Campaigners welcome Muswell Hill Police Counter news

Lynne Featherstone and Haringey Borough Commander Victor OlisaAfter a long search, a new police front counter is due to open next week in Muswell Hill inside the Planet Organic shop on Muswell Hill Road.

Local Liberal Democrat councillors and Lynne Featherstone MP have been campaigning for a replacement counter since 2013, when the previous police counter service in Muswell Hill closed as part of the Mayor’s crime plan for London.

The new police counter will be open on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 6pm and 8pm and on Saturdays between 1pm and 3pm.

The Liberal Democrats have welcomed the opening of the new police counter.

Martin Newton, Lib Dem Councillor for Fortis Green and Crime spokesperson, comments:

“It was awful when the previous counter closed in 2013, under the Conservative Mayor of London’s policing plans. Residents lost a vital local service.

“I am delighted that residents will once again have a local contact point where they can meet with local police and trained volunteers. It is great that people will be able to report crimes, get crime prevention advice and hand in or collect lost property.”

Lynne Featherstone, local Lib Dem MP, comments:

“The Conservative Mayor of London promised that no counters would close without proper replacement services. ­So it was an absolute outrage when we lost the service in Muswell Hill. That’s why local Lib Dems councillors, residents and I campaigned for a replacement to be provided.

“We didn’t give up – we worked with the police and local businesses to find a suitable place – and I am very pleased that we’re finally getting a new police counter in Muswell Hill.

“Thank you to everyone who supported the campaign. Local Lib Dems and people power can make a difference!”

Lib Dems celebrate police front counter breaking news

Lynne Featherstone MP and Councillor Gail Engert keep their fingers crossed for the new police front counter at Muswell Hill Odeon to be openedThe local Liberal Democrat campaign for a new police front counter in Muswell Hill is on the brink of success. At a Police panel meeting yesterday evening, police representatives revealed that plans to put a front counter in the Odeon complex in Muswell Hill are now in their final stages.

Lynne Featherstone MP and the Haringey Liberal Democrats have campaigned for a replacement front counter since Conservative Mayor of London closed Muswell Hill Police Counter last year. The closure was forced through despite vehement criticism of the plans, from both local Liberal Democrats and residents.

That’s why, together with residents, local MP Lynne Featherstone and Lib Dem councillors presented petitions, met with top local cops and pushed so hard for the replacement.

Like the previous front counter, the new one will be manned by volunteers.

Muswell Hill Councillor and Haringey Lib Dem Deputy Leader Gail Engert commented:

“I am so pleased that we will soon have a replacement police front counter in the Muswell Hill area. It was a travesty to lose the previous one last year, which was relied upon and used by so many local residents.

“I’d like to thank Odeon and the local police for their hard work in facilitating a new counter – and look forward to seeing it open!”

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

“We all hope never to have to report a crime – but it’s reassuring to know that a local police contact point is there, if you needed it. That’s what we’ve been fighting to get back.

“This fantastic news about the replacement counter in Muswell Hill comes after some relentless and ongoing campaigning. Yet again, it is the Lib Dems in Haringey working on the ground with residents to protect and stand up for our local services – with great results.”

Possible site for Muswell Hill Front Counter found!

Lynne Featherstone MP and Cllr Martin Newton at Muswell Hill Police front counterLynne Featherstone MP today contacted both the Haringey Borough Commander and Haringey Council’s property services – as a potential location for a Police contact point in Muswell Hill has been found.

A local resident contacted the Liberal Democrat MP during the week, suggesting that disused units on the Viaduct in Muswell Hill be used to accommodate a replacement police front counter.

The resident, Deanna Bogdanovic, has suggested that the Council houses the local Police free of charge in one of the Viaduct properties until alternative tenants can be found or, even better, that the Police are housed there permanently at a discounted rent. She has gathered support for the idea from fellow business owners.

