MP for Hornsey and Wood Green
Lib Dem councillor and crime spokesperson, Martin Newton has written to the Deputy Mayor of London objecting to the decision and calling on him to change his mind.
The Lib Dems have argued that having a contact point in Muswell Hill Library instead of the police counter is unacceptable because it will only be open for a short time and will be based in Muswell Hill Library. The library does not have disabled access so will not be usable for disabled people who would be forced to travel across the borough to report a crime.
Haringey Lib Dems have been campaigning for 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.
Local Lib Dem MP, Lynne Featherstone, is also fighting the decision and has stated her opposition to the closure of Muswell Hill volunteer counter and the reduction of opening hours at Hornsey and Wood Green stations.
Martin Newton, Lib Dem crime spokesperson and councillor for Fortis Green, Muswell Hill, comments:
“This decision by the Mayor is unacceptable. We need to keep a front counter and safer neighbourhood police base in the Muswell Hill area and to keep Hornsey and Wood Green open twenty-four hours a day.
“The contact point in Muswell Hill Library, open three hours a week is completely unsuitable and will not have disabled access.
“We will continue the fight to keep a police presence in Muswell Hill and keep Hornsey and Wood Green police stations open twenty-four hours.
“I have written to the Deputy Mayor calling on him to change his mind, protect our twenty-four police stations and keep a proper police base in Muswell Hill. I hope he sees sense and listens to us and the pleas of local residents.”
Commenting, Lynne Featherstone MP said:
“I am deeply disappointed with the Mayor’s crime plan for Haringey, which leaves the whole of the west of the borough without any nearby police station open twenty-four hours.
“In the past, I was promised that the Muswell Hill counter would never close without a suitable replacement service. The current alternative presented by the Mayor is certainly not suitable, and I will continue to campaign for an equal or better replacement in the Muswell Hill area. I will also continue to oppose the downgrading of front counters in Wood Green and Hornsey Police Stations.
“I encourage residents with views on the plans to also make themselves heard by contacting the Mayor directly.”
Read the full letter here.
The event is part of the ‘Enough Food for All – If’ campaign – which aims to visualise the unfair distribution of food around the world.
The MP for Hornsey and Wood Green opened the banquet by speaking about the role of UK aid in combating hunger.
The Liberal Democrat MP – who is also a minister in the Department of International Development – spoke further about her recent visits to Ethiopia and South Sudan, where she witnessed the effects of uneven distribution of food and hunger.
The attendees then ate different meals, depending on whether they had drawn a rich, middle or poor ticket. The rich received the best meal, the poor ate only a modest portion of rice, and the middle-class got a slightly better menu.
Food for the banquet was donated by the following local businesses: Jai Shri Krishna from Turnpike Lane; Qui from Crouch End; Zer from Crouch End; Dolly’s Delightfuls; Bakes Cakes and Treats from Turnpike Lane; BG Foodtwist from The Harringay Market.
After the event, Lynne Featherstone MP commented:
“I’d like to thank Katrina for organising this fantastic local event, which was a great way of illustrating some of the issues faced by the world’s poorest. It was a pleasure to take part and speak at the event.
“I was very happy yesterday when the Chancellor reaffirmed our commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP on overseas aid – so we can continue to help the world’s poorest and contribute to ending hunger in the developing world.”
During the meeting, the representatives of Wood Green Investments said that the piece was taken without their knowledge, yet they would not be reporting the incident as a crime.
The representatives also said that they would allow their wall to be used for street art, provided that the Council protected the wall from now on.
The Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green contacted the property owners in February after the Banksy piece disappeared from the wall, and ended up at an auction house in Miami.
The auction, however, was pulled at the last minute, and the exact whereabouts and current ‘owner’ of the piece remains unknown.
Commenting, Lynne Featherstone MP said:
“It is deeply disappointing that the property owners have chosen not to report this as a crime. If they really did not know anything until after the piece disappeared – then the person who currently has the Banksy piece is getting away with theft.
“Allowing the wall to be used for future street art is a nice gesture from Wood Green Investments – but what we really want is our Banksy back.
“I will continue to try and find out who has our Banksy, and hope that the property owners change their mind about reporting this as a crime.”
