Over a thousand residents sign local MP's save A&E petition in 48 hours

Local residents’ outrage at plans to close the Accident and Emergency (A&E) services at the Whittington and the North Middlesex hospitals has today been made clear after Liberal Democrat petitions against cuts got over a thousand signatures in the first 48 days.

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone and Health Spokesperson Cllr Nigel Scott launched the petitions on the 23rd November, after a leaked letter from Islington NHS boss Rachel Tyndall showed that there were plans to possibly close the A&E department at both the Whittington and the North Middlesex Hospital.

Local residents who want to sign the Whittington petition should go to http://bit.ly/SaveOurAandE and residents who want to sign the North MIddlesex petition should go to http://bit.ly/northmid.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“It’s overwhelming and really powerful to see the petition signatures pouring in. It’s clear that local people will not accept cuts or closures of emergency services at our closest hospitals- and neither will I!

“This sends a message loud and clear and I will make sure that local health bosses have no illusions to the contrary when I present the petition – hands off our A&E!”

Cllr Nigel Scott adds:

“Residents need to have a real say when it comes to the future of their nearest emergency service.

“It can literally be a question of life and death and that’s why it’s so important that local residents show how they feel about this now. Please take a minute to sign the petition – it will really make a difference.”

Action needed on housing security

Concern is growing for the safety of local residents living in a housing block in Alexandra ward after Haringey Council and Homes for Haringey failed to take action to improve security despite many incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour over the past year.

Tenants and leaseholders in Bolster Grove have been forced to put up with constant vandalism and intimidation as local vandals use the main stairwell leading to residents’ homes as a hang out. Recent visits to Bolster Grove have revealed many incidents including the windows of the main entry door have been broken, windows in the stairwell forced open, window frames burned, fires being started as well as the area being regularly strewn with dropped food, litter and used condoms.

However, since the most recent incident on 11th October 2009, Homes for Haringey has not repaired the main entry door, leaving smashed glass in place and homes unsecured.

Local Liberal Democrats have continued to raise the issue, along with the need for door entry systems, with Homes for Haringey bosses and even brought the issue to the attention of Cllr John Bevan, Labour’s Cabinet member for Housing, at the last Full Council meeting on 19th October 2009. Despite this, no action has been taken by Haringey Council.

Cllr Nigel Scott   (Alexandra ward), who has alerted the local safer neighbourhood team and visits the area regularly, comments:

“It is unacceptable that after months of incidents including fires, antisocial behaviour and damage to property, residents of Bolster Grove still do not have an idea when their homes will be made safe.

“Some residents are afraid to leave their homes unoccupied whilst the entrance door is broken. It needs to made safe now and the Council should not wait until a more serious incident occurs before they take action.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

“Local residents should feel safe in their own homes. Yet the lack of action by Haringey Council at Bolster Grove only leaves people feeling harassed and their homes unsecured.”

Mike Terry OBE

I was very sorry to hear news of the death of Mike Terry, best known to many of us as the Head of Science at Alexandra Park School. He died last week when he was training for a charity run. Nigel Scott, one of our councillors for Alexandra Ward, who is also a governor at the school told me more about him:

Although he was not the head of the school, in many ways, Mike was its heart. He was a pillar of strength to the founding head, Roz Hudson and to her successor, Michael McKenzie. He always had time for everyone, with a kind word and sound advice. It was Mike Terry’s drive, determination and enthusiasm that secured Science Status for the school and he was instrumental in setting up the school’s links with Ephes Mamkeli School in South Africa.

While most people in the school community knew that Mike had been involved in the Anti-Apartheid Movement, few appreciated the depth of his commitment. He was its Executive Secretary for twenty years and oversaw its emergence from being a small campaign group to becoming a key player in changing world opinion and reforming South Africa. When reform came to South Africa and the Anti-Apartheid Movement was wound up, Mike’s enthusiasm was diverted into a new career as a teacher and Alexandra Park School was the main beneficiary.

He was loved and will be missed not just in the school community, but by his many friends in South Africa and elsewhere. We need more like him.

Nigel Scott wins

Great that Nigel Scott romped home in the Alexandra ward by-election with around 50% of the vote – fantastic! I’ve known him for many years and he’ll be a great councillor.

It was an interesting by-election in that both Labour and Tories really threw everything they had at it in a way they haven’t done for a while.

I guess for the Tories they were trying to see if there was any resurrection possible – they don’t have any councillors anywhere in Haringey – and their answer was no. And Labour were probably both desperate not to come third and can see the writing on the wall for the local council elections in 2010 when the view is that the Lib Dems will take it over after 40 years of Labour rule. Afraid the writing is still on the wall!

Parliamentary season kicks off again

Back to The Westminster Hour last night – and the gang is all there. They are kicking off for the new Parliamentary season with the three of us – me, Ed Vaizey and Emily Thornberry.

