Safety concerns highlighted at local Haringey school

A local Liberal Democrat councillor has asked that Haringey Council investigates safety concerns outside a local school, after reports of congestion and hazardous parking in the area.

Councillor Lyn Weber visited Coleridge School last Friday (9th October 2009) to see problems with cars parking on yellow lines and on the corners of junctions with the busy Crouch End Hill.

The school, in Crouch End, expanded from 2 form entry to 4 form entry last year, meaning that the volume of traffic ‘dropping off’ pupils has increased dramatically.

Lyn Weber (Crouch End) comments:

“It is clear from many reports and my visit last week, that traffic in this area, as children arrive and leave school, is becoming potentially dangerous.

“The school is working hard on their green travel plan, with wide support. We now need the Council and parents to support the school, to ensure that children are safe when they go to school. The amount of cars and the lack of ‘dropping off’ space can put pedestrians in danger as congestion builds up.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

“This is a popular school and since it expanded the amount of traffic in the area has become a problem. We now need a solution.”

The 'Big Canvass' comes to Woodside

Out on the 'Big Canvas' in WoodsideIt is quite something when we go out en mass – us Liberal Democrats. In recent months, we have adopted a new style for canvassing where we all get together in one particular area every couple of weeks. It makes it fun. The response is very warm on the doorsteps too. Cllr Lyn Weber (who organises these events) is doing a fantastic job – and may I say – it is the best organised anything I have ever been involved in – so huge thanks to Lyn.

What I've been doing this week…

Just to catch up with some of the events I have attended this week.

One was the consultation / exhibition of the proposals for the new Hornsey Depot. The land is owned by Network Rail and they can and will build this new depot where lots of the new longer trains will come for cleaning etc.

Prime concerns are obviously what this huge depot will look like and its impact on the new, still to be built, Haringey Heartlands housing development; noise, environmental impact; traffic etc.

So the task is to minimise the impact on the community – and ask for as much mitigation as we can get. That includes trying to get residents and businesses that might be affected coming to the exhibition and talking to the agencies involved. Mind you, someone told me that the Haringey failed to mention the proposed depot to the Heartlands developer – even though they have known about it for two years. Really awful behaviour!

It will on the plus side create about 250 jobs – and since the economic development side of Heartlands appears to be on the back burner – that might be welcome – so long as they are local jobs!

This week also saw the latest Stroud Green and Crouch End Area Assembly. Couldn’t stay for all of it but did catch a conservation officer from Haringey Council giving the low down on the change to conservation rules and areas. Strange that a conservation officer should be so cavalier and seem not to wish to protect our local backland sites from crass over-development.

So here we go again – Haringey fails to protect and allows developers to cram awful and non-social housing into the tiny spaces that exist behind rows of houses – often lock-up garages. Lord knows we have fought against this type of rubbish development for ever – but the buggers keep coming back – and of course Haringey just changes the rules to make it even easier for them.

Highgate Horticultural Society had its 150th anniversary – and as ever the blooms were lovely. I gave out the prizes and had a nice cup of tea and a chat. So much work goes into organising these events and they are delightful – but more exhibits are needed and more young new people to challenge the Gary Sycamores of this world who win all the prizes!

Milton Road had its first street party for 30 years. Gosia Shannon who has just moved there is the driving force behind the renewed event. It was really a pleasure to go there and chat to everyone.

Street parties are just the best local community event, getting neighbours together and making it possible for people who may never even have said hello to get to know each other. I met lots of lovely young couples moving into the area or just moved – and one couple who were thinking of moving and who Gosia had insisted come to the party. They thought it was brilliant! So well done Milton Road.

St Ann’s Police Station had its open day – to which I seem to come every year and it was as popular as ever. The young children just love to be able to sit on the police motorbikes and press the sirens – so do I! Most years my favourite thing there is to meet the police dogs – but this year they didn’t have the capacity to send any – so we had police horses instead – see photo. They are just huge!

The Big Lunch at Sue Hessel’s house in Crouch End was fun too. This was happening all over the show – people throwing over their houses and people bringing food round. It was Cllr Lyn Weber’s birthday (I don’t know which one) and Sue had actually baked her a birthday cake!

And last but not least – The Big Canvass! About 40 of us went out in Bounds Green to see what local people wanted to raise with us as issues. Found a lamppost blown over in the wind on Trinity Road! Lots of fun and very good feeling out on the streets there. Lots of issues raised. Lots of doors knocked on.

