Bounds Green Tube Station to be protected after Liberal Democrat campaign

Success as Bounds Green Tube gets listed after Lib Dem campaignBounds Green Tube Station has been designated a Grade II listed building by the Government, as the result of a two-year campaign by Liberal Democrats and local residents.

In July 2008, Cllr John Oakes wrote to English Heritage, requesting that Bounds Green Tube Station be put forward for listing by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport , in order to protect the much-loved local landmark.

Cllr  Oakes, Liberal Democrat councillor for Bounds Green, comments:

“I have long admired our tube station, and the way its Art Deco style makes it an ornament and a focus for the area’s residents.

“After a tour with local MP Lynne Featherstone, to examine its excellent restoration by Transport for London, I was surprised to find that it had not been listed in the same way as Turnpike Lane and Arnos Grove, two other stations dating from 1932/3 and influenced by the legendary architect Charles Holden.

“So I asked the Bounds Green and District Residents’ Association and the Hornsey Historical Society if they would support my application, which they kindly did.

“I am delighted to say that the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport has now recognised  Bounds Green Tube as an historical gem and a very worthy addition to Haringey’s protected buildings by giving it a Grade ll listing.  This effectively limits any changes or extensions, so that its clean lines can be  enjoyed by many future generations.

“The Minister echoed my application, by drawing attention to the station’s ‘special architectural interest…which responds appropriately to its suburban setting, while boldly announcing its presence.”

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, adds:

“Well done to all those residents who helped this wonderful campaign, to ensure a key piece of Bounds Green history is preserved.”

Preserving Bounds Green station

Bounds Green tube station was opened on 19th September 1932 and was designed by architect C. H. James in the “Box-style” of his colleague Charles Holden. The station is a well-preserved example of the modernist house style used by London Transport in the 1930s (and credit to London Transport in its various incarnations over the years to have kept these features well-preserved).

In other words – it’s a great piece of our architectural heritage which deserve protecting.

John Oakes is one of the Bounds Green councillors and puts it well:

“Bounds Green station is a beautiful example of the art-deco design style of the 1930s adopted by London Transport. It has cheerfully decorated the Bounds Green landscape for well for over seventy years and I believe it deserves listed status due to its iconic character. I hope English Heritage agrees with me and that we can take the listing process forward.”

John has therefore written to English Heritage asking them to give the station listed building status. Fingers crossed!

What does an MP do when they are not in Parliament?

Sometimes people think that being in Parliament was the only part of being an MP. I wish – the job would be much easier if that was all there is to it!

So as an example – this is what Friday was like for me. Started with a few hours of surgery (residents coming to meet me face-to-face to raise issues) – with at least four people bursting into tears. No – not ‘cos I am mean to them – but because I am sympathetic – and so many of those who come to me at surgery have been through so much with nobody listening. And when someone sits you down and says now what’s wrong and how can I help – it is obviously a release. I may not always be able to solve the problem – but I do listen properly. It’s pretty dreadful when the first person who will listen non-judgementally is your MP! And it is very, very emotionally draining.

Next port of call – to see the finished works at Bounds Green station. Cllr John Oakes, my local Lib Dem colleague and councillor for the ward was also in attendance. I went to see the works in progress some while back – hundreds of fluorescent orange jackets deep underground, dozens of different trades busying away at 2am. They have very limited time to work – so literally an anthill of activity.

Today I am met by Mike Challis, who is the General Manager of the Piccadilly line. The station really does look marvellous. And the very beautiful lights at the bottom of the escalators now look splendid in their setting. So much better!

The only flaw was the backing to the posters you stare at inanely whilst you are going up and down the escalators. This area wasn’t renewed (they can’t do everything – too much money) but it was a shame as they detracted a bit from the rest of the work that made the station look so much better.

Lynne Featherstone with Alzheimer's Society, Wood GreenThen back to Wood Green to support the Alzheimer’s Society day of protest about the appalling way those with dementia or caring for those with the dementia are treated compared to other illnesses. It is that they are charged for help with washing, eating and using the toilet. One in three people over 65 are affected. And it could be you!

