Lib Dems call for 30 minutes free High Street parking in Haringey

Lynne Featherstone MP at a ticket machine on Muswell Hill Broadway.Lynne Featherstone MP and the Haringey Liberal Democrats have launched a campaign for 30 minutes of free parking on Haringey’s High Streets.

Last year, retailers on Muswell Hill Broadway reported months of poor trade after the parking charges were increased from £1.40 to £3 per hour.

The traders started a petition to lower the charges – which attracted over 5,200 signatures – and presented it to Haringey Council. Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone also wrote to the Labour-run Council and requested that the charges be lowered.  Despite this, the Council refused to reduce the charges.

Lynne Featherstone MP and the Haringey Liberal Democrats are now calling for 30 minutes of free parking on Haringey’s High Streets, to encourage people to stop and ‘drop in’ to the Borough’s independent shops, and boost their trade.

Jim Jenks, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Muswell Hill said:

“Haringey retailers need our support. But the Haringey Labour Council has, as usual, a ‘one size fits all’ approach with high parking charges throughout the Borough. We need local parking solutions that help get more people into our shops.

“We need as many people as possible to support our campaign, so we’re encouraging our supporters and residents to sign our petition and let their friends and families know about it, too.”

Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green commented:

“In my constituency, the high streets in places like Muswell Hill and Crouch End are packed with independent retailers. It sets us apart from other places which are full of bland chain stores.

“I’m afraid this refusal to listen to trader’s concerns is typical of the Labour-run Council – more interested in making a quick buck on parking fees than preserving our community assets.

“I urge anyone who wants to support independent shops – and would like to enjoy 30 minutes free parking – to sign our petition.”

Sign the petition here.

Lynne Featherstone MP slams Haringey Council’s response on parking charges

Lynne Featherstone MP at a ticket machine on Muswell Hill Broadway.Lynne Featherstone MP has today expressed her frustration with the parking charges set by Haringey Council, which are having a detrimental effect on many shops and businesses in Hornsey and Wood Green.

In September, local business owner Chris Oswald contacted Lynne Featherstone. He reported that independent businesses have suffered months of poor trade after the parking prices were increased from £1.40 to £3 per hour last year.

The Liberal Democrat MP contacted the Council ask asked them to examine the parking charges around Muswell Hill and consider reducing them to a more realistic level so that shoppers can be encouraged to stop and shop in the area instead of going elsewhere.

The Council last week confirmed that, following a review completed this year, a decision was taken to make no further changes to the charge of £3 per hour.

Chris Ostwold, manager of Crocodile Antiques in Muswell Hill Broadway, said:

“I am very disappointed with the Council’s response. We traders have told the Council that the charges are having a negative effect on our businesses – but they just won’t listen. I simply don’t understand how they have supposedly reviewed the impact, yet not realised how damaging this extortionate charge is.

“I will continue to collect signatures for my petition, which calls for a reduction in parking charges.”

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“This is just typical of Labour-run Haringey Council. They should be supporting local businesses, not discouraging residents from shopping on our high streets.

“I am fully behind the Haringey Liberal Democrat campaign for 30 minutes of free parking on Haringey’s high streets. I am also supportive of Mr Oswald’s petition to lower the parking charges.”

Controversial bus stop set to move on trial basis

The location of the first stop on the W7 and 144 bus routes from Muswell Hill is set to change on a trial basis. The change, which was officially announced last night at a local area forum, follows a four year campaign by local Liberal Democrats.

The stop is located on the steep Muswell Hill. This has caused numerous problems for residents, who have complained about the inaccessibility and safety risks of the current location. The problems prompted Lynne Featherstone, local MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, and local Liberal Democrat Councillors to campaign for the bus stop to be moved.

In 2011, after three years of campaigning, the Liberal Democrat MP received confirmation that the bus stop would be moved to outside Boots on Muswell Hill Broadway. In July of this year, Lynne Featherstone expressed her anger that, despite the confirmation, the bus stop still had not been relocated.

Tfl have now launched an official consultation on the provision of a new, accessible stop. They propose that routes 144 and W7 would serve a new southbound bus stop on the roundabout between Muswell Hill Broadway and Duke’s Avenue. This would be the new first stop and would allow for a wheelchair ramp to be deployed. The consultation also forms part of the Council’s trial.