The original Police front counter in Muswell Hill was very recently closed, as a part of the Conservative Mayor’s new crime plan for London, despite protests and campaigns by residents and the Local Liberal Democrats. This has limited public access to the police in the west of the borough.

At a previous meeting between the Hornsey and Wood Green MP and the Borough Commander, the Commander confirmed that he would be willing to maintain a front counter presence in Muswell Hill if a suitable alternative location could be found.

Muswell Hill resident and director of local music recording and rehearsal business BonaFideStudio (based under the viaduct), Deanna Bogdanovic, commented:

“Since Muswell Hill police station closed down, residents feel less secure. If there’s a problem, they need to be able to meet face to face with local police who know and understand the area. At the same time, the local council owns five properties under the Viaduct which are currently unoccupied, going to waste, and are a liability to local businesses and homes in the area.

“It makes perfect sense. Muswell Hill would have a local police presence once more, the businesses under the Viaduct would be far more secure and the Council would have one less empty property to worry about!”

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“It has taken a while, but finally we have a lead on a replacement police front counter for Muswell Hill. I’d like to thank all the residents who signed the Lib Dem petition to keep a police presence in Muswell Hill, and thank Deanna for bringing the idea to my attention.

“I was more than happy to get the ball rolling. I met Victor Olisa this morning and have emailed Haringey Council’s property services. I hope they will work together to investigate this option.

“I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a positive outcome!”

Local Liberal Democrats launch campaign to keep police front counters open

Lynne Featherstone MP and Cllr Martin Newton meeting volunteers who man Muswell Hill Police station front counterTo make the case for keeping police front counters open in Haringey, Lynne Featherstone MP is this week writing to thousands of local residents, urging them to respond to a survey about their use.

The request follows the launch of a Metropolitan police consultation that could potentially leave Haringey with only one front counter open 24/7. The Hornsey and Wood Green MP, who ran a long campaign to keep Muswell Hill police station open, and fought for better opening hours at Fishmongers Arms in Wood Green, is asking local residents to support her campaign for existing front counters to remain open.

To help make the case, Liberal Democrat Crime Spokesperson Cllr Martin Newton is also meeting the Haringey Borough Commander this week.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“Front counters matter. Although some residents feel happy reporting crime over the phone or via email, for many people, being able to speak to someone about being a victim of crime, and getting the reassurance of a friendly face is crucial.

“Having fought long and hard for Muswell Hill police station to stay open, and for better opening hours at the front counter in Wood Green, I know that people need and want a physical place to go and report crime to. Please take a few minutes to respond to our survey, and help us make the case for keeping them open.”

Liberal Democrat Crime Spokesperson Cllr Martin Newton adds:

“Closing front counters is bad for crime reporting, and bad for crime fighting. If Haringey only had one front counter, most people would have to travel far, maybe for as long as an hour, to report crime face-to-face. I fear that would put people off.

“With the consultation running until the 27th May, we only have a short time to make the case for why our front counters need to stay open. Please call Lynne’s office on 020 8340 5459 to respond to our survey.”

The ongoing Metropolitan Police consultation (running until the 27th May) can be responded to by going to this site:
Residents who want to participate in the Liberal Democrat survey should contact Lynne Featherstone MP’s office either on 020 8340 5459, via email on or write to her at Lynne Featherstone MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

Lynne Featherstone MP makes a difference on volunteering day

Lynne Featherstone and Cllr Martin Newton with Special ConstablesTo celebrate the enormous contribution of local volunteers, Lynne Featherstone MP last week met with Special Constables and helpers at Muswell Hill Police Station to mark Community Service Volunteers (CSV) ‘Make a Difference’ Day.
The Hornsey and Wood Green MP and local crime spokesperson, Cllr Martin Newton, spent the morning on Friday (29th Oct 2010) helping out on the front helpdesk at the police station and walked the streets with Special Police constables talking about their roles as volunteers and urging more residents to volunteer in their local community.
Lynne Featherstone MP, comments:
“Volunteers at Muswell Hill Police Station do an invaluable job to make sure our local services are open to the public.
“I have been fighting to keep Muswell Hill Police Station front counter open for over a decade – this would not have been able to happen without the service of our army of volunteers.
“Volunteering is so rewarding and I would urge more people to take part, help out and volunteer.”
Cllr Martin Newton, Liberal Democrat Crime Spokesperson, adds:
“Volunteering is not only great for the community but also can give volunteers wider work experience that they wouldn’t otherwise receive.
“I admire any person who would give up their spare time to provide a service to others.”

