Liberal Democrats take Whittington Petition to Downing Street

Lynne Featherstone and Robert Gorrie present Whittington petitionTo get the Prime Minister to intervene and stop the Whittington A&E being closed down, local Liberal Democrats Lynne Featherstone MP and Councillor Robert Gorrie presented the Whittington Petition to Downing Street.

The petition has been supported by over 2,200 local residents, with over 1000 people signing it in the first 48 hours alone.

Lynne Featherstone will also continue the fight against the threat of closure, by hosting a public meeting on Thursday the 4th March, at Greig City Academy in Hornsey, where local residents will get a chance to ask health care bosses directly about the threat to their A&E.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“I want the Prime Minister to sit up and take notice – it’s this Labour government that has landed us here in the first place. With such evident strong support and local outrage at the risk of closure, I hope he will see no option but to stop this threat once and for all.

“Thank you everyone who signed the petition – please continue to support the campaign by coming along to my meeting next Thursday. Together, united, we can show them what madness closure would be.”

Councillor Robert Gorrie, leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats, adds:

“The enormous groundswell of support against A&E closures will mean that soon the government and the NHS will no longer be able to ignore local residents. We will continue to fight and I hope local campaigners will too.”

Reaction to Ofsted report into Haringey's Children's Services

Commenting on the Ofsted update report on safeguarding in Haringey Council’s Children’s Service,  Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey & Wood Green, says:

“Clearly, a lot of people have been working hard, so that Haringey can achieve the basic service of protecting children.

“I tentatively welcome progress, but stuck in my mind is the fact that Ofsted gave this Children’s Service three stars weeks after Baby Peter died.

“There are clearly, still, significant shortcomings in key front-line services and I will continue to press for more openness and transparency, so we can have lasting confidence that they are getting it right.”

Councillor Robert Gorrie, Leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats, adds:

“I can only thank the committed efforts of the staff who are desperately trying to get this service up to scratch.

“However, I remain deeply concerned that only one in three vital checks of children at risk are happening on time.  To me, this is deeply unsatisfactory and not of a high enough standard to prevent another child falling through the safety net.”

Lynne Featherstone and Robert Gorrie join cookery class for Salt Awareness Week

Robert Gorrie and Lynne Featherstone cooking as part of Salt Awareness WeekTo help mark Salt Awareness Week (1-7 February), Lynne Featherstone MP and Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Gorrie joined local residents at a special cookery class at the Kurdish Community Centre in Hornsey last Friday.

The Cook and Eat cookery class is part of a 6 week programme, run by the local health service, to spread information about healthy eating. This week there was a special focus on the risks to residents’ health from eating too much salt. Reducing the amount of salt in the diet can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

Lynne Featherstone and Robert Gorrie both helped Kurdish and Somali residents cooking traditional dishes and chatted with nutritionists, dieticians and local residents about the dangers of too much salt in a diet.

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

“This is such a great environment for learning about healthy eating. We cooked some yummy Somali and Kurdish food, but also learnt the serious message that too much salt in your diet can be harmful.

“A lot of people might not know that high levels of salt can be dangerous in the long run. Helping to spread information in a friendly environment like this can do wonders for people’s long term well being. It’s really just about being salt aware. And the food can still taste amazing.”

Councillor Robert Gorrie, Leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats, adds:

“These cookery classes are really great. It’s a fantastic place to share recipes and learn to cook healthy and exotic dishes on a limited budget, not to mention eating fantastic food and meeting new people. It’s really been great.”

Jack Petchey Speak Out speaking competition

This year, the Jack Petchey Speak Out speaking competition was hosted by Alexandra Park School. Year 10 (14 – 15 years of age) students from all over Haringey came together to compete in the Regional Final Stage. I was meant to have been a judge – but due to a debate on Violence Against Women being put in for yesterday afternoon – it meant I would not make it for the briefing of judges and the first half of the speakers – but would be there to listen to the last half, give out certificates to all and the prizes to the winners.

My LibDem colleague, Leader of the LibDem Group on Haringey, stepped ably into the breach.

