MP for Hornsey and Wood Green
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.”
The Mayor’s ‘crime plan’ for Haringey will see Muswell Hill’s volunteer front counter closed, and counters at Wood Green and Hornsey stations downgraded from 24hrs to part time.
The Haringey Lib Dems responded to the initial consultation, and spoke out against the proposals. After the final announcement, Local Lib Dem councillors have written again to the Deputy Mayor for Policing expressing their disappointment.
In November, the Mayor of London promised “equivalent or superior access to the police.”
The petition calls on the Mayor to keep this promise, and maintain a front counter service and police base in Muswell Hill.
Cllr Richard Wilson, Lib Dem Leader of the opposition, added:
“The Mayor’s decision to close Muswell Hill police counter is extremely disappointing. We will continue the fight to keep a front counter and safer neighbourhood team base in Muswell Hill.
“I urge local residents to sign our petition and put pressure on the Mayor to change his mind.”
Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone said:
“The final crime plan announced by the Mayor was extremely disappointing. During the consultation period we conducted a survey, and it was clear that residents wanted their front counter services to stay.
“We were promised equal or better access to the police, but the Mayor has simply not delivered this. It is unacceptable and I will continue the fight to keep this counter open – as I did successfully in 2011.
“Residents can now sign our petition, which calls 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.”
The Haringey Liberal Democrats and Lynne Featherstone MP last week launched a petition for 30 minutes of free parking on Haringey’s High Streets. The petition has already been signed by 399 people with another 105 people liking the campaign on Facebook.
The campaign has also attracted the support of traders in Muswell Hill who recently gathered a petition with over 5,000 signatures, calling for lower parking charges.
The campaign for 30 minutes of free parking was sparked by the Labour-run Council’s decision to double parking charges in Muswell Hill, Crouch End and Green Lanes from £1.40 to £3 per hour.
So far the Council has refused to bow to pressure from traders, residents and Haringey Lib Dems on the issue.
The Lib Dems believe that 30 minutes of free parking would boost trade on local high streets and support the independent shops that make Haringey’s high streets unique.
Lynne Featherstone MP and Haringey Lib Dems are calling on local shoppers to add their support to the campaign and sign the petition here.
Jim Jenks, Muswell Hill councillor and Lib Dem spokesperson on parking comments:
“The council must do more to support local businesses. Independent traders are struggling and 30 minutes of free parking would encourage more people to shop on our high streets and boost local trade.”
“I encourage anyone who lives in Haringey or shops locally to sign our petition and put pressure on the council to introduce 30 minutes of free parking on high streets.”
Lynne Featherstone, Lib Dem MP for Hornsey and Wood Green comments:
“I’m delighted that our petition has already got the support of hundreds of people!
“Haringey Lib Dems and I will continue to campaign to get the Labour Council to make the change and introduce 30 minutes of free parking.
“It will benefit local residents and help to keep small independent shops on our local high streets.”
Peter Drummond, local resident and President of the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC), comments:
“I support the campaign to lower parking charges on high streets. In my view, it is absolutely critical that high streets are not put under even greater pressure, and that local councils do not simply see parking charges as a revenue earner. If they do, retailers will fail, rents and rates will reduce and in the long run the council will be worse off.”
Last year, retailers on Muswell Hill Broadway reported months of poor trade after the parking charges were increased from £1.40 to £3 per hour.
The traders started a petition to lower the charges – which attracted over 5,200 signatures – and presented it to Haringey Council. Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone also wrote to the Labour-run Council and requested that the charges be lowered. Despite this, the Council refused to reduce the charges.
Lynne Featherstone MP and the Haringey Liberal Democrats are now calling for 30 minutes of free parking on Haringey’s High Streets, to encourage people to stop and ‘drop in’ to the Borough’s independent shops, and boost their trade.
Jim Jenks, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Muswell Hill said:
“Haringey retailers need our support. But the Haringey Labour Council has, as usual, a ‘one size fits all’ approach with high parking charges throughout the Borough. We need local parking solutions that help get more people into our shops.
“We need as many people as possible to support our campaign, so we’re encouraging our supporters and residents to sign our petition and let their friends and families know about it, too.”
Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green commented:
“In my constituency, the high streets in places like Muswell Hill and Crouch End are packed with independent retailers. It sets us apart from other places which are full of bland chain stores.
“I’m afraid this refusal to listen to trader’s concerns is typical of the Labour-run Council – more interested in making a quick buck on parking fees than preserving our community assets.
“I urge anyone who wants to support independent shops – and would like to enjoy 30 minutes free parking – to sign our petition.”
Sign the petition here.
To support an impressive lottery winning project that will make the world of difference to green-fingered allotment users, Lynne Featherstone MP on Friday officially opened Haringey’s first green composting toilet at Alexandra Palace allotments.
The project, funded by a £4,000 lottery grant, came into being thanks to allotment faithfuls Colin Roberts and John Wilkinson, who came up with the idea and secured the funding. Thanks to an impressive team of allotment users who built the disability-friendly facility from scratch, users from all walks of life can now spend more time tending to their plots, without cutting their visits short.
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“This is an impressive example of the community coming together to realise a long-held wish. Having to cut your visit to your plot short because of lack of facilities has been the case for many allotment users for years. Now that will all change thanks to the inspiration of Colin, John, Mike and Anne and their team of constructors.
“It’s something so simple, but it took someone with vision and the efforts of many to make it happen. I’m hugely impressed – well done all at Alexandra Palace allotments!”
