Thursday 22 July 2010

"Pavement politics" in Dennington Park Road

As a councillor who started his career in West Hampstead in "pavement politics" it seems fitting that my first real posting on this blog is about the repaving of Dennington Park Road, which quite a few residents have been in touch with me about. They're raised  concerns about the quality of the repaving work being done there.

One issue was that the same paving stones were being relaid instead of being replaced with new ones. This is part of the contract and the idea is to save both council tax payers' money and also help the environment, as otherwise the old paving stones have to be ground up and transported to a landfill site, which is pretty unenvironmentally friendly.

But a lot of other aspects of the repaving aren't acceptable, particularly the ragged edges of the paving stones and gaps between the edge of the pavement. I've complained about this to Camden's highway engineers - and would also like to thank those public-spirited residents who've talked to the workers on site about the substandard work.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

The Billy Fury Way signs will be replaced....again

Those local residents who have been following the saga of Billy Fury Way for some time will know that since naming three local footpaths in our area, the signs actually showing the location of Billy Fury Way have disappeared four times now - twice at either end of the footpath.

I suppose this demonstrates that naming footpaths after a rock legend will attract his fans who collect rare memorabilia, and they include those who are prepared to steal the signs. It is pity that they do not simply have their photographs taken against them.

Anyway the latest news is that more substantial signs have now been ordered which should be robust enough to withstand the vandals. They should be up in about 3 weeks time.

Friday 16 July 2010

Our local police are making progress...

At the West Hampstead Safer Neighbourhood Police Panel meeting on the 15th July the panel members heard about the latest successes achieved by our local police team.

The panel's newest priority is to reduce the total amount of crime occurring at the O2 Centre. Happily the panel's newest member, Mark Packer the O2 General Manager, was also present. So much of our debating time was used to find out about the interface between the various stores' and restaurants' security teams and the Safer Neighbourhood officers.

One interesting fact that emerged was that it was Sainsburys' policy not to record shoplifting offences to the police where the value of goods was less than £50, preferring instead for their own security staff to intervene, recover the goods from thieves immediately outside the premises, and then to ban shoplifters from the store.

As the Safer Neighbourhood Panel was being asked to set a target of reducing crime at the O2 Centre by 10% over 12 months, I felt that we should also expect a 10% reduction in the separately held records of minor shoplifting offences at Sainsburys too, otherwise we could not judge whether the extra focus of our police team had had any effect over the year.

One interesting anecdote was the story of an arrest by one of our constables of a shoplifter who attempted to push a trolley out of the store without paying, piled high with over £450 worth of meat and cheese. Back at the station he was tested for drugs in which he proved positive for opiates and heroin. It appeared the attempted theft was to sell the goods to fund a drug habit. The interesting end of this story was that the thief appeared before a magistrates court and was sentenced to prison for 4 months the day after the offence, the fastest result recorded for our team in recent years.

Other measures being promoted by the team to reduce the number of bags stolen in restaurants is to encourage the proprietors to fix "Chelsea Clips"under tables to allow bags to be hung from them, rather than their customers take the risk of placing bags on the floor.

The meeting also studied the statistics for offences like affray and actual bodily harm within the Centre. One conclusion was to encourage the O2 Centre's new owners, Land Securities, to consider finding a different tenant for the unit currently occupied by the Walkabout chain.

One other interesting anecdote was that a brothel has now been closed in Wedgwood Walk on Lymington Road after officers posed as potential clients to a woman who rented a leasehold flat there. After a warning failed to stop her activities contact was made to the leaseholder who lived abroad. The place is now sealed.


Wednesday 14 July 2010

Life as a new councillor - from Gillian Risso-Gill

I am delighted to have been elected LibDem Councillor for West Hampstead on 6th May and would like to thank the 1,688 constituents who voted for me, as well as my fellow ward councillors, Keith Moffitt and John Bryant, for their support and guidance.

Although we're no longer in administration, the Lib Dems are the second largest party on Camden Council and the official Opposition, so we can challenge the Labour Administration on behalf of our constituents in what will be challenging and straitened times.

As a councillor I'm a member of a variety of committees - Development Control (or planning in plainspeak), Licensing, Health Scrutiny, Standards and Staff Appeals, which is keeping me busy, in addition to case work and surgeries for constituents on alternate Fridays at 156 West End Lane. I'll also be a Governor of Beckford School.

As a Councillor I have learnt that I need to:

- be able to read vast amounts of paperwork that is delivered to my home twice a week as well the dozens of daily emails
- give up on a social life on weekdays as there is a Council or community group meeting nearly every night!
- get used to eating supper at 10.30pm
- become as agile as a mountain goat in navigating the stairs and steps of West Hampstead properties when delivering Spotlight.

I'm very much looking forward to being a councillor for such a fascinating area. More soon!

Welcome to the West Hampstead Spotlight blog

This month your three West Hampstead ward Lib Dem councillors - Gillian Risso-Gill, Keith Moffitt and John Bryant - are launching their blog on West Hampstead issues - and we'll occasionally pop in some other "big picture" posts as well.

Our fellow Lib Dem councillors in Fortune Green - Flick Rea, Russell Eagling and Nancy Jirira have their own blog (see the links) and we'll occasionally cross-post stories of interest to the whole West Hampstead area.

Our first post is some first impressions from John and Keith's new colleague Gillian on life as a councillor.