Before that it was a busy day campaigning for Nigel Scott in the Alexandra Ward by-election which takes place on Thursday (Yom Kippur). In fact, I have referred Haringey’s refusal to change to avoid the clash to the Equality and Human Rights Commission as religious Jews are actually forbidden to make a mark during their holy day. Of course – that doesn’t change the date but maybe it will help concentrate Haringey Council’s mind in the future – councils have a choice over which day to pick for by-elections, and that choice should be used with more care and thought.

Sarah Ludford (MEP) took a team in the morning delivering – in the pouring rain! Thanks Sarah.

Much of the political news is still dominated by Peter Mandelson’s return. The Conservatives’ line on it is that ‘Labour must be desperate’. Desperate they may be – but this was a political finesse I really didn’t think Gordon capable of. However – it now looks more and more as if Tony Blair ‘told’ him to go and help. Oh what an ironic twist that one old foe of Gordon’s told him to bring back another old foe to try to save his skin!

Alexandra Palace: what next?

Alexandra PalaceLast week Nigel Scott (Liberal Democrat by-election candidate in the Alexandra by-election) published his plan for the future of Alexandra Palace:

  • Establish a new board with independent, expert trustees representative of local and national interests, with an independent Chair.
  • Ensure proper consultation with residents about the Palace’s future.
  • Refurbish the ice rink, make the Victorian theatre fully usable and multi-purpose, make the historic TV studios an educational visitor attraction and support the organ society’s restoration work.
  • Protect the CUFOS community centre and its valued activities.
  • Make getting to the site via public transport easier (such as Oyster at Alexandra Palace rail station).
  • Provide the trading company with the room and encouragement to thrive, so that expanded charitable activities can be fully-funded.
  • Actively seek funding sources appropriate to the charitable status of the Trust.
  • Clarify the financial contribution of Haringey Council by an annual grant to the charity to cover the costs of maintaining the public road and park.
  • Retain ultimate public control in the interests of public benefit.
  • Fully recognise the increasingly unique value – as London gets ever denser – of Alexandra Palace and Park to local people and Londoners.

A good plan! Alexandra Palace is a cultural and historical icon that needs to be raised above the quagmire of Haringey Labour’s financial and political bungling. As Nigel said:

“Alexandra Palace is a community treasure. Labour’s shady and incompetent dealings with the Palace’s have been fully exposed this week. This must now stop.

“We need a plan that will really engage with the people of Haringey, a plan that will provide independence from Labour’s incompetent meddling with strong independent leadership. We need a restored building that cherishes the Palace’s historic uniqueness and protects the good work carried out by CUFOS.”

One Minute

Went to the theatre last night to see a play directed (and co-produced) by a constituent – Robert Wolstenholme. One Minute (Courtyard Theatre) is the story of the disappearance of a young girl who goes missing in the middle of a crowded West End. The only witness isn’t sure of what she saw. It is completely brilliantly acted and directed and very, very cleverly staged. The set was really ingenious. So – nice break from campaigning for Nigel Scott in the Alexandra by-election – but it was back to the campaign trail first thing this morning – as you can see from the photo.

Extending Oyster Pay As You Go

Started the day campaigning at Alexandra Park Station to bring in Oyster Pay As You Go as soon as possible.

As well as Nigel Scott (our candidate for the by-election in Alexandra ward) and Alexandra Councillors Susan Oatway, Dave Beacham – we also had Caroline Pidgeon who is our Transport Spokesperson on the London Assembly and Denys Robinson Chair of London Region – so it was a big do!

Loads of people took our little petition postcard – so we will be able to keep up pressure on Transport for London (and the Train Operator) who have been a bit tardy with stations north of Finsbury Park in terms of Oyster PAYG. And other Liberal Democrat councillors were out at other stations like Harringay, Hornsey, Bowes Park etc. Onward and upward.

Then visited a delightful supported housing scheme in Wood Green – Raj Kunj – for residents of Asian community. They were so nice and raised lots and lots of issues – chief amongst which is the very short time the lights at the crossing outside their building allows them to get across the main road. Traffic comes whizzing down the main road – very dangerous I think.

Polling day should not be on Yom Kippur

I cannot believe the intransigence of Haringey Council. There is a by-election to be held in Alexandra Ward (cause: Lib Dem Wayne Hoban moving to Worthing) and the Council have put polling day on Yom Kippur. This is the High Holy Day of the Jewish people. The have several alternative days they could choose within the allotted timescale laid down by law – but no – they have chosen Yom Kippur.

Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr Robert Gorrie has made strong representations (many) about this being unacceptable – but Haringey Council have completely refused to change the day! Disgraceful.

We (and I am sure the other political parties) will make every effort to ensure that Jewish residents can get a postal vote and also ask that they self-identify to stop activists knocking on doors inappropriately. But – Haringey Council should be ashamed. And the next time they bang on about inclusion – well, we will know how hollow their commitments really are!

(Meanwhile: glad to say that Nigel Scott is to be the Liberal Democrat candidate – more over on Neil Williams’s blog.)