MP for Hornsey and Wood Green
Haringey Liberal Democrats are urging residents to take part in a statutory consultation on plans to provide new traffic calming measures and 20mph limits in the Palace Gates area of Alexandra ward.
All households in the consultation area received documents from Haringey Council on 4 March 2010 to take part before the deadline for responses on 25 March 2010.
The consultation marks the last step of a six year campaign by Liberal Democrats and local residents, to improve road safety in the area. The ban on heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), which was part of the successful campaign, was finalised at the beginning of the year.
Cllr Susan Oatway (Alexandra) comments:
“This is one of the final steps in our six year campaign, backed by local residents, to improve road safety in the Palace Gates area. I urge all residents to take part, as your views and comments matter.”
Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, adds:
“After the successful agreement of the HGV ban, this new consultation will give local residents the opportunity to make our roads safer.”
To help celebrate the fantastic work students have been doing on road safety and announce the winners of a road safety sign competition, Lynne Featherstone MP visited a special assembly at Alexandra Primary School.
The Hornsey and Wood Green MP gave out prizes to the competition winners, Haidi and Zazia, who not only won brand new bikes, but also saw their winning designs put on road signs that will appear outside the Wood Green school.
The special assembly was the culmination of a joint effort between the school, the local police and neighbourhood management to help teach the children about road safety.
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“The winning designs are just fabulous and will hopefully make passing motorists slow down and think twice about road safety so close to the school.
“This area sees a lot of heavy traffic and it’s extra important for kids who live and go to school in such a busy place to know how to stay safe.
“And teaching kids about traffic awareness in this fun and innovative way really seems to work!”
Full credit to Rachel Tyndall (Chair of the North London Central Review Panel) for sending me the NCL Strategy Plan for our local health services. I had heard that these had been submitted to NHS London and asked for a copy – and it was given to me virtually immediately. I have circulated the document for information.
The content is of concern. First let me say – this is a long, technical document – in which the arguments are laid out for the configuration of health services across five boroughs and between five hospitals: Barnet, Royal Free, North Mids, UCLH and the Whittington. Ms Tyndall has said that a more accessible version for public consumption will be provided in due course.
In the appendix, are laid out, seven ‘scenarios’. This is where the fight to Save the Whittington A&E will come – if these are the ‘options’ that come for public consultation next autumn.
The seven ‘scenarios’ demonstrate different configurations between the five hospitals as to what services will be provided from each hospital. It is about a total provision – obviously – not just A&E. Suffice to say that four out of the seven ‘scenarios’ show an end to 24/7 A&E at the Whittington. Three show retention of 24/7 A&E.
Interestingly two of the ‘scenarios’ show a reduction to 16 hours A&E – however – from the minutes of the Board Meeting of the Council of Governors of the Whittington it is quite clear that the the 16 hour A&E is not a real option. The actual wording from the minutes of the meeting of the Council of Governors of the Whittington reads (and I quote directly):
Very importantly NCL and the Whittington have ruled out an option where the Whittington has an A&E with reduced opening time eg 16hours per day. This leaves options where either the full 24 hour A&E is retained or there is no A&E at all. The Whittington might then have an urgent care centre.
So – I don’t know why NCL have included two options showing a 16 hour A&E as clearly that has already been ruled out. This makes me wonder if options have been put in that are not really and truly under consideration but are there to make two of the options look better than they are – as they seem to offer some A&E rather than none. I will seek clarification on this seemingly conflicting evidence.
The greater problem for all of us fighting to save the Whittington A&E – is that as long as there are any ‘scenarios’ that don’t retain 24 hour A&E – we are in jeopardy. So – we need the public consultation next autumn to simply ask those who use the Whittington whether we want to retain the 24 A&E service or whether we would prefer the alternative range of provision at the polyclinic, GP extra hours, urgent care centre etc favoured by NCL and the Trusts.
Anything else opens the way to closure of A&E at the Whittington.
At this point – it is a battle to make sure whatever options finally come forward for consultation- that if local people want to retain a 24 hour A&E at the Whittington – it is retained!
Finally, after a long campaign to get Oyster Pay As You Go (PAYG) to work from tube to overground trains – we have lift off. To test the reality of Oyster being extended on Haringey’s train services, I went to Alexandra Palace Station to have a go (before the snow!). It worked – I tapped in and I tapped out! Here’s the clip:
So that’s the very good news at long last. However, the bad news is that if you have a Travelcard with limited zones and you want to go beyond them, you will need another electronic card – an Oyster Extension Permit.
This is unnecessarily complicated and First Capital Connect should have been able to come up with another solution. But given it is the system – and whilst I don’t wish to be overtly rude – First Capital Connect must be mad. You have to purchase an Oyster Extension Permit, but they are not going to be sold from ticket offices at overland stations!
Yes, that’s right – if you want this sort of ticket to use the trains, the train company won’t sell it to you.
