Busy, busy weekend. Saturday afternoon was the first of what is a very horticultural weekend with giving out the prizes at the Muswell Hill & District Horticultural Society Autumn Show. It was fantastic – such a lovely thing to go and do. A blaze of colour and fine blooms – and given the hottest July on record followed by the August downpours, I was amazed by the quality of the blooms. Not being an expert in these matters and certainly without a green finger to my name I can but be impressed as a spectator – those who tend to garden do us all a great service as we enjoy the fruits of others’ labour as we pass by.
Sunday afternoon was more fruits (literally) and vegetables at the Annual Show of the golf course allotments. So many contributions of fantastic veggies. I now know what makes a good green bean. The first time I looked at the various entries, they all looked much of a muchness to me – green and long. But having enquired what makes a green bean a winning green bean, I now know what details to look for. Having given out the prizes – many, many certificates and many cups and medals – I was given the most beautiful basked of produce from Gina’s allotment – absolutely gorgeous and will eat some tonight. She had even put fresh figs in!
The allotment association had applied for funding from the lottery just recently to get a pretty small amount to put up a new meeting room/shed. However, their bid failed because they were told that they needed to have planning permission (a formality in this case – as it is a replacement not a new building) in advance of their bid application. But Haringey Council hadn’t told them this. Apparently, one of the organisers told me, Haringey hasn’t given the allotments any money whatsoever in the last 15 years – and yet Haringey Council is raising the annual rental by 50% over two years. I have no doubt that the planning permission will be granted and I will certainly help them with their new application that will then follow.
Allotments are just the most wonderful breathing space for those without gardens. True oases of peace and quiet. There are something like 16 allotment sites in Haringey and 1,600 plots. There is a very long waiting list – and happily I think even Haringey Council understands that these oases are sacrosanct.
This morning, reading the endless column inches of Blair-Brown bitching, I am actually horrified by the Labour party’s seeming desire to self-destruct. Blair has been the single reason they won three elections. He has said he will go. Cameron is not very special other than he is clearly a good PR practitioner – but the Labour party’s disarray allows him more leeway than he deserves. They are still the Nasty Party and it will take a lot more than hot air (or conversion to recognition of the threat of climate change) to convince me that the leopard has changed its spots.
Blair was wrong to go to war in Iraq illegally, and he is dangerously cavalier with civil liberties and human rights – but Labour MPs who think that getting rid of him and installing Gordon will help them in the next election are wrong.
On a more local tack – there are two important local meetings coming up on issues I’ve been working on with my councillor LibDem colleagues.
Firstly, there are plans on the table to update Muswell Hill Library. The library is a well-used and well-loved local library, at the centre of our community. Upstairs the busy Children’s Library jostles for space with the IT suite, connecting people who don’t own a home computer to all the opportunities of the internet. The Toy Library supports local families with toys, games, advice and support. And twice a month the library even hosts Lib Dem councillors’ surgeries!
Of course the building needs updating. A key priority is access for people with limited mobility. And, sadly, the wonderful Grade II listed features have been allowed to fall into disrepair.
But many people were shocked and surprised to learn that Haringey’s Labour Council want to replace the ground floor with a restaurant, and move the library facilities out into an extension. In order to fund this, the Council plans to sell off land at the rear of the library, which currently provides parking to hard-pressed residents of Avenue Mews. Some of the land will be used to create a Community Garden – but there is no indication of how big this might be.
The local Lib Dem councillors and I have been pressing the Council to release a full breakdown of the costs of this proposal, and to provide more detailed plans with better information about the size of key areas such as the adult library, the Toy Library and the IT facilities. This information has yet to be provided.
The next public meeting to discuss these plans will be held in the Library this coming Wednesday, 6 September at 7pm. I hope lots of people attend.
The following Wednesday (13th September) there is to be a public meeting on the “development of local health services at the Hornsey Central Hospital site” between 6pm and 8pm at the Middle Lane Methodist Church, Middle Lane, Crouch End. (See here for a map).
I have been campaigning along with local residents and the Friends of Hornsey Central Hospital since the hospital was closed in 2001 to ensure that local health services are re-provided on this site.
It is six years since we were promised that if we (local residents, the Friends of Hornsey Hospital and Lib Dem campaigners) stopped our campaign to save the hospital – then the Trust would work together on consultation with us to a create new health facility for the community. So we worked with the Trust. There were public meetings and plans and public meetings and working meetings and lots of commitment – even complete planning permission at one stage. But after six years – we are nowhere.
And that’s just for starters … so I really am back in the swing of things again!