Wednesday, 23 April 2014

An independent voice for Crouch End too...

...just a quick post to let anyone who lives in Crouch End ward know that you also have the chance to vote to re-elect an independent candidate - Cllr Lyn Weber, who has been a councillor there since 2006.

If you are in Crouch End and want to see what Lyn does or get in touch with her, you can visit her website here.

I heard that both Labour and Lib Dem canvassers had been telling voters in Crouch End that Lyn wasn't standing again - are they scared of what damage an Independent candidate might do to their parties' votes?

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Standing for re-election

I'm pleased to be able to say that I am standing for re-election as an independent councillor in Fortis Green on Thursday 22 May.

When I resigned from the Lib Dems in December 2010 (following the national party's decision to vote to treble tuition fees) I said that I wouldn't be joining another political party and would serve the rest of my term as an independent. At that time, I expected to continue until 2014 and then stand down.

But I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction from council colleagues from both parties and, more importantly, the local people in my Fortis Green ward. I've still been able to great results for residents facing problems with Haringey Council. I've still been able to stand up for local residents in the council chamber. I've still been able to do the important job of representing the ward.

In fact, it all became easier, because I no longer had to worry about a political party. The last three and a half years have been the best of my twelve as a local councillor here in Fortis Green. So, when local residents heard I was thinking of standing down at this election and urged me to stand, I was at first really touched and then eventually convinced that I should.

I certainly won't be able to compete with the national parties for number of leaflets through your door (though everyone in the ward will hopefully get one!) but I know I can compete on commitment and enthusiasm.

Thursday 22 May is polling day - not far away at all - and postal votes will start to be cast even sooner. Of course, I would love everyone living in my ward to vote for me, but wherever you live and whoever you vote for, please just do make sure you vote!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Getting rubbish collected - not always as easy as it should be

The ongoing saga of overflowing, uncollected bins on Queens Avenue in my ward is hopefully drawing to a close - and not before time.

With residents, I've been raising this every way I can - as a ward councillor, directly with Veolia, with the Leader of the Council and in the local press - you can see an article about it on page 5 of last week's Ham & High. Incidentally, on the front page of that edition of the Ham & High you can also see the photo of the amusing (but costly) mistake council contractors made painting arrows on a roundabout, as highlighted by Haringey's Lib Dem opposition.

At my request, the Leader of the Council has also asked the most senior council officer in charge of Haringey's overall waste collection to look directly at the problems on Queens Avenue. So it's now squarely with Veolia to make sure they can provide an acceptable level of service. Part of that may be replacing some of the trade-size bins with bins that they can more easily access.

The local residents (and I) certainly won't accept this dragging on any longer - everyone pays their council tax and has a right to expect their rubbish to be collected. The occasional missed collection most residents understand if there is a good reason and it is quickly rectified, but some houses on Queens Avenue have been having the occasional successful collection, rather than the other way around.

I've also been pressing the council on similar problems raised on Gilson Place - if you are experiencing problems too, please let me know by contacting me through the box on the top right of this blog.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Fortis Green or Muswell Hill? Advice surgeries for all!

Over the last 12 years as a councillor for Fortis Green I've come across lots of residents who don't know (and probably don't care) which ward they live in - Fortis Green or Muswell Hill. Often the Muswell Hill councillors will find residents from my ward turning up to their surgery.

If you live on Fortis Green, or any of the roads off it, then you might well guess right first time. But if you live on Queens Avenue, Kings Avenue, Tetherdown, Coppetts Road, Creighton Avenue, the Coldfall estate, Gilson Place, Pages Hill or Pages Lane, Colney Hatch Lane, the top of Dukes Avenue, Woodside Avenue (or Lanchester or Fordington roads off it), Greenham Road, Wellfield Avenue, Colney Hatch Lane or the half of Muswell Hill Broadway that is in my Fortis Green ward then you might naturally just think "Muswell Hill ward, yes?".

And if you're in the bit of Fortis Green that covers Great North Road, Aylmer Road & Parade and Bancroft Avenue then you might feel quite detached from Haringey altogether, let alone Fortis Green. But you're all in my Fortis Green ward and I've successfully helped residents across all these streets (and the rest in my ward) over the last 12 years.