The cost is heavy. The quality of care often poor. Dementia sufferers are hardest hit by such costs as they need so much care over so many years. And the means test for what help there is penalises those who have saved a little bit for their old age with the threshold at £21,000.

The Government is to launch a consultation in 2009 and what the Alzheimer’s Society is saying is that for dementia they need a funding system that is fair, sustainable, transparent, simple to understand and will deliver good quality care. The solution the Government eventually puts forward must meet the needs of people with dementia – not just the convenience of the Government.

Then on to the FAITH Plant Centre which is in Wolves Lane right on the edge of my constituency boundary with Tottenham. Cllr Richard Wilson, my Lib Dem colleague and spokesperson for Social Services and Health in Haringey, was there too.

Lynne Featherstone at the FAITH garden centre, with protestorsHere they have the most remarkable jungle area, desert area and rain forest area – as well as a garden centre – and also training and work for volunteers with a variety of disabilities.

About 50 volunteers come here to train and work in horticulture. This perfectly fits the bill of helping people to find routes to occupations for those who simply cannot work in the normal way. Additionally – local children come here to experience the different climate areas, to learn about some of the creatures that live in them too.

The problems are thus. This wonderful scheme has been funded through a national charity, Livability, to the tune of roughly £300,000 a year. It will end its funding at the end of August, because they say they can’t afford to continue this any more without support from Haringey Council and others.

This would end all the educational work with primary schools, all the work with adults with learning disabilities and force the place to close unless Haringey Council steps in to find other sources of funding.

The site is owned by Haringey Parks (it’s their old nursery) who give it rent free to the organisation that run it. The (only) funding Haringey Council gives is for the three staff who run the cafe (a council funded project that was moved to the centre when it had to leave its previous location), and they pay for the plants that are grown there for the parks. But Haringey Council do not pay towards the maintenance of the site. In addition to the funding needed to keep the service open, it is in need of investment – it needs £300,000 to replace the electrics very soon.

A lot of volunteers, their families and local users of the centre turned up to tell me how much the centre means to them. To most of the volunteers closure will result in the end of their outside independence. Many of the volunteers will simply be left to vegetate at home if the scheme closes – so it’s battle stations for a really worthwhile cause. Watch this space!

Whoosh back to get to Greig City Academy to meet with the students and staff who tell me what they plan to do as part of the B & Q @One Planet Living Award scheme. Greig has been awarded £2,400 based on a natural pond they have created. They will use it to establish plants and to purchase special tools to construct and maintain the area. Two B & Q staff came for the photo op – and together with four students there are now photos in existence of me and them in wellies in the middle of the pond. It’s not dull – being the MP! Well done Greig and B & Q for the scheme itself.

Lynne Featherstone at Highgate SchoolThen off to to Highgate School for two very good reasons. Meet the science teachers and the four boys who have won the 2008 Top of the Bench competition. Twice before they have got close – but this time they have done it. It is a wonderful tribute to the science teaching at Highgate and to celebrate I have tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament to congratulate them!

But the main event I am at Highgate School for is to launch the Chrysallis Partnership. Basically Highgate School is using its very best skills to advantage all the bright children from other schools in Haringey and Camden. This part is about offering subject-specific teaching to bright pupils and about offering specialist advice and assistance in applying to top universities.

I think this is fantastic. For far too long Highgate School has been regarded as separate from the community of schools in Haringey. What I saw was the beginning of a reaching out and bringing all our schools together to develop and use skills to help all our children. I think there is a passion and a hunger there which will spread benefits widely.

And – as the Head himself said – the ultra bright pupils who are coming from other schools are teaching the Highgate pupils a thing or two themselves. Adam hopes in years to come to extend the scheme so all the schools can offer any specialist skill they may have to pupils from the other schools – not just Highgate. Anyway – too much to put in a blog posting!

What happens in Bounds Green Tube station in the middle of the night?

Turn Lynne Featherstone MP seeing how Bounds Green tube station is being renovatedup on the site of the modernisation of Bounds Green tube station – boy did it need it! 1.30am had tested my ability to stay awake and my fear since returning from the Mayor’s Charity Ball is that I would fall asleep and miss the whole thing. However, my safety training had said that anyone going on site could not have any alcohol at all for 8 hours beforehand (24 in other situations) and so I had navigated the Mayor’s Ball without a drop – which at least meant I did manage to stay awake until the allotted time.