YouTube – what's your verdict?

Over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with doing YouTube films – partly driven by necessity (broken hand makes talking to camera much easier than typing!).

If you’ve not seen the films previously, you can see them on YouTube here. So the question now is – should I carry on with them?

I’ve been surprised at the viewership patterns. With blog posts, most of the traffic usually comes shortly after the post has gone up. With the films, the traffic is more slow and steady. There hasn’t been that much of an initial burst, perhaps because people see a blog post or tweet about them whilst at work and don’t have speakers – or have speakers but don’t want the office to hear and don’t have headphones with them. However, the views carry on steadily moving up.

Given how very local the content of some of them has been (e.g. about the service at Muswell Hill Post Office), I wouldn’t expect that large an audience in the end anyway. So – viewership figures promising, particularly if they continue to grow and an audience gets established.

Anecdotal feedback from people has been positive too, though comments and ratings on YouTube itself though have been very thin on the ground.

If you are interested in the technical details, it’s all been filmed on a Canon Ixus 70, using the inbuilt microphone and with minimal editing via Windows Movie Maker. In other words – pretty basic equipment but it seems to do the job with only one or two technical hitches. The built-in mike isn’t great in noisy locations, but the traffic noise in my Westbury Avenue film actually probably added to the point about the dangers from speeding traffic.

Anyway, those are my views on the films so far. What are yours?

Muswell Hill Post Office – how are things going?

I reported a little while back on the success of the nagging to get the queue times reduced at Muswell Hill Post Office. In fact – when I went to check how things were going a few days ago, there was no queue inside! And the figures for queue times in March showed a big improvement. But we need to keep the improvements going:

This film is hosted on YouTube.

Darfur, doctors and debt

Hurrah! My glasses were found in the back of the car that brought me back from The Westminster Hour – thank goodness. Tuesday has been a busy, busy day and I hate it when there isn’t even breathing space between events.

To highlight the best of the bunch: met with an interesting organisation called Waging Peace about the ever-deteriorating situation in Darfur. My take is that the world is standing by and letting genocide take place. The Sudanese Government is playing us for fools and toying with us suggesting that they are on our side against Al Qaeda when really they are not. The Arab militias continue to kill rebels and the suffering is spreading into Chad and Central Africa. We need action from the EU and the UN. Sanctions, travel bans and arms embargos would be a start and for goodness sake – China is applying more pressure than we are.

I also met constituents about the mess that the changes to the way junior doctors are employed have caused. It’s a terrible tale of diving in without a clue where it will end up – and now peoples’ lives and careers are being ruined. And are they stopping it? No. This is a nightmare for those caught up in the changes. This should have been thought about, piloted and rolled out in a measured way rather than being steamrollered through across the board.

More Maxitech good works as they start teaming up with Age Concern to deliver free computers and training to our older citizens. The event to mark this is held in the Lords and really it is quite clear that Maxitech has solved the problem of big corporations like HSBC, John Lewis and British Airways (all in attendance) who want to be good and give their old computers for good causes – but need to know that the computers will be properly wiped clean and they won’t be caught by legal liability issues.

Then onto Spurs to see the launch of the Bounds Green United football team – set up and initiated by the (police) Bounds Green Safer Neighbourhood Team. Spurs are doing their community bit – hurrah – and some of the wards in the borough are getting teams together to compete. The first match will be on Tuesday. It’s a great project and I get to stand one inch from the pitch – the hallowed turf. It is a tremendous feeling. Thanks to the police Safer Neighbourhood Team – without whom this just would not have happened.