Sophie Erskine, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Fortis Green, said:

“After years of petitions, meetings and campaigning, I am delighted that an official consultation has been launched. This gives residents a chance to really get their views heard – so I encourage everyone to take part.

“I hope that finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that the stop will be moved permanently.”

Commenting, Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“The location of this bus stop has been a long standing problem for many residents. Despite assurances that the stop would be moved, Labour-run Haringey Council never managed to coordinate this, leaving elderly and disabled users without proper access to the services.

“You can be sure that I will be responding to the consultation, and pushing TFL and the Council to ensure that the move is a permanent one.”

Survey shows residents concerned about school place shortage

The results of a survey by local MP Lynne Featherstone released this week reveals the level of concern amongst local residents about school places in Haringey.

Survey returns from over four-hundred homes in Muswell Hill, Crouch End and Fortis Green wards show that nearly half of those who responded felt that more school places are needed in their area. Places at primary schools were considered as the top priority.

Liberal Democrats have called on Haringey Council to take concerted efforts to do all they can to increase the supply of school places, including backing the campaign against Islington Council’s plans to turn the former Ashmount school site into a housing development.

Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Hornsey and Wood Green, comments:

“Haringey Council needs to listen to local residents and look to see where there is the highest pressure for places.

“The Government has given Haringey an additional £1.7million this year to relieve the pressure on school places on top of their share of £800million nationally.”

Councillor Sophie Erskine (Fortis Green) adds:

“In the first round of applications this year 130 children in Haringey did not receive a place at any primary school. The Council must do all it can to ensure our families have access to good local schools.

“It is about time that the Council backed the campaign to keep the Ashmount school site for educational use.”

Liberal Democrats demand action on inaccessible crossings for blind and partially sighted residents

Lynne and Jim at inaccesible crossingLocal Liberal Democrats have today demanded that London’s Mayor takes urgent action to improve Haringey’s 15 pedestrian crossings which are not accessible to blind or partially sighted residents.

The demand comes after Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon unearthed information that shows 347 pedestrian crossings in London have no facilities to help blind and partially sighted people to safely cross the road, with 15 of these located in Haringey. This is despite there being long standing national accessibility standard to ensure every pedestrian crossing has either an audible sound and/or a rotating cone to assist blind and partially sighted people.

In addition to widespread poor access for blind and partially sighted people, Liberal Democrats have also found that Haringey has seven crossings that also fail national safety standards by not providing the minimum amount of time for pedestrians to safely cross the road.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“It’s a disgrace that Haringey has fifteen crossings that are not accessible to blind and partially sighted local residents, and seven that do not leave residents enough time to cross.

“The Mayor has a responsibility to make sure that all crossings in London are accessible, but this poor record shows that blind and partially sighted residents, in particular, and pedestrians more widely, are not getting the priority they deserve. This needs action and it needs action now.”

Liberal Democrat Transport and Environment spokesperson Cllr Jim Jenks adds:

“Blind and partially sighted residents already face a whole range of obstacles when they walk on our local streets, be it advertising boards or other items strewn across our high streets.

“It should be safe for all to cross at pedestrian crossings. By their very nature they meant to help pedestrians cross busy roads safely. It is just not good enough that fifteen crossings in Haringey fail to meet basic safety standards for blind and partially sighted people even though guidelines have been around for over 15 years. I hope that the Mayor will now sit up and change this disgraceful record once and for all.”

Muswell Hill Area Forum Councillors give thumbs down to Pinkham Way

Muswell Hill residents packed the British Legion Hall last Thursday to hear about the controversial Pinkham Way Waste Plant from Haringey Council officers at the first meeting of the new Muswell Hill Area Forum.  The Pinkham Way proposal was on the agenda at the insistence of Liberal Democrat councillors who demanded residents be given the opportunity to discuss the plans, and question planning officers.

