Sunday 27 October 2013

Camden Council preparation for severe weather expected overnight

Camden Council have sent us this summary of actions the Council has taken to prepare for the potential severe weather between Sunday night (27th) and Monday(28th) morning.

·         Engineering Services have been clearing drains and gullies in areas prone to surface water flooding.  This includes having the contractors on standby to respond  Sunday night and Monday.

·         Environment Service have been liaising with Veolia to ensure additional resources are available to clear leaves and debris over the weekend and also Monday afternoon to assist with any subsequent clear-up.

·         Parks and Open Space have briefed the tree surgeon contractors and confirmed they will be on standby in case of any issues.

·         Contact Camden are reviewing their cover for Sunday night in case there is an increase in calls.

·         Building Control have supplemented the duty officer rota for Sunday night and Monday, adding additional officers who will also be able to respond.

·         Emergency Management have made the AD Resilience aware of the situation and have made contact with equivalents in Camden police and Camden fire brigade and forwarded alerts to resilience colleagues in the borough.  Will continue to monitor weather updates and contact key staff as necessary.

·         Economic Development have facilitated messages to key contractors working on independent building sites on the borough to make sure they are aware and taking necessary actions.

·         Housing Repairs and Improvements are asking all scaffolding contractors to make sure all building sites are locked down to prevent flying debris.

·         Adult Social Care have facilitated contact with all service providers to raise awareness and ensure they are prepared.

·         Communications issued a joint  message (with HR) on Essentials yesterday and the Duty press officer is on standby to provide internal and external comms assistance over the weekend.

·         Schools, fortunately the schools are closed for the Half Term holidays.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Christmas Festivities on West End Green

Saturday 30th November     West Hampstead Christmas Market,   10am-4pm
                                            sponsored by the West Hampstead Business Association.
                                            Stalls will include local artists, crafts, festive food, jewelry
                                            and cards.
                                            Activities will include African drumming, carol singing, arts
                                            and crafts and dancing for families and children.

6, 7, 8th December              Cabbages & Frocks Festive Marketplace - to 4pm each day
                                            Stalls will include festive fayre, vintage arts and crafts and
                                            some food

Saturday 12 October 2013

No to shelter at northbound bus stop by Thameslink Station on West End Lane

Various residents have asked me why there isn't a shelter at the very heavily used bus stop next to the West Hampstead Thameslink station on West End Lane, next to the Black Path entrance. I've been caught there in the pouring rain myself a few times, and even the old phone box that provided refuge in a storm disappeared some time ago.

So I asked Camden if a shelter could be installed there. Sadly, it turns out there is a very good reason why the answer is "no". The stop is on a bridge, which means there is insufficient depth to accommodate the electrics and so on for a shelter. In fact, it's the same reason this stretch doesn't have proper paving, but instead an "imprint" surface which mimics the look of paving slabs.

A disappointing response but at least the reason for it is clear.

Friday 11 October 2013

Consultation on the proposed expansion of Kingsgate School and redevelopment of Liddle Road site.

As West Hampstead Ward Councillors we fully support the need for a new primary school in the area.

At present there is a Public Consultation about the proposed expansion of Kingsgate School and the redevelopment of the Liddell Road site ( with a closing date of Tuesday 15th October 2013.

The need for additional school places in the area should be a high priority.  Under the present Government policy, any new school would have to be a Free school or Academy and two new Free schools have been opened in other parts of Camden during the past year, funded by the Government.  Unfortunately, the current Labour Administration,  is  ideologically opposed to the option (even though academies were introduced by the last Labour Government) and so have not addressed the escalating school place shortage problem in the North West of the Borough  and only now promoting the expansion of an existing school that is funded by building private homes for sale.  The new places will not be available untill 2016 at the earliest.

As Ward Councillors we continue to campaign for extra school places but we believe that the approach being consulted on is flawed for the following reasons:

1)  There can be no educational case made to have a school based on two sites, a mile apart with railway lines in between with no direct access route between the two.  Separating Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils would require additional resources and effort from staff to promote a single school ethos as well as providing a lack of continuity to the children.  Schools operating from two sites should be in close proximity to each other and so, in reality, Kingsgate would have to operate as two separate schools.

2)  A 4-form intake at one school could prove problematic in meeting future demographic and educational needs.  Whilst 4 forms could be accommodated in a new building, Kingsgate is currently in an old Victorian building that may not be suitable for the modern  teaching methods for a 4-form older year group entry.

3)  The increase of 412 additional pupils on the new site will add to traffic and pedestrian congestion on West End Lane, Kilburn High and surrounding streets during peak morning rush hours and in the afternoons with families travelling to, between and from the two sites.  Access between the two locations would be particularly problematic to parents with children attending each site, even if start and finishing times are staggered and would be unduly tiring for young siblings.

4)  The new proposed catchment area equidistant between the  two sites will mean that some children in Kilburn Ward, who make up much of the current Kingsgate intake, will  have less change of attending Kingsgate School than they do now and therefore would be disadvantaged.  Those children who failed to get a place this year would be even worse off.

5)  In order to finance the new school under the proposed plan it will be necessary to build 120-160 new homes for sale (equivalent to 60-80% of the West Hampstead Square development) but are unlikely to include adequate social or "affordable" housing for local residents.  In addition, the influx of around 300 additional residents in an area already subject to intense development will have a cumulative impact on local services such as transport, traffic, parking, health services, parks and playgrounds as well as school places.

6)   The 33 profitable businesses currently on site which provide employment and services to local residents will be displaced which will have an effect on the local economy.  Although a small amount of new employment is included in the new development, it will not replace what is being displaced.

What West Hampstead needs is a new 2-form entry secular school that would address the needs of West Hampstead children and not deprive children in neighbouring wards of school places.  If an application had been made to build a Free School or academy the funding would have come from Central Government and so there would be no need for Camden Council to raise money through building more homes for sale.  We take a pragmatic view of accessing the funding that is available through Central Government, rather than putting personal political ideologies before the needs of local children.  Kingsgate is an Outstanding school and its success and education provision to local children should not be compromised by political expediency.

We would be very interested in having receiving further thoughts and feedback from local residents on this issue and the consultation process.

Further information on the Council's proposal can be found at  Comments on the consultation can be emailed to by Tuesday 15th October, 201