This year, 20,000 year 10 teenagers from every state school in London and Essex will receive a day’s training in the skills of public speaking. As part of the project each young speaker has the opportunity to Speak Out on any topic they feel strongly about.

And wow – when I walked into the hall – the blast of energy and enthusiasm was electric. I only heard the last six speakers but they were fantastic. They spoke without notes – and what was electrifying – was that they used something inside themselves and their experience – to make their point. Mighty powerful.

There was a sharp intake of breath when one young speaker who was making the point that young people need to think for themselves and be an individual and not just accept being what other people tell you to be said that for two seconds her brother didn’t use his brain, joined in a group committing a crime, and spent the next 18 months in prison. That brought it home.

And the young man who won was talking about how a smile begets a smile. But a frown, begets a grimace, begets a snarl, begets a fist, begets a knife. And then said that his brother was shot and died. But if the beginning of the chain that led to his brother’s death had been a smile – his brother would not have died.

Powerful stuff indeed.

Well done to all the Year 10s who took part and to all those who put in so much time and effort to organise it and making the roaring success it was.

Liberal Democrats welcome Ally Pally decision

Last night’s landmark decision by the Board of Trustees, to abandon the search for a single developer for Alexandra Palace, has been welcomed by local Liberal Democrats. Yesterday the Ally Pally Board agreed to a more realistic and ‘organic’ approach towards development at the Palace, rather than through one developer.

The Liberal Democrats hope that the important decision now draws a line under repeated and failed attempts, driven by the Labour Council, to impose a ‘big bang’ development solution on the much-loved Palace.  This strategy led to the failed deal with Firoka, a mistake that has already cost local taxpayers millions of pounds. The Palace was only saved by a successful judicial review driven by local campaigners, and has since endured damning reports on woefully lax governance arrangements that were exposed in the fiasco.

Cllr Robert Gorrie, Leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats, comments:

“Finally, we are seeing some much-overdue sense prevailing at Alexandra Palace. Local taxpayers lost millions of pounds when the Labour decided to flog the Palace off, without regard for the consequences or the views of local residents. That expensive fiasco highlighted the virtual collapse of effective governance at Alexandra Palace and has prompted a number of long-overdue changes in personnel and approach.

“I am glad that there is recognition of the flaws in the previous approach.  However, a successful and sustainable future for Alexandra Palace will only come with independence from Haringey Council and the leadership of independent trustees.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

“The botched Firoka deal was never going to be in the best interests of the residents of Haringey. Campaigners and Liberal Democrats told Haringey Council this at the time, yet they forged ahead on a path which was only doomed to failure.

“I welcome the news that a new path has been set and I look forward to a revived Alexandra Palace for the people of Haringey to enjoy.”

Revealed: the 26 "priority one" roads that Haringey Council failed to grit

As the cold snap tightens its grip, local MP Lynne Featherstone has sent Haringey Council bosses a list of 26 “priority one” roads and a further 64 “priority two” roads in Haringey that were not gritted during December’s snowfall. Local Liberal Democrats have said that this calls into question Haringey Council’s ability to cope with the severe weather and have demanded that HaringeyCouncil is better equipped.

The lists, which were put together after over 200 residents responded to Lynne Featherstone’s call for evidence, shows how widespread dissatisfaction with gritting of local roads has been.  The list shows that 26 of the roads reported are “priority one” roads, despite Haringey Council saying that these are supposed to be gritted first as they are major thoroughfares and bus routes.

Earlier in the week, Lynne Featherstone and Cllr Robert Gorrie contacted Haringey Council, demanding that more grit be made available so local residents can grit untreated pavements after reports that grit bins were empty.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“It’s deeply worrying that so many roads which Haringey Council said would be prioritised were not treated properly after the first heavy snowfall in December. Now that the cold weather is continuing I hope that Haringey Council learns from its mistakes and ensures that these major routes are clear and safe.

“It’s clear that better preparations are needed to protect residents from the major risk of accidents and falls that come with the icy roads and pavements.”