Haringey will be handling the planning application, so the meeting was welcomed by many who were disappointed by the North London Waste Authority’s refusal to speak at a public meeting Lynne Featherstone MP was hoping to organise earlier in the spring.  At the Forum Committee meeting, local councillors also voted overwhelmingly for a motion that criticised the Pinkham Way waste facility proposals.  

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Alexandra, Juliet Solomon commented: 

“This is an issue that local people care passionately about, and I have frankly been astounded that the waste authority is so unwilling to meet with local people and hear their concerns. I was therefore delighted that the issue was discussed at the Area Forum, and residents didn’t hold back in showing their outrage at the plans.

“I am also really pleased to see local councillors taking an unequivocal stand on this troubling proposal.  Local residents in three boroughs are shocked and dismayed by the proposals and will be reassured to know that their fears are shared by their elected representatives who will be arguing against the plant strongly in every possible arena.” 

Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone added:

“The waste authority is planning to squeeze in this giant waste plant in the middle of a residential area, and residents are rightly outraged. I am this week meeting with the MPs from Enfield and Barnet, to see how we can jointly stop this monstrosity.  Once the planning application is available for comment, we will also be writing to local people to tell them how best to respond. Please also sign our petition and show your opposition to the plans. Together we will fight these plans.”

The text of the motion passed reads:

“This Area Committee opposes the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) plans for a waste facility at Pinkham Way, and calls on the NLWA to drop the plans.

“Whilst we recognise the need to plan responsibly for waste disposal, this must not be through the location of a huge plant in a residential area with the excessive movement of large lorries that will result.”

“We further oppose plans for the use of the site by Barnet LB as a lorry park. The London Borough of Barnet should make arrangement for the parking of such vehicles in its own borough.”

Lynne Featherstone MP and Fortis Green residents congratulate much-loved postman for over 30 years of dedicated service

Bob the Postman, Lynne Featherstone MP and Southern Road residentsTo thank a much loved postman for more than 30 years of dedicated service to people in Fortis Green, Lynne Featherstone MP and residents on Southern Road last Friday threw a small street party for Postman Bob.
The Hornsey and Wood Green MP heard of Robert Konig’s impressive service to people in Fortis Green by Southern Road resident Deborah Langdon-Davies, who wanted to do something special for this much-loved man.
As postman Bob has just been nominated for a Royal Mail Chairman’s award, The Liberal Democrat MP and neighbours on Southern Road decided to say their own thanks and on Friday presented him with flowers and chocolates.
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“I was really touched to hear of postman Bob, his amazing work, and how much he is loved and appreciated by local residents.
“It’s easy to take good people for granted, so on this occasion, we wanted to do something special to say thanks, hence a small party with a big thank you for a job tremendously well done!”
Southern Road resident Deborah Langdon-Davies adds:
“Bob always goes the extra mile, doing his utmost to make sure our post is delivered safely each day. It’s not rare for him to backtrack to deliver a parcel if he recognises us coming back in our cars, or leaving parcels with neighbours he knows we can trust.
“It’s just so refreshing to see someone who takes real pride in his job, and he is definitely up there with the best! As he’s retiring in the summer, after more than 30 years of delivering the post on our street, we wanted to say a huge thank you.
“He will be sorely missed but I am truly grateful for having had the world’s best postman for the ten years I’ve been living here.”

Fortismere students in special Q & A session with local MP

Fortismere School hustingsLocal students from Fortismere school on Friday got the chance to question Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone and the other parliamentary candidates on policy, in a special Q&A session led by the school’s head teacher, Aydin Onac.

The students quizzed the candidates on a number of issues, ranging from local school funding to the Middle East crisis and economic recovery.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“It’s been such an enjoyable and stimulating afternoon. I’m so impressed by the Fortismere students. They clearly have an impressive knowledge of political issues, as well as a hunger to learn more and understand the world we live in.

“With that kind of insight and interest, I’m sure they will go far in life, so keep it up guys!”

Whittington A&E

Here’s my latest column for the Muswell Hill Flyer and the Highgate Handbook:

I sent out an email to my special email list to ask for people’s personal stories of when the Whittington Accident & Emergency had been important in their lives – and got a phenomenal response. (If you want to be on this list just email and say so).

