden for decision and their trading operation is also being investigated -) Their major offence recently is that their customers have been parking outside on double yellow lines every evening on Fortune Green Road and Burrard Road, seriously impeding traffic and buses and in open contempt of traffic regulations. We persuaded Camden to send parking enforcement officers to take a look and for at least two nights the yellow lines have been clear – long may it last!


Fortune Green – There has recently been what, in Fortune Green Ward terms, is a local crime wave. (Our figures are normally one of the lowest in Camden) We’ve seen a mugging, shop break–ins , car damage etc! This is obviously not specifically related to the Green – however, we are getting complaints about groups of young people breaking into to play football at night in the Play centre and reports of groups of “undesirables” hanging around on the Green – particularly near the top where it adjoins the cemetery. Recently, even after recent work to the lighting, one of the lamps at the top by the Play Centre was out and we have specifically asked for the lighting to be upgraded and increased on the Green. Unfortunately, with the Safer Neighbourhood Team being severely reduced by the Mayor, the police cannot keep an eye on it as much as they did and we are now getting regular comments and complaints from residents that the Green feels unsafe. We’ve requested an early site meeting with Camden officers in charge of the Green.

For local news and year-round action - please support your local Lib Dem team - Flick, Nick and Nancy at the Council Elections on May 22nd! And remember to vote Liberal Democrat in the European elections on the same day.

Published and promoted on behalf of the Liberal Democrats by S. Drage at Unit 1 Streatham Business Centre, London, SW16 2ED. Printed by Conrad Print Society and published and promoted by E. Watson on behalf of Flick Rea, Nick Russell and Nancy Jirira(Liberal Democats) all at 242 Webheath Community Workshops, Netherwood Street, London, NW6 2JX

Traffic problems and Building works

Flick Rea inspecting the preparations the day before the closure
  Road Closures – For the second time in just a few weeks, local traffic was in more than its usual chaos by reason of road closures. Now we all understand that from time to time, necessary works have to take place. It just seems that we get more than our fair share. And it seems no-one seems to give thought to notifying early enough - let alone consulting with local groups and local ward Councillors. At least the recent closure of Maygrove Road finished promptly but just as we'd got used to a clear route to Kilburn again - we received another "whammy". This time it was Mill Lane's turn.
Traffic chaos on Mill Lane as seen
from Nick Russell's flat in Ellerton

Notices went up overnight and , once again, no prior notification or consultation to local groups or councillors. And furthermore it caused total chaos as everyone went back to work and school after the Bank Holiday.

We have told Camden in the stongest possible terms that this is sloppy procedure and extremely discourteous and shows the contempt in which the Council seems to hold its residents.

Building works
(1) The new “post office in a church” at St James, Sherriff Road is coming on apace and should be open mid July!
Fr Andrew Cain saw me taking a picture of the muddy patch outside and invited me in where it’s already beginning to look amazing. There will be the post office counters, a café, a stationery shop, a meeting place area and a fabulous soft play area for young children. Top marks for an imaginative and exciting development and to Fr Cain for his determination to get this project up and running. Fortunately these works are NOT stopping traffic!

Building works (2) The new development at the old Handrail House on Maygrove Road (that caused the closure of Maygrove Road while they installed a new sewer) is still at the demolition stage (PIC) and they have cut down a number of trees making the area rather bleak, although the big ones on the Peace Park are safe. The developers have promised to plant new trees.

For local news and year-round action - please support your local Lib Dem team - Flick, Nick and Nancy at the Council Elections on May 22nd! And remember to vote Liberal Democrat in the European elections on the same day.

Published and promoted on behalf of the Liberal Democrats by S. Drage at Unit 1 Streatham Business Centre, London, SW16 2ED. Printed by Conrad Print Society and published and promoted by E. Watson on behalf of Flick Rea, Nick Russell and Nancy Jirira(Liberal Democats) all at 242 Webheath Community Workshops, Netherwood Street, London, NW6 2JX

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Rubbish - top of the heap!

Nick Russell is fed up with flytipping!
 We’d like to thank everyone who responded to our recent residents' survey and thought we’d like to share the results. To no-one’s surprise your two biggest issues are firstly, a variety of complaints about litter, dumping and the general state of our environment and secondly, traffic and parking. These are the issues raised most frequently on the doorstep as we speak to local residents.

Interestingly, there’s no real consensus on the general standard of street cleaning. It seems to depend on exactly where you live – some roads are obviously better than others! But we weren’t surprised at the mention of one or two "hotspots", such as near the recycling bins, outside shops and everyone's bête noire - the Black Path at the bottom of Broomsleigh Street.
A specific issue was dog dirt, with reference to the lack of special "dog bins". (It appears the Council is now not installing these bins and requests dog owners to "scoop it and bin it" in an ordinary litter bin - not that this seems to help with persistent offenders! )

On the specific issue of computerised visitors parking “e-permits” - a huge majority watraffic and parking and, secondly,nted to stay with scratchcards for as long as possible and some people even underlined this and repeated "No, never"!

Individual comments were many and varied and ranged from complaints about the new Shisha cafe in Fortune Green Road to a request for clear warning on recycling arrangements over Bank holidays. They also covered complaints about the traffic lights at the junction of Finchley Road and Fortune Green Road, the need for a lift at Finchley Road tube station and the appalling deficiencies of the Council's "customer service" telephone arrangements.

Nationally, we were pleased to find out that so many of you understood that it was the Liberal Democrats in government who were responsible for the £700 tax cut, putting money back into our pockets; that by and large you approved of the "pupil premium" (currently £900 for every child on free school meals paid directly to schools); and that you support our campaign to increase jobs and apprenticeships.
We’ve taken note of all your individual concerns and will continue to work hard for local improvements all year round.
Best wishes,
The Fortune Green Liberal Democrat Team - Flick, Nick and Nancy
Flick Rea 020 7431 6753
Nick Russell 07901 815362
Nancy Jirira 020 7433 0787