Martin Newton, Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, adds:

“Having seen how poorly stocked the grit bins in Muswell Hill and in many other places throughout the borough are, I really worry that residents, especially the elderly and vulnerable, are put at risk every time they leave their homes.

“The pavements are so icy and residents need to have the opportunity to treat the surface themselves if Haringey Council is not doing it for them.”

The 26 “priority one” roads:

Albert Road, N22
Alexandra Park Road, N22
The Avenue, N8
Cranley Gardens, N10
Crouch End Hill, N8
Crouch Hill, N8
Dukes Avenue, N10
Elmfield Avenue, N8
Ferme Park Road, N4, N8
Fortis Green, N10
Fortis Green Road, N10
Inderwick Road, N8
Middle Lane, N8
Mount View Road, N4
Muswell Hill Broadway, N10
Muswell Hill Road, N6
North Hill, N6
Oakfield Road, N4
Ridge Road, N8
Rokesly Avenue, N8
Shepherds Hill, N6
Station Road, N22
Weston Park, N8
Woodside Avenue, N6
Woodland Rise, N10
Southwood Lane, N6

The 64 “priority two” roads:

Beech Drive, N22
Avenue Road, N15
Arcadian Gardens, N22
Berners Road, N22
Birkbeck Road, N17
Blake Road, N11
Bloomfield Road, N6
Causton Road, N6
Cecile Park, N8
Causton Road, N6
Cavendish Road, N4
The Chine, N10
Cholmeley Crescent, N6
Cholmeley Park, N6
Claremont Road, N6
Coolhurst Road, N8
Cranbrook Park, N22
Crescent Road, N8
Cromwell Avenue, N6
Crouch Hall Road, N8
Earlham Grove, N22
Etheldene Avenue, N10
Farrer Road, N8
Florence Road, N4
Gathorne Road, N22
Gisburn Road, N8
Gladwell Road, N8
Glasslyn Road, N8
Granville Road, N4
Grasmere Road, N10
Grosvenor Gardens, N10
Grove Avenue, N10
Grove House Road, N8
Haringey Road, N8
Hermiston Avenue, N8
Highgate Avenue, N6
Langdon Park Road, N6
Lascotts Road, N22
Lyndhurst Road, N22
Montenotte Road, N8
Muswell Avenue, N10
Myddleton Rd, N22
Nightingale Road, N22
Onslow Gardens, N10
Palmerston Road, N22
Park Avenue South, N8
Parkhurst Road, N17
Roseberry Road, N10
Southwood Avenue, N6
Southwood Lawn Road, N22
Stanhope Gardens, N6
St Albans Crescent, N22
St James’s Lane, N10
Sylvan Avenue, N22
Talbot Road, N22
Tivoli Road, N8
Twyford Avenue, N2
Western Road, N22
Wolseley Road, N8
Womersley Road, N8
Woodfield Way, N11
Woodside Road, N22
Woodstock Road, N4
Vallance Road, N22

Concern raised over empty grit bins as snow set to return

Local Liberal Democrats have raised concerns for the safety of local residents during the ongoing cold snap after it was found that local grit bins are empty – just as more snow and icy conditions are set to return. Local councillor, Richard Wilson, has demanded action from Haringey Council after a spot inspection in Stroud Green ward yesterday (Monday) found that all grit bins were empty.

MP Lynne Featherstone and Cllr Robert Gorrie have today also urgently demanded that Haringey Council takes extra measures to grit priority roads, and ensure there is salt or grit available for non-priority roads.

Cllr Richard Wilson, Stroud Green, comments:

“Given the chaos caused by the snow before Christmas, I’m surprised that the grit bins in Stroud Green are empty. This denies local residents the opportunity to grit treacherous sections of pavement.  I’ve demanded that Haringey Council fill these bins as soon as possible.”

Lynne Featherstone MP, adds:

“From the many emails and phone calls from local residents following the last snowfall, where many told me of priority roads not being gritted or salted, I’m really concerned that we might see a repeat this week.

“But with more advance warning this time, I certainly hope Haringey Council ensures that Haringey’s roads and pavements are safer.”

Haringey Council ignores views of sheltered housing residents

Labour-run Haringey Council last week decided to continue with an unpopular decision that may result in the eviction of vulnerable and elderly tenants from council supported housing. Local Liberal Democrats expressed disappointment, after Haringey Council’s watchdog committee upheld the cabinet decision to progress plans for the redevelopment of supported housing at Protheroe House, and the further review of similar schemes at Larkspur Close and Stokely Court.

Cllr Robert Gorrie, who led the Liberal Democrat ‘call-in’, said that residents’ views had been completely ignored and that the decision was being made in response to financial pressures in the Decent Homes programme, rather than in the best interest of tenants.

He urged the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to recommend that the cabinet should make residents’ wishes central to the decision making process, protect the Decent Homes funding for these properties and take no action against tenants until an Older Persons Housing Strategy, expected in 2010, decided whether there was a need for change.

However, after nearly three hours of discussion and criticism at the meeting from members of both parties about how the decision had been made and the position in which it left residents, the Labour majority on the committee decided to uphold the Cabinet’s decision.

Cllr Robert Gorrie (Hornsey ward) comments:

“After saying that they were unhappy with the decision and accepting it was not the decision residents wanted, Labour members did nothing to challenge their Labour cabinet colleagues.

“It was a real shame to see that, after a three hour debate, nothing has happened and the rights and wishes of residents have been ignored yet again.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

”Labour have once again failed to put residents and vulnerable tenants at the heart of their decision.”

Haringey Council rated as one of the worst in the country

Commenting on Audit Commission’s finding that significant concerns remain for Safeguarding Children in the borough and giving Haringey Council a 1 out of 4 ‘Poor’ rating, Cllr Robert Gorrie, Leader of Haringey Liberal Democrat opposition group, said:

“It is unforgivable that Haringey Council is still failing the most vulnerable people in our borough; from children at risk to those in desperate housing need.

“The staff seem to be trying their best, but Labour are failing to provide the leadership so sorely needed. Labour have clearly become part of problem and not the solution.

“Local residents desperately need a fresh start that can only come with a party that hasn’t been in charge for last 40 years.”

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

“This is crushing blow for the Labour Government and Labour administration. Despite their best efforts Haringey Council is still being rated as one of the worst performing councils in the country. Only wholesale change can turn this around and next year’s Council elections offer the only chance for real change.”

Liberal Democrats force review to support residents in sheltered housing

Local Liberal Democrats have forced a review of the Labour administration’s decision to plough ahead with plans which threaten tenants’ long-term security in Haringey Council supported housing. Liberal Democrats are demanding that the decision is changed in order to put the views of residents first.

On 17 November 2009 the Labour cabinet rubber-stamped proposals to review supported housing at Campbell Court, Larkspur Close, Stokely Court and Protheroe House despite a huge outcry from local tenants’ and residents’ associations.

A special meeting of Haringey Council’s ‘watchdog’ committee will now be held on 9 December 2009 following intervention by Liberal Democrats and will discuss concerns over inadequate consultation of residents, the reason why the four identified sheltered housing blocks have been targeted above others and whether the decision goes against Council priorities.

Liberal Democrats are calling for no changes to the status of any sheltered housing schemes until the Older Person’s Housing Strategy is completed in December 2010, that any money earmarked for sheltered housing, under the Decent Homes programme, should be ring fenced and any decision should only be made in the best interests of the residents currently living in the sheltered housing schemes.

Cllr Robert Gorrie comments:

“It was clear from the Cabinet meeting that the way in which Haringey Council is running roughshod over the views of residents currently living in Stokely Court, Campbell Court, Larkspur Close and Protheroe House is not right.

“We have listened to residents living in these blocks and have decided that Haringey Council needs to reconsider its decision.

“Haringey Council has failed to consult with residents adequately and consistently, they have failed to provide any meaningful alternative for residents living in the sheltered housing and failed to put residents first in this decision.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

“Haringey Council should be listening to residents in sheltered housing not giving them the extra worry of uncertainty over the future of their homes.”