MP for Hornsey and Wood Green
Here’s my latest Ham and High column, following a great year of working with local residents to protect our services
2013 was a year of people power in Haringey – with thousands of local residents and Liberal Democrats joining forces to protect local services.
At the beginning of the year, the proposed sell off of land at the Whittington Hospital was successfully halted, following a campaign by over 4,500 local residents and the Haringey Liberal Democrats.
Later in the year thousands of Lib Dem petition signers also prevented Royal Mail’s planned closure of Hornsey Sorting Office, and also stopped the threatened loss of local rail services at Hornsey and Harringay stations.
Local High Street traders also made their voices heard, calling for lower High Street parking charges. The Haringey Lib Dems and I backed them, by running a campaign for thirty minutes free parking and holding the Independent Shops Competition to give our best local stores some much deserved publicity.
The North London Waste Authority also finally backtracked on their idea to build a waste plant on the Pinkham Way site, thanks to a great campaign effort by the Pinkham Way Alliance, local residents and the Lib Dems. The NLWA still own the land, though – so we remain vigilant.
Last year was also great for jobs and apprenticeships – with more and more Haringey residents finding work. Since 2010, unemployment is at its lowest level in my constituency (over 1000 less JSA claimants), and youth unemployment has fallen by a third.
The apprenticeship event I ran this year was very popular and successful. I was so impressed with the ambition and drive of the young people who attended – and so were the employers. One Haringey young person was snapped up by an employer just a day after the event!
Looking forward to next year, I hope for more hard work and successes for the Lib Dems and people power. And one date in particular springs to mind – May 22nd, the next round of local elections.
Last year, Haringey Council (which is currently run by Labour) failed to deliver on many key local services. Our roads are in a state, two thirds of residents are dissatisfied with their rubbish collections, and Childrens Services has been tarnished with more child protection scandals.
And at the same time, the Labour-run Council continues to waste money. £3.7 million in shockingly large bonuses were dished out to repairs staff – while essential repair work to local homes was cancelled. It’s no wonder Haringey Council is the fourth most complained about in the country.
That’s why I want to see a change in how our local services are run and how our Council Tax money is spent.
And after this great year of local delivery and working with residents, I hope it’s the Haringey Liberal Democrats that take control of Haringey Council, so they can work with residents to fix Haringey for good.
Now, that really would be a happy new year!
I have just sent the below comment to the local papers regarding the North London Waste Authority’s (NLWA) decision to end their procurement process for long term waste management services.
In short – they have decided to keep using the waste facility in Edmonton and keep waste management under control of the local authority (rather than contract them out to a private bidder).
There are now no current plans to use the Pinkham Way site for waste management. I’d like to echo the words of the Pinkham Way Alliance: ‘This is very good news!’
Here’s what I’ve told the local papers:
“The decision to end the procurement for long-term waste management in North London marks a great victory for the Pinkham Way Alliance, the local Liberal Democrats and local residents, who have campaigned hard against the NLWA’s plans.
“From day one, the whole process has been a farce and the strategy deeply flawed. The plan to use Pinkham Way for a waste plant, for instance, was simply inappropriate. They should have been looking at ways to reduce wastage – not thinking of building huge incinerators in unsuitable places.
“It’s all very well the NLWA saying they’re saving us money now by keeping waste management services ‘in house’ – but what about the public money wasted to date on their flawed plans?
“I am of course glad that the NLWA has finally seen sense – but it shouldn’t have taken this long to realise their existing Edmonton site would be suitable.
“We must remain vigilant, though. Although there are now no immediate plans to use the Pinkham Way site, it is still an asset of the NLWA, and different plans to use the site may surface in the future.
“The local Lib Dems and I will be sure to keep residents updated as and when we receive information.”
Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone has encouraged local residents to sign the Pinkham Way Alliance’s current petition to halt the £3 billion waste contract for North London.
The North London Waste Authority is intending to award a 30 year waste contract worth £3 billion for the management of waste across all seven of its member boroughs – including Haringey.
The Alliance assert that the contract is deeply flawed, as it is based on waste predictions for 30 years ahead – absurdly far in advance and already shown to be inaccurate and based on guesstimates.
The new contract could also see renewed plans for a waste facility on Pinkham Way.
The MP for Hornsey and Wood Green and the PWA have teamed up before, and successfully stopped the building of a massive waste plant on the Pinkham Way site.
Lynne Featherstone MP commented:
“Last year, we successfully prevented the building of a completely unsuitable waste plant – but the fight goes on.
“The Haringey Lib Dems and I are now supporting the PWA’s latest petition – and encouraging residents to do the same.”
