Lynne Featherstone MP addresses AGM of Crouch End Open Spaces (CREOS)

CREOSLynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament, will speak to members of the Crouch End Open Spaces campaign group tonight (24th May).

The MP for Hornsey & Wood Green will tell members of the group that London’s green spaces are vitally important and that Liberal Democrats in the coalition government have won new powers for local people to shape their local community.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“CREOS has done a fantastic job over more than twenty five years, helping to protect and improve open spaces in Crouch End and Muswell Hill. They have shown what can be achieved when people come together to work for their own local community.

“Our green spaces are hugely valued and vitally important parts of our communities. In London, over 50 hectares of protected open space – equivalent to more than twice the size of St James’s Park – has been lost in planning approvals since 2008 when Boris Johnson became mayor.

“The new Localism Act will give people the power to nominate community assets that can then be given extra protection from the threat of development. Crouch End playing field is one of the places that people have told the local Liberal Democrat team should be included as a community asset. Councillors will be pressing Haringey Borough Council to include it in the list for extra protection.”

Mayor Boris gets it!

Little businesses have a hard job surviving business rates, red tape and parking restrictions – let alone the extra challenges of the recession. So – very good to see a glimmer of common sense on a local parking issue on which I have been corresponding with Transport for London for some time!

Archway Road – a fantastic road, beautiful houses, jolly interesting little shops – always fighting the volume of traffic as a main arterial road. Not surprisingly (and rightly) this is a red route. But even on a red route – between 10am and 4pm there is one hour parking outside parades of shops up and down the road. However, there is no need for there to be a cut off at 4pm on the side that bears the traffic load in the morning going into town – not in the afternoon when there is virtually no traffic at all. (One bit has already had that restriction post 4pm removed).

The simple request to remove the post 4pm restriction on the remaining parade of shops on that side of the road so customers can come and shop – had fallen on deaf ears. But at last – following a strong letter to Boris – I hear from Transport for London that they are coming to survey the traffic etc in the light of my most recent request. And my request is obviously based on representations from the small businesses whose customers melt away each time one falls foul of a ticket. A £60 penalty charge is pretty heavy duty punishment for shopping in your local shops – so people are changing their shopping habits. These little parades of shops are vital for people living in the area – let alone the jobs they provide for local people.

We need to preserve and help the shops we have – at the same time – making sure parking does not stop traffic flow on important routes.

I look forward to common sense winning the day in due course!

Northern Line catastrophic proposals

When I heard the magnitude of the scale of the closures that Tubelines want during their upgrade of the Northern Line I thought they must be taking the you know what!

Sixteen months of early evening closures and something like 83 weekends – and we are talking major closures – either the whole caboodle and/or north of Stockwell. They must be bloody mad!

I could say ‘I told you so’ – ‘cos I did – endlessly when Labour forced the PPP (private public partnership) on us for the tube. The contract is a nightmare – and now we in North London (and the other end of the Northern line obviously) are about to be tortured endlessly by this dreadful arrangement.

Boris has woken up late – as usual – hope someone is checking what he said about the PPP! As Mayor he is now saying let’s change the contract to another private company. That would be out of the frying pan into the fire AND would cost a fortune to get out of the existing contract I bet. The shareholders wanting a slice is much of the current problem and definitely a huge whack of the ginormous price tag of £6 billion that Tubelines are asking for.

£6billion! It could be done for £4 billion I am sure – if the  shareholders and profiteers were not guaranteed under the PPP contract their rake off before the work even begins.

No – our best bet – is for Tubelines to want out of the contract themselves. Then LU / TfL who already had to rescue Metronet when they went under (the other private public partnership) to take over. Blimey – just when you think it can’t get worse – it does.

Having been Chair of Transport in London for nearly five years when I was on the London Assembly – and knowing a little bit about engineering and repairs as a consequence – I am sure that Tubelines have asked for way more closures than they need. The reason – well they would get charged a penalty probably if they over ran their agreed closure time – and so rather than risk penalties – I bet they have asked for loads more time in closures then is actually needed.

