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

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Parking survey - the result

The results of the parking survey across Fortune Green and West Hampstead which took place last autumn have now been announced by Camden Council. There was a response rate of 13.9% which doesn't seem high when there are such strong views about parking in parts of our area.
The overall results were about two to one "satisfied" with current parking hours but this varied considerably across the three zones. Hardly anyone was keen on an extension of weekend hours, but it's clear that there was a clear area of disagreement in one area in particular.
The report says:
On a street by street basis, a small number of streets located in the east of the CA-P(c) subzone returned higher numbers in favour of extended hours of control during the week. Specifically, these are: Achilles Road, Ulysses Road and Aldred Road. These results are very similar to those of the consultation held in the CA-P zone in 2008/2009, where a majority were in favour of the status quo, but residents in the above roads were in favour of extending the hours of control."
The report goes on to discuss making a "mini-zone" or extending the full day controls of CA-P(a) into CA-P(c) but recommends finally:
"6.15 Overall, whilst there is some interest in making changes to the hours of control in CA-P(c) it is difficult to justify implementing the changes given that in most cases, those wanting change are not in the majority. The current split in hours treats the whole “Greek Streets” area as a single area, which is geographically easily comprehensible to all. Any changes made would be to a small concentration of streets, which would result in a further layer of complexity on street. This is not conducive to a coherent and easily comprehensible experience for all road users and is contrary to the objective of the Parking Policy Review to simplify the parking regime on-street for all parking users.
6.16 While it is recognised that those who desire longer hours feel very strongly on the issue, it is not considered that this should be carried through based on the context of majority opposition to change from the wider coherent area. Therefore, for these reasons, it is not advisable to extend the CA-P(a) boundary to cover those streets where the majority of residents wanted longer hours."

This report which can be read in full with all the figures at:
will be considered and decided upon at a meeting on 18th March at 5pm, at the Town Hall in Committee Room 2. The decsion will be taken by the Cabinet member for Sustainability, Planning and Transport and, at our insistence, will be a public meeting so anyone can attend. Anyone wishing to speak should contact the Committee Clerk, by 5pm on Friday. Or you could email the Cabinet Member Phil Jones.

This is a recommendation which will infuriate all those who have been campaigning for a better deal for parking for residents in their street, even while others will be happy with no change. It now falls to us to make sure we can maximise the amount of spaces in this area which are available. This means reviewing yellow lines, removing unused disabled and car club bays and removing other intrusive and illegal parking. Your local councillors will make this a priority.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Good news for North-West London!

Absolutely delighted today to hear of a very large spanner in the works as far as Barnet's proposals for the Brent Cross development! Many congratulations to the " Coalition for a Sustainable Brent Cross Cricklewood campaign! We could be saved huge increases in traffic up here on the North -West frontier of Camden! Let's hope this very large spanner (aka Secretary of State Eric Pickles) does the trick and forces Barnet and their development partners to come up with more modest and sensible schemes!

Here is the Coalition's press release:

PRESS RELEASE Tuesday 4th March 2014
The Coalition for a Sustainable Brent Cross Cricklewood development is celebrating the shock news that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, has issued an Article 25 so-called “stop notice” preventing Barnet council from granting planning permission, entering into any agreement or passing any resolution that could influence the site’s planning status without ministerial authorisation.
Coalition member Lia Colacicco said “I had to pinch myself when I saw the email. Since 2010 the presumption has been to pass everything, so this was a welcome surprise. Many of us wrote to Eric Pickles asking him to call in BXC for a public inquiry given its impact for miles around– and our MP Sarah Teather and Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, also wrote regarding the disbenefits to Brent which have been ignored. We mentioned irregularities in the process, public transport, TfL’s objections, the loss of Cricklewood’s only green space and other green spaces in the wider area, and the selective use of transport assessments. But above all the impact on the surrounding areas, particularly the 29,000 extra cars a day.
“We deplore the loss of the promised street layout in this new 'town centre', and its last-minute replacement by a bog-standard indoor shopping centre. We also are horrified by the 'secret' new basement voids, that can be quietly turned over to yet another three layers of car parking.
”We have been calling this a dinosaur development because it was conceived in the 1990s - and it shows. There is nothing exciting, visionary or futuristic about it, only basic sustainability measures – just the highest density most profitable option. North Londoners deserve something exceptional. This is a huge victory for us and our dream of a public inquiry is one step closer.
The group are now hoping that the Secretary of State will reject the recent amendments and call a Public Inquiry. The group is at pains to point out that they are pro regeneration, and pro new homes but against the recent amendments and the missed opportunity to spend some of the £200m planning gain money on better public transport, including possibly light-rail (trams or DLR) for the area.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Spring stirrings around Fortune Green

