I make an informal, private visit to Red Gables. Red Gables is the wonderful, wonderful, family centre in Crouch End – organically evolved over years to provide what users want. And between the Labour Government and the Labour Council they want to close it and devolve its services to elsewhere. This comes on the back of Government funding for 18 new childrens’ centres across the borough. Sounds great – except the new centres can only be in ‘deprived’ areas – but there are lots of pockets of deprivation in the Crouch End area and it serves the whole area. ‘Deprived’ children come to this centre of absolute excellence. The services it provides are too many to list – but all manner of challenges are met and met well.
Given there are to be 18 ‘new’ centres – which in reality are not new but bits of other services cobbled together – you would think the logical answer would be to make Red Gables one of them, solving at a stroke the whole business.
Anyway – I meet the staff (who are obviously desperate for the place to stay open). They clearly love their work, the place and its achievements. There is a ‘consultation’ going on by Haringey Council with the users as a result of the huge protest and campaign to save Red Gables. The consultation is with users, and when completed next week we are told that the officers will analyse the data and then advise the Council Executive (all Labour) what to do.
I spend a little time with the children and mums just arriving for the drop in playgroup and then off I go.
At 4pm CNN come to my house to do an interview on terrorism and the Government’s continual curbing of our civil liberties are being raided. Now you can’t even say that Jack Straw is talking nonsense without being forcibly removed and then the police using Section 44 of the terrorism Act to stop you re-entering a building. Free speech – certainly not under Blair!
In the evening, there’s a Buffet, tour and presentation by the Community Partnership Board for the proposals (thus far) for the Hornsey Town Hall. It’s certainly moving in the right direction and the people involved in the panel are completely committed to the project’s success – but as ever – the proof of the pudding will come when we learn where the funding will come from (i.e. how much from development and how much from public funds) and whether the Council is willing at the end of this process for the whole caboodle to be handed over to an independent community trust – which is the Lib Dem position (along with that of many other people).
Sadly and ironically, I get to talk to people for an hour and then have to leave after only seeing a short bit of the actual presentation (I have the written version to take home) as I have a meeting with Peter Hendy (Director of Surface Transport at Transport for London) at which the top item on my agenda is transport for the Hornsey Town Hall site.
I am asking him to agree in principle to three main things. As nothing is agreed for the site as yet specifics are out of the question. However, the nagging is for: agreement in principle to supply extra public transport to serve the site; agreement in principle to a process of engagement by Transport for London with the Community Partnership Board on the transport issues for the site; and agreement in principle to look at free transport for those going to an event on the site on production of ticket to that event.
As we are also having dinner I get the business out the way at the front end. I have written out my longer list which includes bus links for Crouch End to both Highgate Tube (especially now that it has a CPZ and so more people need public transport to get there) and to the top of Highgate Village. I nag about the crossing for Archway Road opposite the tube entrance where the steps are where a woman got killed recently, the extension of the 603 Muswell Hill to Hampstead and Swiss Cottage bus route and various other issues. Peter thinks the Town Hall stuff will be fine and will respond to me in writing point by point down my list. So business over – time to eat and gossip…