Then on to the CASCH AGM (a Crouch End residents’ association). Nice to be able to get here tonight – as Monday and Tuesday nights are usually impossible but I try to get to all local events that I can. The new Met volunteer organiser is there – and talks to the members about perhaps joining the team. It is so great to see what feels like my ‘baby’ growing up. The re-opening of the front counter at Muswell Hill police station was fantastic and the volunteers who run it are fantastic – and now it’s the second generation organiser is in place. Very rewarding. As they go on to the business of the Association, it is time for me to run as I have a radio car coming to my house at 10pm to interview me on vulture funds.

Vulture funds are these companies that feed off the debt of the third world. The High Court ruled today to cut Zambia’s debt repayments to them:

A “vulture” fund seeking more than $55m (£27.5bn) from Zambia had its wings clipped in the high court yesterday by the judge who limited its claim to $15.5m and cut its award of costs because of its “dishonesty”.

(From The Guardian)

Debt relief was a good move – and it is horrifying to think that anyone would prey on these countries and exploit a legal loophole. We need a government that takes action – not just wrings its hands ineffectually as this one is doing.

Then get a message that there is no radio car available to come to where I live – so go home to bed!

Relocating the police in Muswell Hill?

On Checking out possible new locations for the police in Muswell Hill with the local Safer Neighbourhood TeamThursday it was off with Sgt Paul Saunders, head of the Muswell Hill Safer Neighbourhood Team to look for suitable premises to re-house two of teams in the community. The Met Police are looking to put the community teams right in the heart of the community they serve – which is the right idea. The idea is to have four main central locations in Haringey for key functions: detention and custody; administration; response teams etc and then each neighbourhood to have its local team based at its heart.

Everyone loves their police station. It makes us feel safe, makes it easier to contact the police in non-emergencies and helps make the police part of the local community (rather than a distant impersonal force). With the reopening of the front counter at Muswell Hill Police Station – following a long campaign together with local police and residents – and with the arrival of the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, there has been a sense of vastly improving engagement between the police and the community. When I was on the London Assembly, along with my colleagues I supported full funding for the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, and I’ve had a few battles to ensure that parts of the borough don’t miss out on them – so it’s really good to see the reality and that it’s working!

This was clearly evidenced walking around with Sgt Saunders, his colleague Pauline Hearfield and local councillor Martin Newton (Lib Dem, Fortis Green). It was crystal clear by the way everyone said hello to Pauline and Paul that community policing is certainly working well in this patch. In fact, everyone knew them and they knew everybody – not only creating good public/police relations but also the level of knowledge and contact that helps gather intelligence and evidence – and so stop crime and catch crooks.

When the first murmurs of reorganising where police were stationed hit the streets, I had met with local Commander Simon O’Brien. The old Victorian Police stations are not ‘fit for purpose’ and so long as what is offered to local people in exchange for moving from that police station is better or equal then I think the police can argue a good case for the change.

In this light I went round with the police to talk about potential new premises. Some potential premises have already been identified. We walked past a great shop on Fortis Green that they had just missed – and then proceeded to PiP, the printers at the top of Dukes Avenue. I have yet to clarify whether it is ground and basement or the flats above too. If it is the latter, then it has potential – although a lot of work will need to be done (and it begs the question how much will it cost – because at a certain level it might be more economic to modernise the existing premises). If it doesn’t have the extra space – then I am not sure that everything will fit comfortably. So I am writing to Chief Superintendent O’Brien to clarify the situation and to get cast-iron guarantees about the space and what is to go in there exactly. Moreover, Simon O’Brien has also said that he is committed to working with the community, local councillors etc on this and I am also writing to establish how this is going to happen in advance of decisions being taken.