We may have had a dreadful wet and windy winter but at least the first daffodils are appearing on Fortune Green! The Green itself – already soaking wet and more like a swamp was not improved recently when Council workmen dug up great stretches of it to relay the electric cables. Feeling somewhat guilty now for reporting most of the lights were out and nagging the Council to do something about it! We’ve also taken up the issue of poor lighting generally around the Green which may have been a factor in a recent mugging in Ajax Road. Considering Fortune Green has one of the lowest crime rates in London, we are all hoping this was a one-off! Its certainly the first that most of us can remember for years!
There is news of a possible planning application for “Unit 5” in the Sager building on Fortune Green Road. Since the withdrawal of the horrendous planning application for the Abercorn School in the Sager building, a new “school” application is likely to be made. However, this would only occupy one unit, and won’t have a couple of hundred schoolchildren! It is a psychotherapy school with a maximum of 40 adult students likely to be there at any one time - unlikely to generate the huge amounts of traffic and extra parking which were major flaws in the previous scheme.

It seems the report on our long awaited parking review will be published on Camden’s website this week and a decision on the results will be taken by Cabinet member Phil Jones on 18th March at We have requested this meeting to be in public so anyone wanting to comment can go along.

We are also still chasing up the problems caused by Capital City Motorbikes, but it’s a long business involving planning, traffic and other officers so don’t expect a quick result!

Some of you have contacted us about the new “shisha” café at the corner of Burrard Road. This is currently operating without planning permission and we’ve asked Camden officers to investigate.

It’s being a busy February!
Best wishes,
Flick, Nick and Nancy

The local Lib Dem Spotlight team

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Tuesday 27th January saw a packed meeting at West Hampstead Library discussing the latest draft of our Neighbourhood Development Plan. (for more info go to the website: )
This plan been written by people who work or live in West Hampstead for those who work and live here and suggests guidelines and planning policies for our future.

There was time for plenty of questions but overall the Plan received a positive reaction. It is still out for consultation until 28th February before it sets off on the long process to formal adoption.

Among the speakers was Councillor Flick Rea who had been asked to talk about the history of planning and West Hampstead and the good reasons for having a Neighbourhood Plan.

“ I first lived in West Hampstead over 50 years ago and have represented Fortune Green as a Councillor since 1986. I have been in my present home for over 40 years and my children and later grandchildren were brought up here and went to local schools.

I am passionate about West Hampstead and Fortune Green and like to think I have played a small part in its past, its present and hopefully its future.

Which is why we are here tonight.

Two years ago, learning of the new powers in the Localism Bill, my fellow Councillor Keith Moffitt and I decided the idea of a Neighbourhood Plan was something we should enthusiastically adopt if we could find some people to do it. So we called a public meeting to see if enough people would be interested, and to our great pleasure there were! A steering group was formed to explore the idea and 2 years later – here we are!!

I’d like to pay tribute to all the hard work that has gone into this, involving scores of people but primarily the committee and the indefatigable Chair, James Earl – I doubt if anyone else would have had the determination, dedication and patience to put this together over the last 2 years. Thank you!

This plan helps to achieve something I was determined to do when I first wanted to become a Councillor all those years ago - to stand up for West Hampstead, in particular to take on the powerful Council Planning Department. I always felt they were trying to impose borough- wide policies from the fastness of the Town Hall in Euston Rd which had little or no relevance to areas like West Hampstead.