Instead you will have to buy them at tube stations or at corner shops which carry the Oyster sign. It’s as if First Capital Connect doesn’t actually want people to get hold of the card!
Anyway it’s a New Year, and this is basically a good news story, so I will temporarily stop railing at First Capital Connect and end on that bad pun.
In a bid to support local students developing their communication skills, local MP Lynne Featherstone last week judged a debating competition at Alexandra Park School.
The Liberal Democrat MP was one of three judges helping to set the score in the first round of the school’s Mace Debating competition, between six north London schools. The competition, which took place between North London schools Queen Elizabeth’s, Ashmole, Alexandra Park, Haberdashers, St John’s and Enfield County, debated motions on making voting compulsory, assassinating dictators and randomly testing school pupils for drugs.
Lynne Featherstone MP comments: “It was fascinating to see how skilfully and persuasively the students debated the motions. It was a really tricky one to judge, as it’s clear we’re dealing with a bunch of exceptionally bright and talented local students.
“Developing debating skills is a great way to help structure thoughts and become a better communicator- and I think I have picked up a few tricks that might come in handy in the commons chamber! It was a hugely entertaining evening- so thanks!”
Nine year old Aylin Acarturk was today presented with a special prize by Lynne Featherstone MP at Rhodes Avenue School’s Assembly after winning this year’s Christmas card competition.
The year four student’s picture, of Santa going ice skating at Ally Pally, was chosen as the best entry in this year’s competition, themed ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ and will feature on thousands of Christmas cards sent out to local people by the Liberal Democrat MP.
Lynne Featherstone was sent hundreds of entries from primary school students across the area, and, in addition to the winning entry, three runners-up were selected, whose pictures will appear on the back of the card. These are: Clementine Mason from Highgate Primary, Anaiya Dixon-McLoughlin from St Mary’s Junior School, and Heber Luwawu from Nightingale Primary.
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“I was really grabbed by Aylin’s picture – it’s got great colours and it makes me just want to join Santa as he heads into the ice rink, skates in one hand and presents in the other!
“Aylin certainly has a fantastic talent – and she’s clearly not the only one. I’ve had to choose from some really amazing entries this year – and just want to say thank you so much to the schools and the children, for making this year’s Christmas card so special!”
Here’s my latest column for the Muswell Hill Flyer and Highgate Handbook:
Finally I managed to get Transport for London (TfL), Haringey Primary Care Trust (part of the NHS) and me together in the same place to bang heads together about the need for better bus links to the new Community Health Centre on the old Hornsey Central Hospital site.
We have this wonderful new facility but, despite the transport issues being raised as a key issue at every public and private meeting (literally for years) by many people, nothing has been properly planned, delivered – or even promised for the future.
And of course now the new Health Centre is here – and operational – but not a new bus in sight. Loads of people joined in my campaign for a new bus to enable them to access the new centre when referred there from wherever they live in Highgate, Crouch End, Muswell Hill, Fortis Green or Alexandra wards by their own GP.
Imagine my shock when TfL said they had no idea that there were services were already being provided (with lots more to come) which would bring people from all over the west of Hornsey & Wood Green to the new facility. TfL seemed to be under the illusion that the only thing happening was that two GP practices had moved in and only they would need transport.
To be honest – I couldn’t believe it!
Given the promises on transport, the supposed discussions on transport – to be sitting there listening to the two key agencies basically saying that there was such a gap in communication that TfL didn’t know that there was an ongoing and expanding need for access to the site from provision of new services on the site was truly shocking.
From this ‘discovery’ TfL have now agreed to take away the issue and look at it properly. At least they now both seem to understand there is a problem with providing a major new health facility with no extra transport provision.
I have been contacted by many local people on the back of our campaign giving examples of problems they have encountered. One example is a team who have already moved into the new facility and whose clients will commonly have reduced mobility – albeit still very capable of getting on a bus if it can deliver them near to the health centre – are concerned about how their patients will get to them.
Another example is that of one local health worker who has contact with people with very differing needs in the borough who wrote to me to say that a number of people she is in contact with through her work have mentioned their concerns about the lack of usable transport links to the new site.
I don’t know what on earth has been going on – but you can bet my language to both the Chair of Haringey PCT and Peter Hendy (Commissioner of Transport in London) will be pretty strong as I bring this smartly to their attention.
Clearly this is a mess – and I just hope that both Haringey PCT and TfL sort it out now they have acknowledged that they haven’t even been looking at the right problem.
I was shocked by the leaked letter (see my earlier post) that showed the Whittington would lose it’s A & E department under all four options being put forward for the reorganisation of health services in what is called London North Central (LNC) Sector of the Strategic Health Authority (Islington, Camden, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey).
I had not been reassured by the hasty press release by LNC saying that the first letter had been confusing and re-issuing a version which changed the Whittington’s fate to being designated a ‘local hospital’ in the options rather than mentioning A& E at all.