If you do live in Fortis Green ward and have an issue you would like help with, you can just email me. But I also hold a monthly advice surgery - just get in touch to make an appointment. Outside of those regular slots I am also happy to arrange a time to come and visit local residents at home to discuss anything I can help with. So please use the form at the top right of this blog or call me on 07976 457 453.

The easiest way to find out not just if I am your councillor but also who your MP, London Assembly members and MEPs are is to enter your postcode at www.writetothem.com.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Much of a muchness


Just three games left of the season until the gaping non-football hole that is the
summer (well, I suppose there is that World Cup...) and two for me to go to - I'll be in my usual seat at White Hart Lane for the last game of the season against Villa and also off to the away game at West Ham the week before that.

Today was not exactly vintage, but a win is a win. And the sun did come out once in a while.


Friday, 18 April 2014

Time for a 20mph speed limit for Haringey


Haringey's Lib Dem group had been calling for a borough-wide 20mph speed limit and last year Haringey's Labour group also committed to it - in principle, at least.

There was a public consultation and a commitment from Transport for London of £400,000 of funding last year. But if you take a look at the council's website, you'll find no news about it for this year - that's four months with what looks like no progress,

It's time for the council to get on and implement this. The medical evidence on the dangers of collision at 20mph vs 30mph is inarguable - let's make our roads safer for everyone. And, for those that have experienced trouble with Haringey's speedbumps before, worth noting that the plans do not involve sticking new speedbumps everywhere!

And if you've got any doubts about introducing a 20mph limit, the campaign group 20's Plenty For Us has a handy factsheet dispelling some of the myths that are often bandied about.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Paying too much for gas and electricity?

Haringey is currently taking applications for their Big Community Switch. In short, this is where lots of local residents sign up and then good rates for electricity and gas are negotiated for them as a group.

All you need to do is register your interest, then on regular dates through the year a deal is offered - you'll get an email telling you what the offer is and how much it's likely to save you, then you can decide whether to take up the offer or not. So it's risk free, you're not obliged to switch if you don't think the offer is good enough or change your mind.

I've used it to switch my electricity and gas supply, getting a cheaper deal from a new supplier. The first time an offer came through, it wasn't worth me switching so I declined, but the second time the offer suited me better and I switched to make the saving.

Easy as anything, free to sign up, your choice all the way. Full details are here.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Water, water everywhere: basements and hydrology reports

Planning applications have been one of the most common things local residents have come to me about in my 12 years as a Fortis Green councillor.

Increasingly, one of the big concerns has been about the scale of excavations for basements and the effect that has on water flow for flooding or redirecting of underwater flows. There's at least one such application (actually a proposed amendment to an approved application) in my ward now, on Woodside Avenue at the rear of Lauradale Road.

One of the ways the Planning Committee, made up of councillors from across Haringey, tries to deal with concerns of residents on this front is to slap a condition on planning permission that a hydrology report must be produced before digging work begins. All sounds like a sensible check and maybe that's the end of the problem?

Well, the $64,000 question is - what exactly counts as a hydrology report? I asked the council exactly this a month or two ago and was told this is what is needed to satisfy a condition like that if attached to planning permission:

When a hydrology report is submitted to discharge a planning condition it is expected that it is produced by a professional with the requisite expertise and the report should set out the expertise the author has. The report would be expected to assess the impact of the development on the hydrology of the area. The exact contents would depend on the ground conditions and geology of the area.

After submission the report will be assessed by planning officers taking account of local knowledge of the hydrology of the area and where necessary the expertise of the Council’s Flood and Surface Water Manager and the Council’s Building Control Department will be sought.

That's fairly vague, I'd say, and certainly in the past there have been hydrology reports that have had little more than a cursory "yeah, everything probably ok" sort of approach. For me, the responsibility really has to rest with the developer to provide a proper and fair analysis of what the effects of their work will be.

I'd be interested to hear from people either from Haringey or other council areas who have had good or bad experiences when it comes to hydrology reports and planning permission - you can contact me using the box on the top right of this blog.
All views expressed in my blog are my own and do not represent any other person, party or organisation