I did my safety training earlier in the week – very extensive with a test at the end. (I got 10 out of 10, thank goodness). Didn’t understand why I had to go through such rigorous briefing / training just for a visit beforehand, but now I understand – underneath Bounds Green tube seethes an anthill of activity with around 110 people (some nights more) from 15 different trades all plying their trade. I am kitted up with the regulation safety equipment and off we go.

Ashraf Al Ameria, the project manager for Tube Lines conducts my tour and as we progress past the scaffolding, the hammering, the sawing, the drilling and so on, I can see why I needed my training. I follow my leader very carefully so as not to get a) in the way b) hurt!

Ok, I didn’t agree with the hugely expensive PPP tube privatisation deal that brought in Tube Lines – and still don’t – but we now are where we are and Tube Lines, to their credit, does rather well by comparison with Metronet, whose series of engineering over-runs frequently make Londoners see red.

Tube Lines is rolling its program of renovation and modernisation of stations on with Wood Green and Highgate in the pipeline – hurrah!. Bounds Green is getting the full modernisation works at the moment. This means they don’t just paint over – they take out the old and put in the new. For the record, Ashraf gave me some stats: 100,000 new tiles, 350 lights, public help points, CCTV, speakers every few metres, new floors, new ceilings, new cabling, etc. etc etc.

But it is impossible to describe the scene adequately. Dozens and dozens of men in bright orange jackets just working away – a bit like Santa’s Elves but clearly not in a toy workshop, but rather a hostile working environment where there is quite a lot of danger and only a few hours of access (in the hours between the last and first tubes). What gets me is that – as the station is still in full use the rest of the time – they have to erect all of the scaffolding and get it in place (in various places) every night and be out with not a nut or a bolt left on the site a few hours later.

I checked with the Protection Safety Officer just how they know the electricity is off on the rails before they commence work. He showed me a device that flashes all the time when the juice is off but doesn’t when it is on. Also the lights in the tunnels only come on when the electricity is off – and they can’t put it back on until the Protection Officer signs the paper to say it can be switched back on at the end of the work shift. I was impressed with their safety measures and indeed with the whole operation.

I found the visit fascinating. I wouldn’t do their job for all the money in the world (apparently very few women work on these teams although some projects are managed by women). It is noisy, dirty, hard and at a ridiculous time of night for normal people. Everyone was friendly and smiled as I passed along and amongst them. I felt like a sore thumb, personally, and am grateful for the opportunity to see just what a specialised field this is and understanding a bit more about how it all works.

You can see a batch of photos from my visit on Flickr.

Controlling arms exports

Lobbied by the Control Arms campaigning wing of Oxfam ahead of the review taking place into the Export Control Act.

In May the Government will begin its review of the first years operation of this act. This is important as there are holes in the system which mean that arms end up quite easily in countries where war wages, feeding the violence. With Oxfam were three local constituents come to tell me their reason for taking action on this issue.

The key things they want are to introduce include full controls on those who traffic in arms and broker arms deals, regardless of where the deals are done (so that people can’t sidestep the rules by stepping outside the UK briefly) and proper monitoring of what any arms exports actually end up getting used for.

It is clear that arms exports which end up going into feeding and exacerbating existing conflicts leave numerous tragedies in their wake – and make all the worthy things the Government tries to achieve through its international development policies much, much harder.

The evening is taken with the Mayor of Haringey’s charity ball at the Cypriot Centre in Wood Green. It is really well attended and a great success. I leave relatively early as I have a somewhat bizarre engagement next – tonight!

As I sit here, it’s nearly one o’clock in the morning, and I am trying to keep myself awake as my last call of the day (or actually first call of the morning) is to Bounds Green tube station to see the improvements being worked on there. I said I would like to go when Tube Lines came to see me at Parliament recently – but to be frank – I hadn’t at that point worked out that it would have to be at quite such an hour! So…