New tennis courts come to Highgate

Lynne Featherstone, Lyn Weber and Jo Durie at the opening of new tennis courts in HighgateStarted gorgeous Sunday at 6am – too much to do – too little time to do it. Highlight of the day was the opening of the new tennis courts at Highgate Tennis and Cricket Club.

After years of neglect to courts belonging to Highgate Wood School, the club – with the help of Cllr Lyn Weber – finally persuaded the school and Haringey Council that renovating the courts would be good for all. Now these sparkling courts will be used by the school, the tennis club etc and they will all play happily ever after.

Steve Reynolds, club leader, has been the driving force behind this ten year campaign. Many obstacles and barriers had to be overcome – but yesterday it was clearly all worth it – as Jo Durie helped open the courts and then went on to play an exhibition match.

The sun shone. Someone put a glass of wine in my hand. I sat and watched the tennis match – my favourite sport. I related my tennis history to the assembled ranks – ball boy at Queen’s, pass to Wimbledon and players’ box and lounge. Tennis was my passion – long gone – alas.

So well done to all those who made this possible.

Parking in Highgate

That’s the subject of my latest piece for one of the local magazines:

It can be truly terrible when a CPZ (controlled parking zone) is put in near you, but you are not actually included in it – and then everyone parks in your unrestricted bit and you then can never get anywhere near your own home to park. Never mind if you have young children, babies, buggies shopping or are older and mobility challenged – you will drive round and round and end up quite a distance from your own front door.

This was the case around Claremont Road and thanks to my Liberal Democrat colleague, Cllr Lyn Weber (Crouch End ward, which covers the eastern part of Highgate) and storming local residents, Haringey Council was eventually forced into putting a new CPZ proposal out to consultation – albeit at a snail’s pace.

I went to the publication of the results – and what was crystal clear was that some in some roads, including Claremont Road, life had become a living hell. Other parts of the consultation area had no problem at all. At the public meeting, Brian Haley (Labour Executive Member who makes the decisions) wouldn’t be drawn on saying yes to those in desperate streets – but in the end that is what he will have to do.

This brings me on to a real bit of Haringey Council insanity or incompetence – or both – in terms of CPZ introduction…

You can read the full piece here.

Crouch End CPZ and road safety measures

Thursday saw the AGM of the Haslemere, Waverley and Christchurch Road Residents Association, which was in Sue Hessel’s garden. And how lovely it was as she provides refreshments so it is social as well as business.

My Liberal Democrat colleague Cllr Lyn Weber was there too – as was Sergeant McGrath from the local Neighbourhood Team. So – after drinks etc – the three of us sat to take questions.

The big issue was the CPZ. What shocked me was that many people there had not received either the consultation on the proposed CPZ nor the consultation on Coleridge School Safety Scheme. The latter is about the road traffic and safety schemes needed to deal with Coleridge School’s expansion from two to four form entry and which will mean that the school is divided by a very, very busy road.

The school will be up and running this autumn – but the CPZ and the safety scheme (or rather, whatever emerges after the consultations) won’t be there in time for its opening. That has to be a concern both in safety terms for the kids but also in terms of the residents who will have extra pressure on parking from the school in their roads (the triangle of roads around the new building) – where parking is already under stress.

There seemed to be also quite a lot of concern that Haringey Council would provide parking permits for teachers of infinite number. Whilst everyone was quite happy for a few permits to be issued on the basis of need – there was a view that simply being a teacher at the school should not be the qualifying criteria for any such permits. If that were the only criteria – then the number of permits would make parking impossible for the residents who are already going to experience the extra weight of traffic in their roads.

So – we will see what Haringey Council is going to do to both ensure safety and deal properly with the parking stress. It simply cannot be right for the school to open without any measures in place.

Crouch End parking chaos

Crouch End residentsMy Liberal Democrat councillor colleagues in Crouch End are having a right go at Labour Exec Member Brian Haley over the parking chaos in Crouch End. Cllr Lyn Weber organised a tour with residents for Brian – to try to finally get through to him the parking nightmare which his policies have brought about and which need to be addressed now – not some vague time in the future.