Alexandra Palace allotments Chairman (also Highgate Lib Dem Councillor) Bob Hare adds:
“I know just how much work it was to dig the large hole over the 3 month period, and then to build the project around the composter unit, but I also know just how much the unit is appreciated by everyone.
“Allotment culture has changed, and many families are spending more time on their plots perhaps eating lunch or supper, which makes having a facility like this a really fantastic benefit.”
Muswell Hill residents packed the British Legion Hall last Thursday to hear about the controversial Pinkham Way Waste Plant from Haringey Council officers at the first meeting of the new Muswell Hill Area Forum. The Pinkham Way proposal was on the agenda at the insistence of Liberal Democrat councillors who demanded residents be given the opportunity to discuss the plans, and question planning officers.
Haringey will be handling the planning application, so the meeting was welcomed by many who were disappointed by the North London Waste Authority’s refusal to speak at a public meeting Lynne Featherstone MP was hoping to organise earlier in the spring. At the Forum Committee meeting, local councillors also voted overwhelmingly for a motion that criticised the Pinkham Way waste facility proposals.
Liberal Democrat Councillor for Alexandra, Juliet Solomon commented:
“This is an issue that local people care passionately about, and I have frankly been astounded that the waste authority is so unwilling to meet with local people and hear their concerns. I was therefore delighted that the issue was discussed at the Area Forum, and residents didn’t hold back in showing their outrage at the plans.
“I am also really pleased to see local councillors taking an unequivocal stand on this troubling proposal. Local residents in three boroughs are shocked and dismayed by the proposals and will be reassured to know that their fears are shared by their elected representatives who will be arguing against the plant strongly in every possible arena.”
Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone added:
“The waste authority is planning to squeeze in this giant waste plant in the middle of a residential area, and residents are rightly outraged. I am this week meeting with the MPs from Enfield and Barnet, to see how we can jointly stop this monstrosity. Once the planning application is available for comment, we will also be writing to local people to tell them how best to respond. Please also sign our petition and show your opposition to the plans. Together we will fight these plans.”
The text of the motion passed reads:
“This Area Committee opposes the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) plans for a waste facility at Pinkham Way, and calls on the NLWA to drop the plans.
“Whilst we recognise the need to plan responsibly for waste disposal, this must not be through the location of a huge plant in a residential area with the excessive movement of large lorries that will result.”
“We further oppose plans for the use of the site by Barnet LB as a lorry park. The London Borough of Barnet should make arrangement for the parking of such vehicles in its own borough.”
Local Liberal Democrats have demanded that Haringey Council intervenes after the top boss at the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) this week refused to attend a public meeting on the controversial plans to build a waste processing plant at Pinkham Way.
In April 2011, Lynne Featherstone MP asked David Beadle, the managing director of the NLWA to speak at a meeting to raise awareness about proposals to build the waste plant and to listen to local concerns before the NLWA submitted the planning application to Haringey Council.
Following the rebuff by NLWA Lynne Featherstone MP has today written to the Labour representatives who sit on the publicly funded NLWA board, Councillors Nilgun Canver and George Meehan, asking that they personally intervene by asking the top boss to reconsider the invitation.
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“The consultation into plans to build a huge waste plant at Pinkham Way to date has been shambolic. I’m really disappointed that the waste authority has refused to address these concerns by attending a public meeting.
“Being at the meeting and being prepared to listen to local residents, before submitting the plans, would have gone some way towards giving residents assurances that their concerns will be heard.
“The NLWA is a public body funded by local tax payers – they should feel duty bound to attend a meeting and engage with residents over these major plans. I have today therefore written to councillors Meehan and Canver, asking them encourage Mr Beadle to reconsider.
“I share many residents’ fears about the plans to build this huge waste plant in a residential area and right next to local schools. The area already suffers from bad traffic, and over 330 lorries entering and exiting the site each day will make a bad situation worse. Rest assured, I will stand alongside residents in fighting these plans.”
To make sure that the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) is aware of local concern over plans to build a waste processing plant at Pinkham Way, local Liberal Democrats yesterday presented the authority’s top boss with views from hundreds of local residents who had responded to a Liberal Democrat survey.
Lynne Featherstone MP and Alexandra ward councillor Juliet Solomon met with David Beadle following serious concerns about a lack of consultation of residents living close to the proposed site. To ensure local residents could have their say, Liberal Democrats earlier in April sought the views of thousands of local people in Alexandra and Bounds Green wards.
At the meeting, residents’ top concerns were raised, such as the size of the development and levels of traffic and pollution. The Waste Authority also promised to write to local residents in early May to explain the plans in more detail.
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“The plan to build a waste plant at Pinkham Way will have a big effect on people in Bounds Green and Alexandra wards – yet 97% of people who responded to our survey felt they had not been adequately consulted. That’s just not good enough when we’re talking about such a major development.
“So I was glad to be able to raise residents’ concerns. People are mainly worried about the size of the development, the volume of traffic, noise and odour. I hope the NLWA will consider these views closely before putting in their planning application later in the spring. And I hope that from now on, local residents will get a chance to have a say at every step of the way.”
Alexandra councillor Juliet Solomon adds:
“It’s good to see that the NLWA is doing something about the lack of information for local residents – and they are now planning to write to everyone living close to the site, to set the plans out in more detail.
“It’s crucial that local people know what’s going on so that they are in a good place to respond to the planning application later on in the spring. In the meantime, residents can of course write to both Lynne and me with their concerns, and we will communicate them to the NLWA. We’re here to support you, so don’t hesitate to get in touch”.