I will be presenting these to all the members of all the boards of all the layers of NHS decision makers who are working out our future health services (and there are many of them) and to the government in due course – to try and remind them that this about people’s lives – and that we are not just pawns on some management chessboard.

The clue is in the title of the service – ‘emergency’ – and some of the stories tell how the ambulance man or woman has said we must go to the nearest hospital because x won’t make it if we don’t – every second counts.

Now every resident of Muswell Hill and Highgate who has contacted me about this is quite clear about the importance of having a full 24/7 A&E locally. Distance matters both for saving lives but also for ease of access. And quite frankly the Whittington is far better placed for public transport than the Royal Free for us.

The decision makers are arguing that distance isn’t always important and that extra GP hours, NHS Direct and pharmacies can be a viable alternative. But no amount of extra GP hours or even an urgent care centre (which is one of their alternative suggestions) can replace a full A&E service. This is insanity being wrapped up and sold to us under the guise of ‘better clinical outcomes’. Yes – there are people who use A&E who don’t need to – but taking away A&E isn’t the answer – adding a GP walk-in where those people could be diverted to – could be.

If our A&E goes – as sure as night follows day – we will also lose obstetrics and the Intensive Care Unit. There will be no emergency take from GPs and it will compromise the teaching of medical students at the Whittington.

As for the funding, I put it directly to the Minister, Mike O’Brien, in an Adjournment Debate on the Whittington, that there is a fear that this is about cuts and budgets. The Minister assured me, on the record, that there would be no ‘slash and burn’ solutions and that all of this was about better clinical outcomes.

Well – for all those stories where people would have died if there had not been an A&E at the Whittington – seems to me being alive is a pretty good clinical outcome.

Whittington A&E: 4 out of 7 scenarios end 24/7 service

Full credit to Rachel Tyndall (Chair of the North London Central Review Panel) for sending me the NCL Strategy Plan for our local health services. I had heard that these had been submitted to NHS London and asked for a copy – and it was given to me virtually immediately. I have circulated the document for information.

The content is of concern. First let me say – this is a long, technical document – in which the arguments are laid out for the configuration of health services across five boroughs and between five hospitals: Barnet, Royal Free, North Mids, UCLH and the Whittington. Ms Tyndall has said that a more accessible version for public consumption will be provided in due course.

In the appendix, are laid out, seven ‘scenarios’. This is where the fight to Save the Whittington A&E will come – if these are the ‘options’ that come for public consultation next autumn.

The seven ‘scenarios’  demonstrate different configurations between the five hospitals as to what services will be provided from each hospital. It is about a total provision – obviously – not just A&E. Suffice to say that four out of the seven ‘scenarios’ show an end to 24/7 A&E at the Whittington. Three show retention of 24/7 A&E.

Interestingly two of the ‘scenarios’ show a reduction to 16 hours A&E – however – from the minutes of the Board Meeting of the Council of Governors of the Whittington it is quite clear that the the 16 hour A&E is not a real option. The actual wording from the minutes of the meeting of the Council of Governors of the Whittington reads (and I quote directly):

Very importantly NCL and the Whittington have ruled out an option where the Whittington has an A&E with reduced opening time eg 16hours per day. This leaves options where either the full 24 hour A&E is retained or there is no A&E at all. The Whittington might then have an urgent care centre.

So – I don’t know why NCL have included two options showing a 16 hour A&E as clearly that has already been ruled out. This makes me wonder if options have been put in that are not really and truly under consideration but are there to make two of the options look better than they are – as they seem to offer some A&E rather than none. I will seek clarification on this seemingly conflicting evidence.

The greater problem for all of us fighting to save the Whittington A&E – is that as long as there are any ‘scenarios’ that don’t retain 24 hour A&E – we are in jeopardy. So – we need the public consultation next autumn to simply ask those who use the Whittington whether we want to retain the 24 A&E service or whether we would prefer the alternative range of provision at the polyclinic, GP extra hours, urgent care centre etc favoured by NCL and the Trusts.

Anything else opens the way to closure of A&E at the Whittington.

At this point – it is a battle to make sure whatever options finally come forward for consultation- that if local people want to retain a 24 hour A&E at the Whittington – it is retained!