Residents form Claremont Road and Stanhope Gardens as well as several other areas bent his ear – hard – about the really severe problems they are now having as a result of Haringey Council not planning for the knock-on from other CPZs.

The proof of the pudding was on display and Cllr Haley saw vehicles reversing down roads; the difficulties posed by no parking spaces; the distressing story of a young child in pain who had to be carried to a far-off car to get to the Whittington Hospital; road rage; small business being affected by lack of access to houses, and much, much more.

Cllr Haley was short on concrete answers but has assured residents that a consultation will occur in the New Year. Fingers crossed…

Funding is also an issue. Excuses from Haringey Council over funding just won’t wash. If Haringey Labour can find £10 million to cover losses on IT upgrades, surely they can find the small amount of money needed to tackle this misery for residents?

Parking problems in Claremont Road and Stanhope Road

Lynne Featherstone MP meeting residents of Stanhope Road and Claremont Road to discuss their parking issuesReceived a late evening yesterday from Cllr Lyn Weber (Crouch End) about the residents of Claremont and Stanhope roads in the Highgate / Crouch End area who are now in a completely desperate situation re parking. What has happened is that with the advent of the Highgate Station CPZ, the Hillside CPZ (on the Islington side of the borough boundary) etc – this little enclave of roads finds itself much sought after. The still free parking there is now used by some people in the streets with a CPZ so that they don’t have to pay, seemingly all the motor repair shops who want to park the cars they are working on somewhere (and they arrive four at a time on vehicle transporters), and all the other people who want to park for the station or wherever – and these streets are the last, nearest ones left available.

The consequence is that residents cannot get to park anywhere near their houses – if they can find space at all – and now want a CPZ themselves, not surprisingly.

I have written to Haringey Council about this anyway – and am waiting for a response. But Cllr Weber has met briefly with Brian Haley and been told that there is no funding before 2008/09. It really can’t wait. And given that these schemes bring in a revenue streams for the council you would not think it beyond their wit to borrow from the 08/09 fund to bring the implementation of a CPZ forward – and then pay back out of the early proceeds?

So – Lyn had organised to meet a few of the local residents to look at the situation and decide a way forward. Even though it is mid-August and many people are away – still the parking stress was clear. And several young mothers came with their children to emphasize the fact that if you have young children, buggies, shopping etc – parking a ten minute walk from your front door is a nightmare. Another women was telling me that she was often having to park such a distance a way that she had to walk alone down a street where she was actually scared to do so alone at night.

Cllr Lyn Weber will be organising a meeting with Brian Haley as soon as possible. He had suggested October – but we want that meeting now!

Haringey Council results

Well – it was very close! Massive Lib Dem gains, but not quite enough to take control of Haringey Council – Labour majority cut to just three (30-27 – no other parties have any councillors) with Lib Dems making 11 gains.

We also topped the vote across the borough – adding up the top votes in each ward – and actually now have councillors in a majority of the wards in Haringey. So – very close! Best every Lib Dem result, including our first councillors in Tottenham, many in Wood Green etc.

Lib Dem highlights:

Alexandra – 3 Lib Dem holds – Dave Beacham, Wayne Hoban and Susan Oatway re-elected

Bounds Green – 2 Lib Dem gains – Ali Demirci and John Oakes

Crouch End – 3 Lib Dem holds – Ron Aitken and David Winskill re-elected, joined by Lyn Weber

Fortis Green – 3 Lib Dem holds – Matt Davies and Martin Newton re-elected, joined by Sara Beynon

Harringay – 2 Lib Dem gains – Karen Alexander and Carolyn Baker

Highgate – 3 Lib Dem holds – Bob Hare and Neil Williams re-elected, joined by Justin Portess

Hornsey – 3 Lib Dem gains – Robert Gorrie, Errol Reid and Monica Whyte elected

Muswell Hill – 3 Lib Dem holds – Jonathan Bloch and Gail Engert re-elected, joined by Sheila Rainger (who has taken over my old council seat)

Noel Park – 2 Lib Dem gains – Catherine Harris and Fiyaz Mughal elected

Stroud Green – 1 Lib Dem hold and 2 Lib Dem gains – Laura Edge re-elected and Ed Butcher and Richard Wilson elected

Congratulations and commiseration to all candidates and helpers – both those who made it and those who didn’t, in all parties.

UPDATE: There are now further election result details on Haringey Council’s website.