Over the years there have been some successes - we obliged Camden to set up a Consultation Group especially for this area. It met regularly, drafted guidelines for local design and for the preservation of shopfronts in West End Lane. We also commented on local planning application often at an early stage and inputted early on into various drafts. Another early local success was the setting up of the West End Green Conservation Area – largely inspired by developments taking place by West Hampstead Mews.

Over the years locally people have battled over the “interchange” now the “Growth Area” down by the stations. Originally a gleam in Ken Livingstone’s eye when Mayor of London, the present Mayor happily endorsed it and we are now stuck with it. The area is scheduled to have 500 new homes and 100 jobs (though there is more sign of the former than the latter at present.) But there are still those seeking to amelioriate its effects and this draft NDP carries on that tradition.

If it sounds as if planning is a constant battle – then yes it is – developers are unrelenting and will try and try again – look at Gondar Gardens… or even the many applications and appeals re the buildings along Mill Lane, the last of which was turned down by the Council only last week. And we are now facing new battles as everyone seeks to enlarge their properties and the Hampstead basement curse has arrived!

That said, it’s not all about holding back the flood – people change, places change and West Hampstead has definitely changed! West End Lane was once home to four butchers with another on Mill Lane and, (within living memory- though not mine,) one in Fortune Green Road. The only places for a cuppa were the Bridge café (still defiantly unchanged) and Wendy’s Wimpy Bar (long gone). There were two Chinese and one Indian restaurant, the Black Lion, the Railway and the Alliance, (albeit briefly the Rat and Carrot, Rat and Parrot and Slug and Lettuce) there was also the Prince of Wales where the Sager building (another planning battle lost on appeal) is now.

But West Hampstead is a different place now with its sushi bars and shisha cafes, wine bars and café society. But we mustn’t regret the past – West End Lane is still special with attractions like the book shop and the Wet Fish café (formerly the local fishmongers!) and a new Waitrose will be welcome. Is this the beginning of the upmarketing of West End Lane? I rather suspect not – I think West Hampstead will always retain its quirky independence – a place where a former Hampstead resident who had moved down the hill told me: “My dear – I love it here - you don’t have to put your make up on before going out to buy your Independent in the morning”!

Long live West Hampstead!”

Monday, 27 January 2014

Shock to Maygrove Road Residents and potential chaos!

Residents in Maygrove Road were horrified when they got a letter last Wednesday from the developers of Handrail House saying their road was to be totally blocked to traffic for three months starting the following Monday(27th) to allow them to put in a new sewer. This came as a great surprise to everyone, not least your local councillors both from Fortune Green and West Hampstead. Also residents of neighbouring streets and the local Sidings Community Centre had not been notified. We think this was an appalling failure of communication from both the developers and Camden Council. At present we're trying to find out who was to blame!

What does this road closure mean? All parking will be suspended, and there will be no road access between Ariel Road and Handrail House although the pavement on one side will remain open. But there should be area-wide signs warning of the closure as Maygrove Road(along with Iverson Road) is a major through route from Kilburn High Road. Traffic chaos - at least for the first few days - is likely to be the result.

Sue Measures, the manager of the popular local Sidings Community Centre, is furious as the developers promised to work with local people to minimise problems during the development. Many of those who attend the classes and events as well as the nursery are very concerned that their day-to-day access will be more difficult and the Centre has had to send out a large number of urgent notices to users and local residents.

There have already been lots of complaints about this and the shortness of notice, so it seems the developers have agreed to hold off till later this week but we don't think that'll do much to help. Councillor Flick Rea says : " This work may well be essential but I am asking Camden to explain why it will take three months - surely it could be done more quickly? Also why were so few people consulted - especially ward councillors so we could have got a warning out to residents? This is deeply unsatisfactory and shows the low degree of care for local residents!"

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Request to reconsider the development of Liddell Road site refused

On Tuesday 21st January a Special meeting of the Council's Childrens, Families and Schools Scrutiny was held to consider a Call In request by West Hampstead Councillors that the Cabinet decision to develop the Liddell Road site to accommodate an expanded Kingsgate School to be funded by the sale of 140 flats and business space. The Ward Councillors John Bryant and Gillian Risso-Gill were supported by three deputations and an audience of concerned local residents.