On Saturday, the artwork was unexpectedly removed from the wall of the Poundland shop on Wood Green High Road. The authentic Banksy piece has subsequently appeared for auction in the United States with an estimated value of £320,000-£452,000.
The Liberal Democrat MP has already taken the following actions:
Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, commented:
“I share my constituents’ great strength of feeling on this issue. It is clear that the Banksy piece was much loved by locals and visitors alike, and a community asset that was an important part of the fabric of the Turnpike Lane area.
“So far, Poundland have denied all knowledge and responsibility. The auction house has confirmed that a well known collector brought the piece to them, and said they see nothing untoward about how the piece ended up with them. I am now focussing my attention on the building owners, and the identity of the collector.
“It is totally unethical that something so valued should be torn without warning from its community context.
“I will continue doing all I can to investigate, with the hope that our Banksy piece might be returned to its rightful home.”
The piece, which was confirmed as genuine, appeared on the side of a Poundland store just before the Jubilee last year, and depicted a young boy using a sewing machine to make Jubilee bunting.
The piece is now up for auction in the United States, with an estimated value between £320,000 – £452,000.
Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, commented:
“The Banksy piece added something different to Turnpike Lane and attracted many people to the area. It’s certainly a shame to have the piece ripped from the building and bizarrely put up for auction in the States – for hundreds of thousands of pounds. This just isn’t right.
“Poundland have said that they are not responsible, but I want to find out who is. I will be making enquiries today to Poundland and the building owners and will keep residents updated. I will also make sure that the company auctioning the piece are aware of the situation.”
The MP for Hornsey and Wood Green was given a tour of the Centre and told more about the Centre’s activities, which range from yoga classes to computer skills lessons. There is also a focus on health, with numerous talks taking place on diabetes, cancer and general well-being. The classes and talks are either free or heavily subsidised.
After meeting elderly visitors in the day centre and visiting the lunch cafe, the Liberal Democrat MP went to the function room, and answered questions about a mix of national and local political issues.
Following the visit, Lynne Featherstone MP commented:
“The Centre is an invaluable asset to Wood Green, providing a huge variety of services to the local community. I was delighted to visit and see this excellent work first hand.
“It is vital that these community centres, run by voluntary organisations, are given the support they need to carry on. I have now written to my colleagues in Government to ask what further funding the Centre could benefit from.”
The Liberal Democrat MP was invited by local Oxfam campaigner Katrina Gajevska to discuss some of the issues affecting her constituency, Hornsey and Wood Green, and to comment on Oxfam’s GROW campaign.
The MP made a speech about youth unemployment and job creation in areas like Wood Green, coupled with the importance of volunteering as a means to combat poverty and disadvantage in a community.
And the end of the visit, the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green was presented with a poster, made by the local school children.
After the visit, Lynne Featherstone MP said:
“It was a great event, and I’d like to thank Katrina very much for organising it. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the participants – particularly the school children, who we’re very polite and interested in the issues discussed.
“Wood Green is a busy, diverse and great part of London – but there are also many residents from disadvantaged backgrounds. Community organisations and volunteers play a vital role in tackling poverty.
“The Lib Dems in Government are also working hard to address the problems faced by young people from these backgrounds. Since 2010, 2,550 new apprenticeships have been created in Haringey thanks to a Government funding boost. This year, Haringey schools will receive an extra £13million to help disadvantaged pupils, as part of the Lib Dem’s pupil premium plan.”
Lynne Featherstone MP and Cllr David Winskill met with users of Woodside luncheon club at a consultation meeting organised by the Council who are planning to close the services to save £171,000 next year.
The Liberal Democrat representatives urged all users to respond to the ongoing consultation, explaining in their own words how the closure will affect their lives. Many of the elderly people present expressed worries about becoming socially isolated, not getting a hot meal each day, and the loss of the treasured footcare service, should the club close.
Local residents who want to support the Liberal Democrat campaign against the closure can still sign the online petition on http://bit.ly/SaveOlderPeoplesServices and visit http://www.haringey.gov.uk/index/haringey-snap-survey to make their feelings felt.
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“The Haringey luncheon clubs will cost £171,000 next year to run – that is a tiny fraction of the council’s £286million budget. It’s frankly outrageous that so many elderly residents will suffer to save such a small amount that can be found elsewhere.