Lynne Featherstone MP met with Duncan Wilson, the Chief Executive of Alexandra Palace, today. The local landmark recently secured funding of £16.8million to regenerate the Palace from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The local MP was updated on plans for the regeneration work, which is scheduled for completion in 2017 and will include a renovation of the theatre and the BBC television studios. The lighting in the great hall will also be restored and made more energy efficient.
Lynne was also informed about upcoming events at the Palace this year such as the Red Bull Soap Box Rally and the 150th Anniversary of the park. Celebrations will feature local bands, hot air ballooning, cricket and archery.
After the meeting Lynne Featherstone MP said:
“I am thrilled that Alexandra Palace has secured funding for its regeneration. It is a wonderful building and a source of great pride for the community. I’m very excited to see it return to its glory days.
“I wish them every success with the 150th anniversary celebrations this year and I look forward to seeing the end result of the regeneration project in 2017.”
Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, today met with children from Rhodes Avenue Primary School to talk about the Global Campaign for Education UK’s ‘Send my Friend to School’ campaign.
The entire school came out to greet the local MP, visiting in both her capacity as a local MP and as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department of International Development. Each child had made a paper model of their perfect teacher which were shown to the MP as she arrived.
The MP for Hornsey and Wood Green made a short speech about the importance of schooling for all children across the world and the UK’s role in helping that become reality. Lynne answered questions from the children about education and the Millennium Development Goals after which the children sang a short song.
In one class the children made a presentation about what makes a good teacher, while another year group outlined to Lynne how important it is to have good teachers.
The Minister for the Department of International Development was then handed letters written by the children on the value of a good education.
After the visit, Lynne Featherstone commented:
“It was wonderful to visit the children at Rhodes Avenue Primary School today and I was overwhelmed by their welcome.
“They have really taken the ‘Send my Friend to School’ campaign to heart and it is clear that they feel very strongly about it. I feel hugely proud to see a local Hornsey and Wood Green school engaging with such an important issue.
“It was a true pleasure to see the hard work they have put into making the models and writing their letters about the value of teachers internationally. A very special visit.”
Lynne Featherstone MP visited the Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen School for Volunteers last Friday and spent time talking to those currently training at the school.
Run by local resident, Martin Stone, the soup kitchen was opened in 1994. Based at the Muswell Hill Baptist Church, volunteers run the centre five nights a week with the kitchen serving around 8,000 meals a year.
The training programme at the school enables volunteers to learn about working with people who have multiple needs. The school also trains guests of the Soup Kitchen who have started to volunteer themselves in the areas of housing, housing law and supporting people.
After the event, Lynne Featherstone MP commented:
“It was a pleasure to see the work that is being done at the soup kitchen and to meet the volunteers training at the school. I would like to thank Martin for inviting me down to see the great job they are doing.
“It is a wonderful local initiative both in terms of the soup kitchen itself and the teaching that the school offers. I wish the volunteers every success with their studies.”
The survey asks residents for their views on local and national issues, and whether they have any problems they would like the local MP’s assistance with.
In addition, the survey offers residents the chance to sign the Liberal Democrat petition to protect our local health services.
Last year, the survey drew several thousand responses. Hundreds of issues raised by residents were followed up on by the MP and her casework team.
Residents can also fill in this year’s survey online (see below)
Commenting, Lynne Featherstone MP said:
“The annual survey is a great way for residents to have their voices heard on matters ranging from national Lib Dem policy to our local Lib Dem campaigns.
“We all know that the Labour-run Council are not very good at keeping our roads and pavements safe, or keeping our area tidy. That’s why we ask residents whether they have any issues with litter, damaged pavements or potholes on their road.
“All completed surveys are looked at and we will attempt to resolve any issues raised. I hope as many residents as possible take the opportunity to fill it in!”
NB Surveys are broken down by wards. check which ward you live in here: http://www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/ and click on the relevant link here:
Wood Green (Noel Park & Woodside) Residents: http://bit.ly/WoodGreenAnnualSurvey
Hornsey Residents: http://bit.ly/HOannualsurvey
Stroud Green Residents: http://bit.ly/SGAnnualsurvey
Highgate Residents: http://bit.ly/HGannualsurvey
Fortis Green Residents: http://bit.ly/FGwardannualsurvey
Muswell Hill Residents: http://bit.ly/MHannualsurvey
Crouch End Residents: http://bit.ly/CEannualsurvey
Bounds Green Residents: http://bit.ly/BGannualsurvey
Alexandra Residents: http://bit.ly/LFannualsurvey
What fantastic news to wake up to – Alexandra Palace has been awarded an £800k grant to get its restoration plans off the ground! This will be followed by a whopping £16.8million for construction work, once the plans have been finalised.
The team at Ally Pally want to transform the eastern wing, by bringing the Victorian theatre and BBC studios back to life and making it accessible to the public.
The local Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for 15 years for proper plans to revamp the Palace and Park. It hasn’t been an easy ride – as the Labour-run Council bungled decision after decision, trying to sell off the landmark and costing the taxpayers millions in the process. But finally, the Palace is now moving in the right direction.
Duncan Wilson, the Chief Executive of Alexandra Park and Palace has said that: “The ‘People’s Palace’ in its entirety can now become a reality and we are thrilled that the HLF have endorsed our plans for its future.”
I am so happy, and couldn’t agree more!
Here is the quote I sent to the press first thing this morning –
“Congratulations to the team at Alexandra Palace, who have successfully secured millions in funding for the historic site.
“From the start, the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund was well researched and involved local people. The proposals for the theatre and TV Studios attracted particularly strong support in the public consultation – so it’s great to see them at the centre of the restoration plans.
“After years of turmoil, the Palace is now well and truly on the right track and has taken a great step towards securing a long term future. Thank you to the Alexandra Palace team, and to the Heritage Lottery Fund. I can’t wait to see the results.”
Ps – I recently described Alexandra Palace as my favourite landmark, and made a recording as part of the ‘London Beyond Sight’ project. You can listen to it here.
Here’s my most recent Ham and High Column on Policing in Haringey
Policing in Haringey is undergoing major changes. This all started last year, when the Conservative Mayor of London announced that changes would be made to policing in Haringey and across the city.
In the current economic climate, changes have to be made to make policing more efficient and cost effective. But from day one, the Lib Dems were clear that any changes should not have a negative impact on public access to the police.
Police front counters, for instance, are vital local services – allowing victims to go and report crimes face to face, in a safe and secure environment. We all hope that we will never have to visit one, but it is certainly reassuring to know they’re there.
So, when the Mayor mentioned that front counters might be closed and replaced with contact points, we started expressing our concern and asking questions.
Straight away, Lib Dem London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon asked the Mayor for a guarantee that there would be no time gap between a front counter closing and new contact point opening.
The Mayor gave this guarantee, and went on to say that no front counter would be lost without an ‘equivalent or indeed better’ replacement – open for the same number of hours.
During the consultation period, the Haringey Lib Dems and I called on the Mayor to keep to his word.
You can imagine our disappointment and anger when the Mayor announced his final plans, which include the closure of Muswell Hill volunteer counter. This would leave a huge chunk of the borough without proper access to front counter services.
Yes – changes had to be made, but not like this.
In response, I have launched a petition, calling on the Mayor to retain a local base for the Safer Neighbourhood Team on, or near, Muswell Hill Broadway with an accessible front counter for the public to report crimes.
Hundreds have signed already, and residents can add their names here: http://bit.ly/MuswellHillPolice
After launching the petition, I met with Haringey’s new Borough Commander – Victor Olisa. I was very pleased to hear that he had contacted the volunteers and is keen to keep a police presence in Muswell Hill. But Haringey Police need help finding a new location for the service – as the Met will be selling the building it currently operates from.
So, Haringey Police are willing to keep the volunteer counter service, but only if a suitable location can be found. Please contact me if you have any ideas for a suitable location for a front counter service in or around Muswell Hill.
We also saved this very front counter once before. With enough support from residents and Haringey Police, we can do the same again.
The front counter – which is run by volunteers – was earmarked for closure by the London Mayor as part of his ‘Crime Plan for Haringey.’
The Liberal Democrat MP launched a petition last week, calling on the Conservative Mayor of London and the Metropolitan Police to maintain a front counter service and police base in Muswell Hill.
During the meeting, the Borough Commander said he had spoken to the 70 volunteers who staff the front counter. He affirmed his commitment to keeping the volunteers and a contact point, despite the Mayor’s decision to sell the building that the counter currently operates in.
The Borough Commander further confirmed that Haringey Police are looking for a suitable replacement premises in Muswell Hill. In the mean time, the volunteers will operate from the safer neighbourhood team base in East Finchley.
Lynne Featherstone MP commented:
“It was fantastic to see the Borough Commander’s enthusiasm for keeping a police contact point staffed by volunteers in Muswell Hill.
“This is a vital local service and it would be such a shame to lose it. Residents should always have access to a local and safe place, where they can report crimes face to face.
“All we need now is a suitable premises for the front counter. It must be fully accessible and have at least two rooms. If anyone has any suggestions, please do let me know so I can pass these on to the police.”