John Bryant presented the Education case (that should have been the main concern to the CSF Scrutiny):
- No education arguments have been presented by Officers to justify the current proposal for a split school site other than expanding an existing Outstanding School. Alternative solutions to provide extra school places in NW Camden, such as a free school or academy (where Government funding would have been available) have not been considered.
- The move to a 4-form entry from the originally proposed 2 form entry is a recent addition to the proposal for the Liddell Road site without consideration whether the existing Kingsgate site would be able to accommodate 4-form year groups.
- The move from a 2-form to a 4-form entry carries risks however good the current management might be and particularly on split sites.
-Children in all age primary schools gain benefit of having children of different age groups as part of their school community. This would not be possible in a split site school.
-The examples provided by Officers of split school sites in other areas, eg Emmanuel School were not comparable to the proposals for Kingsgate School since all the sites were on the same road.
-If the Council proceed with selling market homes on the site, there will be an estimated profit of £3 million.
- Since the Cabinet decision, the Council has been awarded £6.7 million from the Government to fund new school places. This would mean that the need to fund a new school or expand an existing one by selling market homes would not be needed. Nor would the need to displace the existing businesses as the site is large enough could accommodate both businesses and a school.

James Earl, Chair of the Neighbourhood Development Forum argued that:
- The plan to remove all the existing 25 businesses, resulting in loss of jobs, was against Camden Planning Policies and questioned the suitability of the site for the uses proposed
- The Consultation process was flawed with a very low response rate and the views of local groups had not been included.
- A co-sited school, with sites a walking distance of a mile apart would not be acceptable

Sue Measures, Manager of Sidings Community Centre and Elizabeth Pearson, mother of two toddlers argued:
- The practical and logistical issues for parents of having children at two sites
- The travel issues to Liddell Road and presented photos of pedestrian congestion that morning at the West Hampstead Interchange that parents would have to contend with
- The loss of early years provision in central Kilburn, currently provided at Kingsgate but if moved to the new site would be adjacent to the existing provision at Sidings.
- The consultation with parents was inadequate and misleading, leading to a low response rate

Branko Viric led a deputation of 3 businesses currently trading on Liddell Road
- The proposal will lead to the closure of 25 businesses, many that are unable to afford to move,the loss of jobs, services to local residents, and the loss of rent and business revenue to the Council.
- The businesses will no longer be able to offer apprenticeships to local residents.
- There has been no meaningful consultation or discussion with the businesses by the Council, other than the setting up of an online portal.
- There are no suitable premises available or affordable for the displaced light industrial businesses within Camden . The nearest potential space is in Tottenham, so the local customer base would be lost.
- Alternative sites for a new school in West Hampstead have not been fully explored, eg. 156 West End Lane.
- The pedestrian route between Kingsgate School and Liddell Road along narrow pavements that cannot be widened could be dangerous to young children and parents with buggies.
- The low response rate on the Council's flawed consultation demonstrates a lack of support or awareness.

Cllr Gillian Risso-Gill supported all the above and argued:
- Many of the families whose children currently attend Kingsgate live in the social housing estates around Abbey Road in South Kilburn. Many travel to school by bus with a short walk to the Kingsgate School. There are no bus routes serving the new site and journey times would double by bus and congested pavements through rush hour. This may not be acceptable to parents with toddlers. They may not be in the catchment area of the new school. The only alternative schools would be St. Mary's or St. Eugene de Mazenod, both faith schools and over subscribed.
- Six employment sites have already been lost in West Hampstead recently for housing development which has impacted the local weekday economy.
- No consideration has yet been given to the new housing developments of 380 homes that are under construction in the immediate vicinity of the proposed site in West Hampstead Square, Iverson and Maygrove Roads which will put additional strain on local services as well as traffic and pedestrian routes.
- The proposal for new employment on the new site would not be suitable for the existing light industrial businesses. The new employment space proposed would be office based and may not be attractive to businesses due to Camden's insistence on car-free developments.