Friday 16 December 2011

£1 million boost for West Hampstead Overground

Just announced by Norman Baker, the Lib Dem Rail minister at the Department for Transport:
West Hampstead Overground station will have disabled lifts installed with a £1 million investment as part of the government's Access for All programme.
Here is the DfT's press release; and here is the list of the winners. Also on the same line Hampstead Heath and Kensal Rise are also set to get similar improvements.
The most important thing about this announcement is the impact the station improvements will have on Ballymore's West End Square proposals (see previous post).
If the developers and Overground don't get together and work out how to get the best of the currently cramped entrance to the Overground station it will be a massive missed opportunity.
With the new Thameslink station about to open (and its lifts already operational), our transport future is definitely looking brighter

Monday 5 December 2011

Against siphoning-off Fortune Green to Finchley and Golders Green

Below is the join submission by councillors in West Hampstead and Fortune Green against proposals to put Fortune Green in with the parliamentary constituency of Finchley and Golders Green.

You can put in your own views by going to

We, the councillors of the wards of Fortune Green and West Hampstead in the London Borough of Camden, are writing to express our concerns about the Boundary Commissions initial proposals. The suggestion that the wards of Fortune Green and West Hampstead are split between two different constituencies which cross two different local authorities is ill judged. Leaving this arbitrary line on a map unaddressed will lead to confusion and frustration for years ahead.

We understand that administrative boundaries will always have an element of arbitrariness about them. However, splitting Fortune Green and West Hampstead is so arbitrary to be perverse.

We therefore wish to add our voice to others who we believe have also contacted you about this issue - including local residents, local amenity groups, local clergy, Camden Council and the three main political parties. All these, and more have advanced arguments about keeping West Hampstead and Fortune Green together.

Throughout our close interest in this matter we have found no-one in the area who considers the current proposal to be a good solution.

West Hampstead is a much larger area than that covered by the Camden ward.  Most people living in Fortune Green ward consider themselves to live in West Hampstead. Indeed large parts of West Hampstead and Fortune Green used to be contained in a ward called West End ward.

The sense of belonging to a single community and the facilities jointly used is an important factor and should not be lightly dismissed.  Shared facilities in our area include libraries, shopping precincts, community festivals and schools. All these are considered by residents of West Hampstead and Fortune Green to be central to their community life. They are also often the focus of political controversies and most people wish their MP to have a common identification with the same area that they have concerns about.

However, in addition this sense of community – there are a number of organisations which have set up links across the ward boundaries that would be hindered by splitting the parliamentary boundary across West Hampstead and Fortune Green:

·        The Police Safer Neighbourhoods teams in the two wards work in tandem and share a common Sergeant.  As a united force they work well understanding the whole community on both sides of the arbitrary ward division.

·        The Area Action Group (a council based consultation forum) is set up on a ward by ward basis across most of the borough. However, West Hampstead and Fortune Green have so many issues in common it is always chosen to run their meetings jointly.

 ·        One of Fortune Green's primary schools, Emmanuel, is currently having a new building completed across the road in West Hampstead.  They will retain the existing building so will be split across the two constituencies. But would their MP be the one for Fortune Green or West Hampstead?

·        West Hampstead Business Forum is building useful links between traders in the area, drawing active members from both West Hampstead and Fortune Green wards.

·        The local transport and amenity group WHAT comes together and makes representations to political bodies about proposals affecting the area.  Their work will be much more complicated if they are looking to two MPs.

There are many more such initiatives which aim to overcome the lines drawn across this natural community by administrative necessity. We spend much of our time as councillors supporting such moves. Splitting these wards would do much to undermine this work and would be a massive retrograde step.

In addition to the concerns about natural communities, we are very concerned about the administrative complexity your current proposals will have. 

We have experience of parliamentary boundaries crossing borough boundaries from the 2010 General Election when Hampstead and Kilburn crossed the boroughs of Camden and Barnet. The problems this brought about for Camden’s administrative team were significant. The boundary commission’s current proposals would have Camden officers working across 5 borough boundaries (Camden, Barnet, Brent, Westminster and The City of London).

