Miltons wheelie bins: Lynne Featherstone MP steps up the pressure

Cllr Bob Hare, Cllr Rachel Allison, Milton Avenue Resident Christopher Riley and Lynne Featherstone MP on Milton AvenueLynne Featherstone MP has today stepped up the pressure on Haringey Council to address residents’ concerns about the new bins on Milton Road, Milton Avenue and Northwood Road (the Miltons). The Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, along with Councillors Rachel Allison and Bob Hare, visited the Miltons in Highgate and met with residents to discuss the current situation.

The residents’ concerns arose when their green boxes were replaced with large wheelie bins by the Council, as part of their switch from weekly to fortnightly collections. The new bins were placed on the pavements, as they were too big to fit into front gardens, porches or drives. Residents were particularly concerned about the impracticality of the scheme, the lack of proportionality in the bin sizes, the visual affect on the Miltons.

Since the bins were replaced earlier in the year, residents have had ongoing correspondence with Council officials. However, the officials have so far been reluctant to remove or replace the wheelie bins with suitable alternatives. The Council did establish a consultation, but this was spurned by residents, who felt that none of the three options given in the consultation were adequate. An official complaint has now been made by one resident.

Lynne Featherstone, MP said:

“It is disgraceful that after months and months of complaints, the Labour-run Council will still not provide Miltons residents with adequate and practical bins. Clearly, one size does not fit all, and different residents have different needs. The Council have said that wheelie bins would only be issued if they could be stored off the street, so why won’t they replace the ones at the Miltons with a workable alternative?

I have now written to the Chief Executive of the Council, demanding action to solve this unacceptable situation.”

Local MP supports impressive community project at Alexandra Palace Allotments

With project team at AllotmentTo support an impressive lottery winning project that will make the world of difference to green-fingered allotment users, Lynne Featherstone MP on Friday officially opened Haringey’s first green composting toilet at Alexandra Palace allotments.

The project, funded by a £4,000 lottery grant, came into being thanks to allotment faithfuls Colin Roberts and John Wilkinson, who came up with the idea and secured the funding. Thanks to an impressive team of allotment users who built the disability-friendly facility from scratch, users from all walks of life can now spend more time tending to their plots, without cutting their visits short.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“This is an impressive example of the community coming together to realise a long-held wish. Having to cut your visit to your plot short because of lack of facilities has been the case for many allotment users for years. Now that will all change thanks to the inspiration of Colin, John, Mike and Anne and their team of constructors.

“It’s something so simple, but it took someone with vision and the efforts of many to make it happen. I’m hugely impressed – well done all at Alexandra Palace allotments!”

Alexandra Palace allotments Chairman (also Highgate Lib Dem Councillor) Bob Hare adds:

“I know just how much work it was to dig the large hole over the 3 month period, and then to build the project around the composter unit, but I also know just how much the unit is appreciated by everyone.

“Allotment culture has changed, and many families are spending more time on their plots perhaps eating lunch or supper, which makes having a facility like this a really fantastic benefit.”

Local Liberal Democrats welcome easy access to battery recycling in shops

Bob Hare and Lynne Featherstone recycling batteriesLocal Liberal Democrats Lynne Featherstone MP and Environment spokesperson Cllr Bob Hare have recently visited a local shop to test out new battery recycling facilities. From February 2010 new rules passed by the European Union mean that shops must have battery recycling bins for residents to use if they sell the equivalent of 1 pack a day.

Haringey Liberal Democrats are also proposing to install 100 new battery recycling sites throughout the borough as an amendment to the Council’s budget to be discussed on Monday. The sites will be in libraries, schools and other community space and will make it easier for local residents to find a convenient battery recycling site near to them.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“It’s great news that from this month, residents will be able to pop down to their local shop to recycle their batteries.

“Until now, people who wanted to do the right thing had to make their way to one of Haringey’s two recycling centres – and that’s not the best way to encourage recycling of some of our most hazardous waste.”

Councillor Bob Hare, Environment spokesperson for Haringey Liberal Democrats, adds:

“I very much welcome the fact that this will make it easier for people to recycle their batteries, but it can be made even easier. That’s why we are proposing to install 100 new battery recycling sites throughout the borough.

“Batteries are so bad for the environment, and most people do want to do their bit for our planet – it’s only right to make it as easy as possible for people to do just that!”

Exposed: Haringey Labour breaks domestic flights promise

Information revealed by local Liberal Democrats shows that Labour have broken a key pledge to stop Haringey Council using domestic flights for council business. A document sent to the Government tallying Haringey’s C02 emissions shows that 17,038 miles were travelled on domestic flights in the past two years.

The news comes as  Haringey Council announced its support of the Friends of the Earth campaign to reduce C02 emissions by 40% by 2020. Liberal Democrats have accused Labour of hypocrisy and failing to keep to a key pledge on reducing C02 emissions.

The document sent to the Department for the Environment and Climate Change shows that 17,038 miles were travelled to UK destinations, 18,992 on short haul flights and 71,028 miles for long haul air travel.

Cllr Bob Hare, Liberal Democrat Green Spokesperson, comments:

“This news is very concerning for Haringey’s fight against climate change. Unless we are fully committed to doing all we can to reduce C02 emissions we will fail in our task.

“Local residents will feel let down by a Labour Council that promised to take action to reduce carbon emissions but has fallen at the first hurdle.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

“This shocking admission by Haringey Council shows that Labour cannot be trusted on their green pledges – they simply say one thing but do another.”

Petition to improve safety on North Hill, Highgate

Lynne Featherstone crossing North Hill with Highgate councillors Bob Hare and Rachel Allison plus local pensionersHighgate’s three councilors (Rachel Allison, Bob Hare and Neil Williams) are campaigning to improve safety for pedestrians wanting to cross North Hill near Church Road.

Pensioners from the Mary Fielding Guild joined them and myself for a photo op to highlight the problems and launch the campaign a few days back and we’ve now got an online petition too – I hope you’ll sign it to help the campaign.

As Rachel put it, “At present there is little time for pedestrians to cross safely. This is a route to school and directly opposite a popular doctor’s surgery. It’s clear we need a proper pedestrian crossing.”

Why I cried yesterday

Yesterday went to launch the sports day for the Hornsey Trust for Children with Cerebral Palsy. This is one of the only places in the whole of London where from the age of six months parents can take their child to a conductive education school. This is the method that started in the Petto Institute – at the time highly controversial, but which delivers results.

And you know – can you imagine what it is like? You give birth – with all the hope in your heart that nothing is wrong – and then you are told that your child has cerebral palsy. A new world that you never wanted to take part in lies in front of you. What does it mean? Where can I get help? What will my child be capable of? So many questions and so many battles ahead.

When you become the parent of a child with disabilities – you will spend so much of your time researching and fighting to get what your child needs. Of course – it should be there – but it it often isn’t.

Many parents come to me because they cannot get Haringey (or whatever local authority) to fund their child’s education or care. And when the policy is mainstreaming – there is a great resistance to special facilities.

That is now beginning to change – as the consequences of the policy have become clear – that in some cases mainstreaming is appropriate; in some cases it isn’t and in some cases half the week in each is the best solution.

Anyway – back to sports day. Three groups of children up to the age of seven with about six or seven children in each group were doing races. The first group were mobile with a variety of help – of walking frames or without – and they went around a simple obstacle course. The conductive method seems to work off intense one to one encouragement and help to urge the child to take the next move. It is a kind of patterning – but I am no expert. At the finish lines, siblings, parents and relatives rejoice – and the little ones faces full of beams. The point is that they have achieved!

The next group less mobile – but in a short distance to a finishing tape – they crawled using their elbows or whatever – each with a helper urging them on each and every step. And the last group even less mobile – literally encouraged to roll to the finish line.

It is intense and it must be exhausting for the trainers – but the children from all the groups absolutely loved it. And the effort and the love in that room meant that tears rolled down my face continually. Don’t get me wrong – no-one else cried – they were all happy. But I cried because the achievement was huge and the road so hard and the bravery and the love so strong.

And I spoke to quite a few of the parents – and the struggle they have had to get the funding to have their child here rather than where their local authority wanted the child to go. For parents here – they have seen what this method can achieve. The normal method puts them in a wheelchair and the parents feel condemns them to a very limited life. I met one parent of a girl who had not been able to walk – now she walks. For some the improvements are small by ‘normal’ standards – but they are all about improving quality of life and maximising what each child can do – and as a parent that is what you want.

It isn’t just cerebral palsy. Readers of my blog will see only a week or so ago I visited the mother of a young girl who couldn’t get a power wheelchair from Haringey who seem to operate a one chair fits all policy.

And there are many others – but I don’t want to post here as they are private matters brought to me – but they are on the same line. The parent fights and the authorities (whether medical, council or other) all seem to make the already horrendously difficult road more difficult, more bleak and more hopeless.

Three cheers for all the parents at Hornsey Trust and all the children – and the wonderful staff!

Then it was Highgate Fair – happily the horrible rain and drizzle of the morning has dried up for this Highgate celebration. Lots of stalls and people and children all milling around and seeing what’s to eat, what’s to buy and what’s to join. My Lib Dem councillor colleagues – Neil Williams, Rachel Alison and Bob Hare have a stall too. The big event for me here is the launch of the Highgate Shopping Bag! I purchase one immediately. My only problem now is that I have the Crouch End Shopping Bag and the Highgate Shopping bag (and I have a designer given to me by my daughter last Christmas) and Marks bags that you buy to shop there. So two things – is it de trop to use the wrong bag in the wrong area? (Jokes!) And come on Muswell Hill – you can’t be left behind! Join in and soon!

Labour lets us down over plastic bags

I’ve blogged before about some of the great things local communities, such as residents and businesses in Crouch End, are doing to help tackle over-use of plastic bags – with all the litter and environmental problems that flow from them.

So it’s really disappointing that this week Labour councillors in Haringey blocked moves to support more of these schemes in our borough. It’s like walking back into the worst excesses of the 1970s when a Labour councillor objects to schemes to reduce usage of plastic bags because … “unions weren’t consulted”! It’s not as if we’re talking about cuts some jobs in the council or anything – just about supporting residents and businesses with a sensible scheme to aid our environment. And how out of touch of Labour councillors to say such schemes won’t work – when right here in Crouch End we have a successful scheme that is working.

But you know what annoys me most about this? It’s a classic case of there being a problem, people getting together locally to come up with imaginative solutions and then the state (Haringey Council in this case) failing to do its bit to help. It’s that sort of narrow-minded conservatism which, in the end, damages the case for everyone who believes there’s a need for councils and government to help provide decent services for everyone.

UPDATE: The Ham & High has covered the story, with more from my colleague Cllr Bob Hare (Highgate).

Best wishes Justin

My friend and colleague Justin Portess and his wife Siri are expecting their first child. They are also moving out of the area and this major change in circumstances has caused him to stand down from the Council. This means the residents of Highgate ward (myself included!) will be choosing a new councillor. I’ll miss Justin but I’m delighted to hear that he is starting a family.

In the meantime if you have any problems you still have two fantastic Lib Dem councillors in Neil and Bob and, of course, you can always get in touch with me. You can raise any issues with us via the Highgate ward site – and note that the ward itself, despite its name, also includes the Archway area.

Jacksons Lane Community Centre: action needed to secure its future

I’ve Lynne Featherstone MP with Cllr Bob Hare and Cllr Neil Williams at Jacksons Lane Community Centrejust demanded a meeting with Arts Council London to try to secure the future of Jacksons Lane Community Centre – one of our much-loved local resources that has provided so much to residents of Highgate, Archway and beyond.

Organisers at the centre were told in December that its £125,000 annual grant may be cut this year. And without that grant the centre, which has already endured nearly a year of closure, may have to close permanently. Not good!

The problem is that Arts Council London has questioned the commitment of Haringey Council to the centre – not surprising given the delays in funding repairs after roof damage in January 2006 and also Haringey Council’s failure to provide a long lease – which meant the centre missed out on applying for a £1 million grant.

But the annual grant is absolutely vital to the future of the centre and I will not see it disappear without a fight.