“I know that difficult decisions have to be made – but my colleagues on the council have found significant back-office spending that can be cut without the most vulnerable in society suffering. I really hope that as many local residents as possible respond to the consultation, and show that closing this service is a poor way to save money. The Labour Council must rethink.”
Cllr David Winskill, Liberal Democrat Adult Social Services spokesperson, adds:
“The benefits of keeping the day centres and luncheon clubs open far exceed the paltry amount it will save the council each year.
“These clubs save the council, the NHS and other agencies large sums of money by helping to keep residents well-fed and healthy and out of the doctor’s surgery and hospital. But more so, they help create a sense of community and belonging for elderly residents, and these benefits cannot be counted in pounds.
“These services are cheap, and their benefits to society are returned a thousand fold. I will certainly make that clear in the Liberal Democrat consultation response – and I hope the users here today will do the same in their responses.”
Newnham Green, located by White Hart Lane, has for years been used by motorists as a cut through to get to Wood Green High Road. After repeated attempts to get the issue resolved with the help of their Labour Councillors, residents recently turned to the Liberal Democrat Woodside Team, John Thompson, Angela Kawa and Ian Simpson for help.
On Friday, following a site visit, Lynne Featherstone MP and the Woodside Team were given assurances that the Council will take action before May, to stop cars cutting through.
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“I’m delighted that the Council has finally agreed to stop motorist from using this quiet green as a motorway.
“Newnham Green residents have suffered years of noise and have seen their nice green destroyed by cars and motorcycles, yet it has taken this long to get the Council to agree to what is a very simple solution.”
Woodside Liberal Democrat activist John Thompson adds:
“A lot of elderly residents and children use Newnham Green, and they have for years been put at risk from these dangerous drivers, with the Labour council sitting by, twiddling their thumbs.
“But following today’s site visit, I am glad to say that common sense has finally prevailed!”
The police are planning to expand their presence in Wood Green – keeping the existing police station in use but also moving the front counter to the Fishmongers Arms (right next to the Civic Centre, closer to the centre of Wood Green, closer to where people congregate and closer to the crime hotspots).
I was impressed with the new front counter – not yet in use – when I went with Cllr Robert Gorrie (Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Haringey Council) to see it and meet the local Commander, Dave Grant.
Having staffed and open police stations in the heart of our community is central to the fight against crime and the fear of crime. It gives us a police service that knows its community and whose community knows it. That’s why I fought for so longer to get the Muswell Hill front counter reopened.
The new front counter in Wood Green is much better equipped and located than the current one. It’s all ready to go – brand, spanking new – and has the advantage that local people would be able to use the front counter to report their problems in a much more peaceful and calm atmosphere – no longer needing to mix with the less salubrious side of station life with those who have to report to the police station, and so on.
If the existing building is also kept in use for police services, such as cells and a base for patrol cars etc, then this means overall a bigger and better police presence in Wood Green. Hurrah!
We need to be sure that moving the front counter doesn’t become an excuse to cut back, sell off property – and leave us with fewer services. That has to be the concern in these times of economic uncertainty.
And then there’s still the question of exactly what policing will be done from the existing police station building. The police have promised a public consultation on that – including the possibility of moving the front counter back from the Fishmongers Arms, if it isn’t a success in its new location and local people want it moved back.
We also need to make sure that any building work on the old police station preserves its historic front, which is a real architectural gem that adds to our community. Last time the police made proposals for the station the local community was rightly up in arms at the insensitive architectural designs. That planning application was withdrawn and we await a new one, due to be submitted in the autumn.
So we should be due two chances to have our say – the public consultation on police services in the area and also the planning application for the Victorian police station building.
But ahead of that the police want to try out starting to use the new facilities at the Fishmongers Arms – moving their front counter service from the existing police station to the new location.
I know some people have been skeptical about this, worried that it’s a way for the police to preempt those two chances for us to have our say later in the year.
But if it is a genuine trial, making use of new expanded premises and with a commitment written in blood that the final decisions will only come after we’ve been consulted – then it means we get to try out the new services sooner and it makes for a better decision in the end if there’s some practical experience to draw on.
So this is a debate which will run for some time – and do let me know your own views.
You can also watch my latest film about Wood Green police station: