Monday, 2 June 2014

Thank you!

We'd like to say thank you to everyone who voted for us in the local elections on 22 May and have supported the local “Spotlight” Liberal Democrats over so many years.
Although you voted for us in large numbers, it wasn’t quite enough this time, and West Hampstead now has three Labour councillors, who we wish well in their new role and in adjusting to the demanding life of a West Hampstead councillor. The good people of West Hampstead quite rightly expect a lot of their councillors!

Thank you also to the many of you who have emailed, tweeted, written or phoned us expressing your thanks for all the work we’ve done over the years. We really appreciate you taking the time to do that.

Having chalked up a total of 36 years between us as West Hampstead councillors, it’s hard to pick out individual achievements, but some examples we’re particularly proud of are Gillian’s success in bringing the Farmers’ Market to West Hampstead, John’s scheme to give our local paths proper names, including Billy Fury Way, and Keith’s role organising and chairing our well attended West Hampstead area forums.

You can rest assured that West Hampstead Liberal Democrats will still be playing an active part in the life of the area, not least in the form of our colleague Flick Rea, who is still a councillor for Fortune Green ward. What’s more you can still expect to see the paper version of Spotlight regularly landing on your doormat in the future.

Meanwhile, we look forward to seeing you at the Jester Festival on 5th and 6th July when West Hampstead Liberal Democrats will have their usual cake stall.

With best wishes

Your Liberal Democrat Spotlight team
West Hampstead Liberal Democrats

Keith Moffitt                       Tel: 020 7443 5419
Gillian Risso-Gill                Tel:  07798 845 919
John Bryant                       Tel: 020 8795 0908 

Friday, 28 February 2014

Construction Working Group for West Hampstead Square

Today the Community Construction Working Group met with the developer of West Hampstead Square, Ballymore and the main Contractor, O'Hare McGovern Ltd (OHMG). The Group is made up of representatives of local groups in the community affected by the development and West Hampstead Councillor Gillian Risso-Gill who negotiated the establishment of the Group.  Community members at the meeting were:

James Earl                  Chair, West Hampstead Neighbourhood Development Forum
Candice Temple          Trees Campaigner and representative of Redcroft residents
Bridget Shaughnessy    West Hampstead Gardens Residents Association
Karina Leapman          Local Solicitor
Amos Sivan                 Local Architect
Cllr Gillian Risso-Gill    Councillor for West Hampstead Ward

WHAT and the WH Business Association will also be represented in the Group.  If there are other Groups that wish to be represented, contact

OHMG provided copies of the West Hampstead Square Construction Charter (CMP) which outlines
the environmental and sustainability aspect of the project and an outline of the environmental management controls during all stages of the project:  Key issues that emerged from the discussions

Building on site will start on 10th March 2014
Building will take place between 8am - 6pm, Monday - Friday and 8am - 1pm Saturday
There will be up to 45 lorry movements per day along Finchley Road and West End Lane, these will include removal of waste and delivery of materials
Most of the trees have now been removed from the site.
Additional soft landscaping has now been included on the south side perimeter.  There is no scope to include additional planting on the north side due to Network Rail fencing.
Marks & Spencer will take the large retail unit and one of the small units

Future meetings will be held every two months.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Replacement of Play Equipment at Sumatra Road Open Space

Camden Council are planning to undertake the installation of replacement play features at Sumatra Road Open Space.

The works will involve replacing defective equipment that was recently removed from the site as well as updating some of the remaining outdated play features.  The play grounds design and intended use for toddlers will remain the same.  In addition the safety surface surrounding the new features will be replaced. The works should be completed within the next couple of months in time for summer.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Good news for West Hampstead Overground station

When the controversial Ballymore development was first being suggested your Liberal Democrat councillors pressed the developers to include improvements to the Overground station, and finally this public benefit is to be realised.  Transport for London has written to us to outline TfL's proposals for upgrading the station.

Local people may be concerned at yet more loss of trees - four in total - but when we get to see the formal planning application we can all comment on the landscaping and planting that will follow. The extended and widened platforms and the re-modelled station will certainly improve pedestrian movements in and around the station, which will be widely welcomed.

The letter we have received is set out below -

"Dear Councillor,
Proposed Station Improvements at West Hampstead
Transport for London (TfL) is currently working on a proposal for major improvements to West Hampstead London Overground station. The £7m scheme will see the existing station building replaced with a bigger, brighter, more accessible station which is integrated with the forthcoming Ballymore development.
The new station building will be adjacent to the current building, which will be partially removed to allow the pavement in West End Lane to be widened. The station will feature lifts to both platforms, providing step-free access from street-level to platform for those who have difficulty using the stairs. As the current platforms are too narrow for lift shafts to be installed, they must first be widened by a minimum of 3 metres. This will provide the added benefit of relieving congestion on the platform at busy times.
Work to widen the platforms will commence in late spring, together with platform extensions which are necessary to introduce longer, 5-car trains in 2015. Subject to planning permission, work on the new station building will follow in early 2015 and take approximately one year.
I have attached some initial drawings of the proposed station building. Please note that as we are still working on our concept design, these are subject to change prior to the submission of a planning application.
Next Steps
Our architects are working to finalise our initial designs in preparation for the submission of the planning application in spring 2014.
Preparatory works are also being undertaken including ground investigations will be carried out in the coming weeks.
In order to complete the platform and station works, it is necessary to remove four sycamore trees from the railway embankment along the westbound platform. The proximity of these trees to the new station building and platform means that the scheme cannot be completed with them in place. We are currently in discussions with tree officers from the London Borough of Camden regarding these trees and we intend to re-landscape the embankments to the rear of both platforms following the completion of works.
Prior to the submission of a planning application, we will undertake a consultation to allow passengers and the community to comment on the proposal. In the mean time, f you have any comments or questions about this scheme, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will be happy to help.
Yours sincerely,

Gary Nolan, Stakeholder Communications Manager, Rail
TfL | 5th Floor, Palestra, 197 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NJ
(020 3054 8630 (Internal - Auto  88630"

Friday, 31 January 2014

Partial Closure of Maygrove Road

On Thursday 30th January Maygrove Road in West Hampstead was completely closed in both directions between Ariel Road and Handrail House in order to lay sewers to serve the new development of flats on the Handrail House site.  The road will be closed for three months!  The closure will affect around 50 residences as well as access to the Peace Park and Sidings Community Centre.  Parking on the affected section of Maygrove Road has been suspended and through traffic will necessarily be diverted along nearby Fordwych  Loveridge and Iverson Roads.   Residents on Maygrove Road were notified of the closure the previous weekend but Councillors were only notified on the day the closure took place.

On Thursday evening Cllrs Keith Moffitt and Gillian Risso-Gill visited Maygrove Road to speak with residents about how the closure would affect them.  At the same time, we learnt that parking suspensions were in force in adjacent Loveridge Road  for tree and pavement works, placing further pressure in parking in the whole area.

On Friday 31st January we raised various concerns with Council Officers and secured the following actions:

-      Parking suspensions in Loveridge Road have been lifted and the planned works will be postponed until  after Maygrove Road is reopened.

-      There will be a "marshalled" filter lane available for refuse collection for the affected properties.

-     There will be a "marshalled" filter lane for accessing properties for the physically disabled, emergency services, grocery deliveries, etc.  on an "as needed basis"

-      All further works will be fully coordinated with Maygrove residents and Ward Councillors with a  weekly newsletter.

- Due to the configuration of the sewer connections they need to be done in a specific way and this  requires the whole section to be closed at the same time.

-      The sewer works and demolition will begin on Monday 3rd February, 2014.

Please let the Councillors know if there are any further concerns or problems caused by this closure.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Request to reconsider the development of Liddell Road site refused

On Tuesday 21st January a Special meeting of the Council's Childrens, Families and Schools Scrutiny was held to consider a Call In request by West Hampstead Councillors that the Cabinet decision to develop the Liddell Road site to accommodate an expanded Kingsgate School to be funded by the sale of 140 flats and business space.  The Ward Councillors John Bryant and Gillian Risso-Gill were supported by three deputations and an audience of concerned local residents.

John Bryant presented the Education case (that should have been the main concern to the CSF Scrutiny):
- No education arguments have been presented by Officers to justify the current proposal for a split school site other than expanding an existing Outstanding School.  Alternative solutions to provide extra school places in NW Camden, such as a free school or academy (where Government funding would have been available) have not been considered.
- The move to a 4-form entry from the originally proposed 2 form entry is a recent addition to the proposal for the Liddell Road site without consideration whether the existing Kingsgate site would be able to accommodate 4-form year groups.
- The move from a 2-form to a 4-form entry carries risks however good the current management might be and particularly on split sites.
-Children in all age primary schools gain benefit of having children of different age groups as part of their school community.  This would not be possible in a split site school.
-The examples provided by Officers of split school sites in other areas, eg Emmanuel School were not comparable to the proposals for Kingsgate School since all the sites were on the same road.
-If the Council proceed with selling market homes on the site, there will be an estimated profit of £3 million.
- Since the Cabinet decision, the Council has been awarded £6.7 million from the Government to fund new school places.  This would mean that the need to fund a new school or expand an existing one by selling market homes would not be needed.  Nor would the need to displace the existing businesses as the site is large enough could accommodate both businesses and a school.