It is significant that a central plank of Camden Council’s own submission that the number of borough crossings should be reduced.

In order to overcome all these problems – we propose a simple solution.

The London borough of Barnet contains enough electors to have three constituencies within the +/-5% criteria set down by parliament.  However, your self-imposed rule - without any legislative justification – is that existing ward boundaries may not be split. Barnet’s wards are particularly large. If just 1 ward in Barnet was shared amongst two (or potentially three) of the Barnet constituencies there would be no need to make up the numbers by bringing in Fortune Green to Finchley and Golders Green.

It is our strong contention that this solution is much simpler administratively. The administrative problems that would result from splitting one ward between 2 (or three) constituencies within the same borough would be small compared to crudely appending one ward of a different borough would do – especially considering the community confusion caused to the greater West Hampstead area your proposals will cause.

We therefore urge you to reconsider your self-imposed rule where you will only draw parliamentary boundaries on top of existing ward boundaries and create three Barnet constituencies within the borough of Barnet.

For these cultural and administrative reasons we add our voices to the many who have urged you not to split the West Hampstead and Fortune Green communities, and instead keep Barnet self-contained and administratively simple.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Russell Eagling (Fortune Green) Cllr Nancy Jirira (Fortune Green) Cllr Flick Rea (Fortune Green) Cllr John Bryant (West Hampstead) Cllr Keith Moffitt (West Hampstead) Cllr Gillian Risso-Gill (West Hampstead)

Friday 11 November 2011

Benches and Beggars

At the West Hampstead Safer Neighbourhood Team meeting on Thursday 10th November the panel heard about the latest work the team has been doing to address the problems caused by street beggars in our area.

The previous work of the team led to the discovery that most beggars on our streets, usually operating close to stations, are not homeless at all but use their begging skills to feed drug or alcohol habits. The police liaise with Camden Council's street services team to ensure appropriate interventions for support are made, but eventually our local police team has applied and secured ASBOs against those who persist.

Currently the team are monitoring four people at different locations and will apply for ASBO's if necessary. The discussion reminded me of a current consultation taking place in response to requests for more street benches in our area.

Currently the Council is considering requests received from community groups for four new benches at -

1) West Hampstead Library (1-18 Dennington Park Road)

The bench would be at the back of the footway, between the two existing trees.

2) The pavement outside Sanoling, (260 West End Lane)

The bench could be located either at the front of the footway, opposite the Sanoling Chinese Medical shop, or in the middle of the footway, in line with the existing tree.

3) The footway opposite Unique Star (222 West End Lane)

The bench would be located between the tree and the lamp post at this site.

4) On the footway outside Pizza Express (319 West End Lane)

The bench would be located at the front of the footway, between a sign post and a lamp post.

What your ward councillors are trying to weigh up is the balance between the needs of the elderly and disabled who need a place for a breather when out shopping, and the potential for the benches to be commandeered by street drinkers or beggars.

Please let us know if you have strong views either way. I don't think there is a case for all 4 benches and so expressing a favourite position for one would help.

The panel on Thursday night suggested using the new space created by the new Thameslink station on Iverson Road as a further possible location. What do you think?

Monday 7 November 2011

Traffic and Cycling Consultations for West Hampstead

Camden Council are carrying out two consultations with West Hampstead residents:

1) Introducing a 20mph limit on West End Lane and residential streets on the west side and traffic calming measures including repositioning of islands and changes to the footways.
2)Improvements in cycle permeability to provide safer cycling routes between Kilburn High Road and Finchley Road. The principal road to be affected in West Hampstead is Sherriff Road, but other roads in Kilburn and Swiss Cottage Wards are affected.
Information leaflets on both consultations are available online at
Responses must be received by 11th November 2011, including your postal address.

Monday 13 June 2011

New Arrangements for Councillors Advice Surgeries

We've given our arrangements for Councillors' Advice Surgeries in West Hampstead a spring clean!

From the beginning of June, your Liberal Democrat Councillors for West Hampstead ward (Keith Moffitt, John Bryant and Gillian Risso-Gill) and Fortune Green ward (Flick Rea, Russell Eagling and Nancy Jirira) are holding weekly joint surgeries every Friday from 6-7pm at the Camden District Housing Office at 156 West End Lane. We'll be trying to make sure that there is one councillor for each ward at each surgery on a rota basis.

There will also be two monthly Saturday morning surgeries on the last Saturday of each month - one at 19 Wedgwood Walk on the Lymington Road Estate (11.30-12.30pm) and the other at the Sidings Community Centre on Brassey Road (11.00-12.00 noon).

Our advice surgeries provide an opportunity for councillors to meet with their constituents to discuss any problems they may have with Council services, and we can often help with other problems too.

Alternatively, you can contact individual councillors during the week through Camden Council on 020 7974 1986 or you can e-mail us as follows:

West Hampstead

Fortune Green

Thursday 2 June 2011

West Hampstead Transition launch event Monday 6 June

Alexis Rowell
I’m very much looking forward to the launch event for Transition West Hampstead this coming Monday 6 June, from 7pm to 9pm at St James' Church Hall on Sheriff Road, NW6 2AR.

Our neighbours in Transition Town Kensal to Kilburn are helping with the launch and are providing their very own Nettle Pesto and Elderflower Cordial for people to sample... then a showing of the great BBC documentary 'A Farm for the Future'. Following that there will be some talks and discussion on how to set up Transition West Hampstead.

One of the presentations will be by Alexis Rowell, who was our Camden Sustainability Champion 2006-2010. I asked Alexis for a few paragraphs on what the transition movement is all about and here’s what he said:

“The Transition movement is about creating and enhancing vibrant, resilient communities who are actively addressing the twin problems of climate change and the end of cheap oil.

Transitioners believe that in many ways life will be better after oil – more local, less polluted, more neighbourly, less stressed – and that we will be better prepared to deal with the challenges if we start working together now.

The aim is to come up with a greener, more resilient vision for an area like West Hampstead, and then to get on with creating a community where we know more of our neighbours and can rely on them to help if we have a problem. We want to enable residents to learn or relearn essential skills, such as sewing, mending, making new things from old possessions and food growing.

There are hundreds of Transition Initiatives all over the world. In Camden there are active Transition groups in Belsize, Hampstead, Kentish Town, Kensal/Kilburn, Primrose Hill and Tufnell Park. See for more on the movement.”

Looking forward to seeing lots of you there!

Tuesday 31 May 2011

West Hampstead and Fortune Green Area Forum Monday 20 June

The next West Hampstead/Fortune Green Area Forum (Area Action Group) is scheduled for Monday, 20 June, at the Synagogue Community Hall on Dennington Park Road. Regular attenders have been notified by e-mail or letter.

Here’s the agenda for the meeting, which Cllr Keith Moffitt will be chairing:

7 - 7.30 pm: an opportunity to meet ward councillors informally over tea/coffee

7.30 on:

Blackburn Road development – Community investment programme
This will include an update on Camden's plans for making the best use of Council buildings in our area

Retail Business - West End Lane and beyond
Cllr Gillian-Risso Gill will report the latest developments affecting shops and restaurants in West Hampstead, including both West End Lane and Mill Lane.

Future of Camden Libraries
Cllr Flick Rea will report on the outcome of Camden's Libraries Consultation and what Camden's cabinet decided at its meeting on 8 June

Fortune Green
A quick update on how the work has gone

‘We are Camden’ online engagement
An introduction to Camden's new way of allowing local residents to connect with their area via the Camden website

We'll aim to finish by 9.30 at the latest.

We look forward to seeing lots of West Hampstead residents on 20 June.

Thursday 31 March 2011


On 11th March, the day that Sainsburys Local opened on West End Lane, Atlanta Food & Wine on West End Lane announced that it was closing. Our enquiries have confirmed that Cafe Nero, the national coffee chain, is to take over the property and are not likely to require planning permission for Change of Use since national case law allows it. I have asked Council Officers to identify the relevant case law and to advise where Camden's Food and Drink policy stands in relation to this, which prohibited further food and drink establishments being opened on West End Lane. A frequent complaint from residents is the lack of variety in shopping in West Hampstead with too many coffee shops already. The last thing needed is another national chain that will threaten the businesses of the local independents.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Getting the lowdown on all those West End Lane roadworks

Flick Rea and I did a walkabout with Camden council officers this morning to get an update on the progress of the various roadworks in Camden.

Before getting into the detail, quite a few people have asked us how Camden can afford to be doing this work when we’re hearing so much about cuts. The answer is that this work is being funded from this year’s budget, which is relatively speaking unaffected by the cuts, which really begin to bite in the next financial year, which starts in April.

We kicked off with a quick look at the West End Lane/Iverson Road corner. You can now see all the extra space that’s been freed up by demolishing the two corner shops, which is going to make that corner a lot safer for pedestrians. And if you stand on tip-toe and look over the fence you can see how incredibly wide the new Iverson Road pavement is going to be between West End Lane and the new Thameslink station due to open towards the end of the year. I don’t think any of the “artist’s impressions” we’ve seen so far make it clear just what a wide and open space this will be and just how different this part of our area will look. It should open up all sorts of interesting possibilities.

We also looked at the new surface on the Thameslink bridge, which mimics paving stones using an “imprint” technique. This is being used because bridges – and we have three along that stretch of West End Lane, including in front of West Hampstead tube station – are unsuitable for paving stones because there just isn’t room to accommodate paving stones and the sandbed they sit in together with all the utilities that have to be fitted in as well. But the “imprint” finish is pretty impressive and will also be used in front of the tube station.

Don’t be fooled by the rather messy finish at West Hampstead tube station entrance at the moment, it’s just work in progress and should look a lot better when it’s finished. The area in front of the station also feels a lot more spacious now the railings have been removed.

Various other work is going on, and one aspect that will be very welcome is a slight widening of the pavement in front of the “Paramount building”, where the narrow pavement has been a bone of contention ever since the building was erected. It’ll only be slightly wider, but as our supermarket friends up the road say “every little helps”. The same applies to a slight widening of the pavement on the Thameslink bridge on the other side of the road.

The other main point we discussed was the removal of the traffic lights at the junction of Mill Lane and West End Lane, which are being replaced by two zebra crossings – in fact going back to the way things were before the lights were installed six or seven years ago. When Camden consulted on this proposed removal, opinions were divided, but a key factor in the decision to remove the lights was that they were put into improve safety for Emmanuel School, who feel they made things worse rather than better.

It's frustrating that in some places the new pavements won't be as good as we'd like because they adjoin forecourt owned by the adjacent shops, but we've encouraged Camden to do the best they can in those circumstances. It's good they're managing to relocated some of the irritatingly located black boxes, particularly the one just in front of Costa Coffee.

So there’s a lot going on at the moment between the tube station and Mill Lane, but we hope that when it’s all finished it will feel worthwhile.

Friday 11 February 2011

Jubilee Line closures update

Tube users (that's most of us!) will be unsurprised to hear that the Jubilee line will continue to suffer from weekend closures up until Easter, although it looks like services southbound from  West Hampstead will only be affected on one weekend.
Councillors have just been sent the following table from TfL (via the Council).

A cross means the section is closed - grey means that part of the line is open.

West Hampstead - Stanmore (Jubilee)

Waterloo - West Hampstead (Jubilee)

Harrow-on-the-Hill - Aldgate (Metropolitan)

12/13 Feb



19/20 Feb


26/27 Feb


05/06 Mar




12/13 Mar



19/20 Mar



26/27 Mar


02/03 Apr


09/10 Apr



16/17 Apr


Fri 22 Apr (Good Friday)



Sat 23 Apr


Sun 24 Apr


Mon 25 Apr (Easter Monday)


TfL have assured us that works on the Jubilee Line will be complete by the end of Spring 2011.

We certainly hope so!

Sunday 6 February 2011

West Hampstead and Fortune Green Area Forum Monday 7 February

The latest West Hampstead/Fortune Green Area Forum (Area Action Group) is taking place tomorrow night, Monday 7 February, at the Synagogue Community Hall on Dennington Park Road. Regular attenders have been notified by e-mail or letter.

Here’s the agenda for the meeting, which Cllr Keith Moffitt will be chairing:

7 - 7.30 pm: an opportunity to meet ward councillors informally over tea/coffee

Meeting the financial challenge (7.35 pm – 8.05 pm)
Presentation by Councillor Theo Blackwell, Camden’s Cabinet member for Finance - looking at the implications of the council’s spending plans over the next three years and what this means for our local services and community groups?

The West Hampstead Jigsaw (8.05 pm – 8.25 pm)
An overview on a number of schemes and proposed developments which forms part of Camden’s Community Investment Programme for the Fortune Green and West Hampstead area  - (Fiona McKeith - Senior Area Review Surveyor)

Blackburn Road development (new student accommodation) (8.25 pm – 8.45 pm)
Explanation of the planning permission granted for the land formerly occupied by Mercedes Benz  - (Adrian Malcolm - Principal Planning Officer)

Libraries Consultation (8.45 pm – 9.00 pm)                  
Find out about Camden’s Libraries Consultation – (Cllr Flick Rea)
Plans for Fortune Green  (9.00pm - 9.15pm)
-    Update on plans for Fortune Green (Mark Stonebanks, Chair Friends of Fortune Green)

We look forward to seeing lots of West Hampatead residents there tomorrow night.

Friday 28 January 2011

Sainsbury Listens

Over the past few weeks the residents of Fawley Road and Bennett Court have waged a vociferous campaign with Sainsbury about their proposed store on West End Lane. The residents were concerned about noise and vibrations during the building work as well as the siting of plant and machinery, security of the building and deliveries.

Two site meetings were arranged with Sainsbury management and contractors and with local residents, supported by Councillor Risso-Gill, to listen to their concerns. Sainsbury have now completely revised their plans for installing equipment and have also committed to providing additional security measures to the building. They have also assured residents that there will only be one main delivery per day using the smallest van in the fleet, supplemented by two supplier deliveries in small vans that will hopefully not contribute to the traffic problems caused by Tesco. The residents are now satisfied that their concerns have been addressed as far as Sainsbury are able to do within the technical constraints required by Camden Council. They will however be monitoring noise levels any disturbance once the store opens.

Sainsbury plan the store will open around 25th February, subject to planning consent by Camden Council for the revised plans.

Thank you Sainsbury for listening to us.

Monday 24 January 2011


Following the successof the West Hampstead Community Christmas Market held on Saturday 11th December on West End Green, there has been much local enthusiasm for more markets in West Hampstead.

From a standing start at the beginning of November, the Christmas Market was organised by a local group of stalwart volunteeers and supported by Camden Council and sponsors Alexanders Estate Agents. There were 22 stalls selling a range of festive fare including food, chocolates, cushions, bags, clothes, flowers and pottery. The event was undoubtedly helped by bright sunny weather (thank goodness we didn't choose the following weekend with the snow!).

The stallholders have been surveyed and all the respondents said the market exceeded their expectations and they would be keen to participate in future events. A regular Farmers' Market, an Antiques and Craft Market have been suggested.

A steering group of local enthusiasts are currently exploring the viability of holding such events during the year. If you would like to join in or have views on the proposal, please register your interest at