‘Local Hospital’ if you look up its meaning on the Department of Health website means that A& E would be reduced to effectively ‘urgent care’ for between 8 and 16 hours per day with no emergency surgery on site. Given the level of need locally – the idea of people having to travel to the Royal Free which has appalling public transport access – does not seem to be designed with local people in mind at all.
Moreover, Haringey which doesn’t actually have a hospital, relies on both the Whittington and The North Middlesex for A & E – and the North Middlesex’ A & E is also under threat in one of the current four options.
Anyway – today I had urgent meetings with both LNC (Stephen Conroy) and the Chief Exec of the Whittington (Rob Larkman) – separately. In terms of LNC – Mr Conroy was very keen to emphasise that nothing was final, that options were still being discussed and drawn up, that no decisions had been taken – and that the options (whatever they ended up as) would go to the Review Panel in December and pre-consultation in January. To avoid the elections – the public consultation on the options would be in September 2010. So if the letter hadn’t been leaked – local people would not have had any say before the election.
The proposals are all around what should be provided where and which of UCH, The Royal Free, Barnet, North Midds, The Whittington and Chase Farm would become ‘major acute’ hospitals and which local.
When I pushed for assurance that the 24 hour A & E service at the Whittington would not be terminated – Mr Conroy could not and would not give that assurance.
I also asked him what autonomy and status the Whittington Board had in all of this. From his answer it is quite clear that whilst the Whittington Board’s opinions are important, they are considered ‘organisationally loyal’ and when looking at the bigger picture of service needs in the ‘sector’ it would be the LCN who would take the decisions.
We also pushed (I was accompanied by Cllr Nigel Scott, LibDem local health spokesperson and Ed Butcher, my Head of Office) for openness and transparency about the processes. We are concerned that by the time there is a wide public consultation (as I said – after the election) – the basic decisions will have been made. That first letter stating that the Whittington would have no A & E even though withdrawn – has left its mark – and I can’t help thinking that where there’s smoke….
It has also been pointed out to me that the Whittington sits on top value land – and that letting the hospital wither on the vine of ever reducing services might at some point enable land sales to a cash-strapped Strategic Health Authority – I hope not!
At the subsequent meeting at the Whittington Hospital, Rob Larkman (CEO) said that they had been shocked too by the letter stating that A & E would not be provided in any of the options and that it was his challenge on that letter that had forced LCN to put out the second letter.
In fact I think the Whittington Board may, to an extent, be an ally of local people in the fight to retain A & E and maternity and obstetrics. The Chair of the Board was also in attendance at this meeting and he said that the Board also fought for what the local community wanted and needed.
So to me, the crucial issues are not the labels that LNC may wish to give their new configurations of major acute, acute, local and so on – the key is still keeping important services like 24 hour A & E and maternity and obstetrics local at the Whittington – whatever the configuration.
I made it quite clear that I would, apart from keeping in close contact with what is happening, make sure that local people are kept informed about what is going on and about what I regard as a real threat to both the 24 hour A & E and the continued provision of maternity and obstetrics at the Whittington – and that I would be campaigning along with my Liberal Democrat colleagues in Haringey and Islington for what local people want and need.
It’s Mitzvah Day today. Mitzvah is the Hebrew word for ‘good deed’ and Muswell Hill Synagogue had about one hundred of its congregation out doing those good deeds today.
The Rabbi, David Mason, joined parents and children at Stationer’s Park planting tulips, daffodils and crocus bulbs around the base of the trees. In February – it will be awash with blooms! There were also lots of other activities such as outside Sainsbury in Muswell Hill where more volunteers asked those going into shop to buy one extra thing to give to a local charity. Last year – when I helped with this activity – people were so generous we could hardly keep up with the volume of stuff being donated.
What is so fantastic is that it is about giving time not money – and that makes people feel good about themselves too! And given the storms and the downpour – the sun actually came out for the day’s planting. They say the sun shines on the righteous.
Well done to Muswell Hill Synagogue and all those volunteers across the country who have given up their time for Mitzvah Day.
That was the title of my writing competition for local democracy week. Alexandra Park and Highgate Wood schools entered whole-heartedly into the whole spirit and submitted a huge amount of entries (and there were a few from other schools too).
I read every single one – and have to say that many, many of them were utterly brilliant. It was very heartening to see how much our children cared about poverty, pollution, homelessness, knife crime, drugs, poor children in Africa and of course – world peace above all
However, when it came to choosing a winner, I couldn’t help but be totally engaged by the entry from Roela who is at Alexandra Park School. Roela has written a beautiful and inspiring piece that really pulls your heartstrings. It tells of such a fundamental and essential thing as the need for people to have families who love and support them, and how more love in our society would mend many of its ills.
Roela will now come and shadow me for the day at Parliament. But I also am giving very high commendations to eight other entries – and want to say – what a very difficult time the high quality of the entries gave me. And to congratulate all who took part.