James Earl, Chair of the Neighbourhood Development Forum argued that:
- The plan to remove all the existing 25 businesses, resulting in loss of jobs, was against Camden Planning Policies and questioned the suitability of the site for the uses proposed
- The Consultation process was flawed with a very low response rate and the views of local groups had not been included.
- A co-sited school, with sites a walking distance of a mile apart would not be acceptable

Sue Measures, Manager of Sidings Community Centre and Elizabeth Pearson, mother of two toddlers argued:
- The practical and logistical issues for parents of having children at two sites
- The travel issues to Liddell Road and presented photos of pedestrian congestion that morning at the West Hampstead Interchange that parents would have to contend with
- The loss of early years provision in central Kilburn, currently provided at Kingsgate but if moved  to the new site would be adjacent to the existing provision at Sidings.
-  The consultation with parents was inadequate and misleading, leading to a low response rate

Branko Viric led a deputation of 3 businesses currently trading on Liddell Road
-  The proposal will lead to the closure of 25 businesses, many that are unable to afford to move,the loss of jobs, services to local residents, and the loss of rent and business revenue to the Council.
-  The businesses will no longer be able to offer apprenticeships to local residents.
- There has been no meaningful consultation or discussion with the businesses by the Council, other than the setting up of an online portal.
-  There are no suitable premises available or affordable for the displaced light industrial businesses within Camden .  The nearest potential space is in Tottenham, so the local customer base would be lost.
-  Alternative sites for a new school in West Hampstead have not been fully explored, eg. 156 West End Lane.
-  The pedestrian route between Kingsgate School and Liddell Road along narrow pavements that cannot be widened could be dangerous to young children and parents with buggies.
-  The low response rate on the Council's flawed consultation demonstrates a lack of support or awareness.

Cllr Gillian Risso-Gill  supported all the above and argued:
-  Many of the families whose children currently attend Kingsgate live in the social housing estates around Abbey Road in South Kilburn.  Many travel to school by bus with a short walk to the Kingsgate School.  There are no bus routes serving the  new site and journey times would double  by bus and congested pavements through rush hour.  This may not be acceptable to parents with toddlers. They may not be in the catchment area of the new school.  The only alternative schools would be St. Mary's or St. Eugene de Mazenod, both faith schools and over subscribed.
- Six employment sites have already been lost in West Hampstead recently for housing development which has impacted the local weekday economy.
- No consideration has yet been given to the new housing developments of 380 homes that are under construction in the immediate vicinity of the proposed site in West Hampstead Square, Iverson and Maygrove Roads which will put additional strain on local services as well as traffic and pedestrian routes.
- The proposal for new employment on the new site would not be suitable for the existing light industrial businesses.  The new employment space proposed would be office based and may not be attractive to businesses due to Camden's insistence on car-free developments.

The Officers rejected all the arguments by the local community and only referred to the overall Camden Plan
- They could not explain the disparity between their estimate of 80 job losses against the 250 of the businesses.
-  They could provide no examples of successful split site schools with 4-form entry
-  They could not justify a response rate of 5 from parents as an acceptable reflection of local opinion
-  They had not considered Free School or Academy options
-  They would not commit that the new £6.7 million would be spent on providing extra school places in NW Camden.

The Committee Chair was reluctant to have all the issues presented to be debated by the Committee. After a cursory discussion, the Committee moved to a vote on accepting the Cabinet's decision to expand Kingsgate School by developing the Liddell Road site to provide new school places.  The vote was 7 for and 3 against.  All the Labour Councillors voted for and the 3 Opposition Councillors voted against.  This meant that the option of the decision being reconsidered by Officers, given the evidence provided by the deputations was not discussed.

We therefore conclude that Camden Labour:
- do not listen to business or are concerned about job losses and livelihoods
- have not considered the logistical problems their split site plan presents to parents
- are not concerned about children's health and safety presented by arduous journeys to school
- are in the market to make £9.7 million from property speculation from a flawed education model.
- put their own political ideology before the education of Camden children and views of residents

We will continue to represent the views of residents at every stage of the development of this proposal.  There is still a long way to go!


Thursday, 16 January 2014

Council Survey on Private Renting in Camden

With over a third of homes in Camden privately rented, Camden Council wants to explore how it can work with landlords, tenants and other residents to improve standards and make sure the private rented sector works for everyone and are conducting an online survey to look for ways to make improvements.  This includes private landlords and tenants, partners and people who live or work near privately rented homes.  Residents are encouraged to take part at  The survey closes on 14th February 2014.

Residents who do not have access to online services can pass on any issues or concerns they have to their local Ward Councillors by letter, telephone or by coming to the weekly Councillor Surgery every Friday, 6-7pm at West Hampstead Library.