So – I have got my fingers crossed – just hoping that Tubelines want to get out of the kitchen!

Local Liberal Democrats outraged as Mayor rejects one hour bus ticket

One hour bus ticket campaign with Lynne Featherstone and Caroline PidgeonLocal Liberal Democrats have expressed outrage at the Mayor of London’s refusal to consider a proposal for a one hour ticket on London’s buses.

The refusal was made clear in a letter to Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon despite a campaign supported by over 2,000 Londoners and all London Assembly Members.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“It’s ridiculous that the Mayor will not even consider the idea of a one hour bus ticket. This is such a brilliant idea and it would have been a great green proposal to back in a bid to help Londoners cut their carbon footprint.

“I’m very disappointed at the Mayor’s disregard for the views and concerns of over 2,000 Londoners and all the London Assembly Members – with that kind of support it should have been given proper consideration but it clearly hasn’t.”

Martin Newton, Haringey Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, adds:

“The Mayor’s response is a hasty, knee jerk reaction that shows he is not prepared to look into a sensible proposal which would help cut congestion and give residents in Haringey and beyond an affordable alternative to using their cars.”

Rise Festival to rise again?

Met with UpRise (London United Against Racism Festival) a group formed to reinstate the Rise Festival that Boris scrapped as one of his first acts to bring London together and spread the love. This was an annual anti-racist, free, music festival in Finsbury Park each summer.

It was indeed supported by that spawn of the devil (as far as Boris is concerned) ex-Mayor Ken – which may be the reason that Boris pulled the plug on it. However, at the risk of extending the ‘plug’ analogy – it plugged a good message – and it is a shame that Boris wasn’t big enough to understand the importance of that message in this very diverse part of London. And with the abhorrent rise of the BNP – my own view is that a public statement where we all hold hands together against racism is a jolly good thing.

Or maybe it was because the unions backed it.

Either way, the two who came to see me and Cllr Ed Butcher (LibDem Stroud Green councillor) have managed to contact many of those involved in the organisation of the original Rise. We suggested that they concentrate also on making it a local community event and bring in the local businesses and schools – so that the heart of the new festival is community too – albeit obviously open to all.

They are working very hard to find funders and sponsors so that – albeit on a smaller scale – Rise can rise again.

Boris, Tessa Jowell and John Denham!

I tweeted thus this afternoon: ‘Got in lift at City Hall to find Boris, Tessa Jowell and John Denham. I thought an Olympics cabal. But what else might they have been up to?’

And here followeth samples of the wit that flowed forth from your responses:

1) Fight Club?

2) Expenses alibis?

3) If you get Seb Coe and David Beckham you get to shout house!

4) Looking for a brain cell?

5) Grey’s Anatomy at City Hall?

6) Jowell and Denham realising that New Labour project has bankrupted country are throwing their hands in with Tories?

7) Dissing LDs?

8) Eastenders casting?

Number 6 is my winner.

Thanks for contributions. LOL

A quick resume of some activities over last few days

Went back to City Hall for a meeting of ex-GLA members of the London Assembly. Very nice to meet up with old faces. Boris wandered over to say hello. He gave a funny speech – which is his talent. Can’t have been that long after his now much publicised hissy fit where he stomped out of a Commons Select Committee ‘cos he didn’t like the questions about why London transport stopped the night we had snow. What a woos!

Off to OxPoly – as was – now Oxford Brookes University – as an alumni to take part in a panel on ‘successful women’. Unwittingly began my political career there – my first taste of politics was marching against Maggie Thatcher and my first campaign was to Save Art (hugely successful obviously – at least for a short while till I left and they got rid of it anyway). This was a blast from the past. The session itself was sold out and very well attended and hugely enjoyable -hopefully for the audience too.

The other alumni all had stellar careers in a variety of settings – and it was brilliantly facilitated by Peninah Thomson – a real high flier! What she did was, rather than have a sterile format with each of four of us giving a speech, to have questions with herself bringing in the audience right from the start. We all had drinks with the audience after – which was great too.

Several people there actually remembered my Save Art campaign – and even stranger, the Social Secretary from my era was there. He got such great bands to come to OxPoly. I saw David Bowie for example the year before he hit the big time – and there were only about 50 people there! Ahead of the curve…

Went to St Mary’s School in Hornsey – who put on one of the best ever ‘exhibitions’ that I have seen. The whole school got involved in creating ‘The London Experience’. From good size replicas of key London sites from Big Ben to the Globe, to the religions of London, to London Zoo and wartime London – completely brilliant. Wish I could show you the scope, scale and sheer brilliance of this mega project – but look at the photos here and here. I bet the information and learning that the children got from all of this will be embedded in their brains forever – far more than just being taught it. Congratulations to all at St Mary’s!

Turing to a less happy subject – two of my constituents have been held for years under control orders. Every time I write to the Home Office I am simply told they are a threat to national security. They have never known what evidence there is. It is kept secret. Their conditions are awful – let out three hours a day with a visit to report at police station in the middle.

But this doesn’t quite add up. If they are a threat of such great order that this has gone on for three years and everything has to be kept secret, then why are they let out at all? And Mr W spent two years in Belmarsh – but then his charges were dropped. He was then free for five months – but then put under control order where he has now been for a few years.

Finally – lap dancing. I went to an ‘evidence’ session hosted by Andy Slaughter and to which all MPs (like me) who have an interest in how to fight off lap dancing applications in unsuitable areas were invited. Also there were expert councillors who have had experience of fighting off such applications – with varying success etc. I will be writing more on this shortly – so watch this space.

Conservative u-turn over Wards Corner

A quick update on the very popular market at Wards Corner, and the controversial development that threatens it, as I know the issue of interest to people across Haringey.

Before the Mayor elections: Boris Johnson says he’s backing local campaigners against the development.

After the Mayor elections: Boris Johnson says he won’t use his planning power to block the development nor will he use Transport for London’s ownership of the key part of the site to block it either.

Hmm … not impressed Boris! This man is for turning! Liberal Democrat Voice has more details on Wards Corner.

Ten most popular blog postings (2nd quarter, 2008)

In traditional reverse order, here are the ten postings which have proved the most popular over the last three months:

10. The morning after the night before: the moment when it looked like Paxman might punch Johnson – one of the (few) TV highlights of the London Mayor election: Boris Johnson flounders over his bus policy.

9. The real lesson of the 10p tax rate fiasco – it wasn’t just the tax policy that was wrong, it was the whole way we do budgets.

8. What will Boris Johnson be like as Mayor of London? – no prizes for guessing the topic of that piece!

7. The London results – yes, Boris is Mayor.

6. Olympics protest – I joined the protests as the Olympic torch passed through London.

5. Crewe & Nantwich by-election: are the rules wrong? – should election campaigns really be rushed through at the convenience of the incumbent party rather than giving the public time to find out about the candidates and their policies?

4. Iris Robinson – homophobia is certainly still alive in Northern Irish politics.

3. Nine years in a squalid and infested flat – a tale of failure that should make Haringey Council ashamed.

2. David Davis and his resignation to fight a by-election.

1. What did you think of the BBC TV local elections results program on Thursday night? Not a lot by the looks of it, though given the amount of traffic to this post long after the poll has closed it’s clearly an issue still on some people’s minds!

No surprise to see the London elections features so heavily in the list – but interesting to see that several of these posts are very brief and basically just me saying what my view is on an issue of the moment. I guess people have read them either because they’ve been very timely – or perhaps because they do want to know my views on issues!

Who says Parliament isn't living in the modern world?

Here’s the official wording used in Parliament today to call the Henley by-election, now confirmed for 26th June:

That Mr. Speaker do issue his Warrant for the Clerk of the Crown to make out a new writ for the electing of a Member to serve in this present Parliament for the County Constituency of Henley in the room of Alexander Boris Johnson, Esquire, who since his election for the said County Constituency has accepted the Office of Steward or Bailiff of her Majesty’s Manor of Northstead in the County of York.

Modern, engaging and de-mystifying don’t you think?

The Liberal Democrat candidate is Stephen Kearney – good luck and have fun Stephen!