Wednesday, 24 February 2010
As you can see from the numbers top left of my blog, the Lib Dems are the only party that can end Haringey Labour's rule. At the last local elections in 2006, Haringey elected 30 Labour councillors and 27 Lib Dems - not a single Conservative or Green was elected. In fact, it's now 12 years since the Conservatives won any council seat in Haringey.
I took this photo over Christmas when I was on holiday in New Zealand - a sign commemorating "one hundred years of local body government", brilliant.
Haringey was created in the local government reorganisation of 1965, so is just 45 years old... if it makes it to 100 I'm not sure local residents would appreciate a similar sign!
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Local residents will be able to put questions directly to some of the people involved in making the decisions about the Whittington's future. Lynne's recorded a short film about the meeting, which you can view by clicking here.
The meeting is on Thursday 4 March and will start at 8pm. It is being held at Greig City Academy in Hornsey (map here - use the entrance from Hillfield Avenue and follow the signs). If you've got any questions about the meeting, just call Lynne's office on 020 8340 5459.
As mentioned before, the Defend the Whittington Coalition have organised a protest march too, which Lynne will be going to with other Lib Dem colleagues to show our support for the campaign. That is this Saturday, starting at Highbury Fields at 12 noon and going to the Whittington Hospital. You can get details about the march on their website.
So, two more ways to show your opposition to the proposed closure of Whittington's A&E. And if you haven't signed our petition yet then please do so here.
Monday, 22 February 2010
I'm definitely not doing it again this year, so I won't be pestering everyone for sponsorship - some will be pleased to hear! However, one of my fellow Haringey councillors who also did it last year is running again this year, so please feel free to sponsor her.
Emma Jones, who is taking the training and finishing time of it all much more seriously than I did, is raising money this year for the Rainforest Foundation. You can sponsor her easily on her Justgiving page.
Sunday, 21 February 2010
As I have already blogged, the allotments are under threat of development - although they have some protection as Significant Local Open Land (SLOL). They also have an active and effective campaign group working to protect them, which has support from across the political spectrum.
There is a shortage of available allotments in Haringey, with people on the waiting list for years - which is a good enough reason in itself to fight against any development of this site. But my reason for posting these photos is to show that these allotments also play an important role as green, open space in my Fortis Green ward.
On the top photo you can see the campaign banner and on the one below you can see well into the distance. Being on a very popular path, heavily used by residents and school children, and next to Tetherdown Primary School, the loss to local residents of having these allotments replaced by housing would be significant.
With the Thames Water reservoir site and the archery club (you might just be able to see some archers if you enlarge that bottom photo), the allotments are part of an important bit of 'green'. It is vital that we don't concrete over every small bit of land we can find in London.
Friday, 19 February 2010
This paper is going to Tuesday’s meeting of the Labour Cabinet that runs Haringey, with some clear recommendations that will help leaseholders. It’s taken a lot of nagging from me, Lynne Featherstone, leaseholder groups, individual residents and others to get to this stage – but now at least some success.
Assuming that the recommendations are accepted, the biggest news for leaseholders is that they will see the costs of digital aerial installation capped at a maximum of £400. This is still a lot of money – and considerably more than many other London boroughs (you can read all about the original plans here). But it will more than halve some of the bills leaseholders were facing and importantly it is retrospective – so those that have already been forced to shell out a small fortune will be able to get some of their money back.
There will also be a block-by-block consultation – involving leaseholders and tenants – to see if each block wants the full (expensive) IRS system or the more basic digital aerial. If they go for the full IRS then the maximum cost will be £400 each, the basic system will obviously be cheaper.
A cap and block-by-block consultation are two of the things that us local Lib Dems and the Haringey Leaseholders Association have been calling for. The cap is higher than probably either of us would have set if we had the option, but will still come as a relief to many.
So, another victory for common sense and perseverance! Unless Haringey Labour decide to ignore the recommendations – we will find out next Tuesday.
Thursday, 18 February 2010
It finishes with Crimestoppers saying:
Details posted online are available for the world to see; you wouldn't hang a sign on your door saying you're out, so why would you post it online?
Sensible advice, but reminded me that delivering in my ward recently I found someone who had done exactly that - a big notice on their front door saying they were out of the country until the end of the month (so not to leave parcels on their doorstep). Which might help them in not getting any parcels nicked, but seems a bit of an invitation to burglars.
Sometimes when out delivering you do get to play the good samaritan a bit - ringing to tell people they've left their keys hanging out of the front door or their car, or occasionally finding front doors open the owners didn't realise weren't secure or finding a resident ill and in need of help. Wasn't much I could do about this note though, hope no one takes advantage.
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
While out delivering in Fortis Green, a resident showed me a leaflet they had received from the local Tories – partly as they were surprised to get a leaflet from someone other than the local Lib Dems and partly as they were amused by the title: It’s a three horse race.
It is a hilarious leaflet. The Conservative candidate is quoted as describing Hornsey & Wood Green as:
A classic 3-way marginal seat
Ho hum. Classic 3-way marginal? Hardly. The leaflet then uses a very suspect ‘how you intend to vote’ graph which they claim is based on a sample of 9,000 voters and shows only 190 votes between the three parties. Ho hum again.
Leaving aside the dubious Conservative party stats, let’s look at real stats – the result of the last general election (2005) in Hornsey & Wood Green:
Lynne Featherstone (Lib Dem) - 20,512 (43.3%)
Labour - 18,117 (38.3%)
Conservative - 6,014 (12.7%)
Others - 2687 (5.7%)
A three way marginal? It is marginal, but not three way. The Conservative candidate has as much chance of winning Hornsey & Wood Green as I have of flying to the moon for Easter.
The Conservative share of the vote has fallen in Hornsey & Wood Green at every general election since 1992, right down to the 12.7% they got last time. I don’t think anyone’s going to be fooled by this latest attempt by the Tories to pull the wool over the eyes of Haringey's voters. But just in case they are at least managing to fool themselves, I have permanently put actual, real, genuine stats at the top of my blog. So the Conservative candidate may want to refer back to these stats - real votes cast in real ballot boxes - before he gets too carried away.
Looking at the Tory quote, above, I was reminded of another quote I recently saw:
He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts - for support rather than illumination
Sunday, 14 February 2010
One example is Rethink, the mental health charity, which has set as its broad priorities for the new government to:
- tackle stigma and discrimination
- provide better access to services
- to give fairer treatment to those caught up in the criminal justice system
Saturday, 13 February 2010
They set up a trust to negotiate with Thames Water to buy the allotment land and have now agreed a price of £30,000 with them – so are now fundraising to get that money and secure the future of the allotments for good.
The concerns for the future started with Thames Water touting around the land for sale - at a much higher price than £30,000. The land is designated as Significant Local Open Land (SLOL), which makes housing development difficult – but once developers get hold of land like this you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll use every dollar they have to secure planning permission through any route they can. So the threat is always there.
So, good news for the campaign, although it’s not all perfect – you can read the latest updates in full on the campaign website. This also includes all the ways in which you can support the cause, from signing the e-petition to making a donation.
They are also organising fundraising events and the next one is:
COMEDY NIGHT AND PROMISES AUCTION, to be held in Tetherdown School Hall on Saturday 27th February. We’re hoping to have Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith from The League of Gentlemen, Mark Maier and Andrew Clover performing for us, as well as some fantastic items to bid for, with food provided and a pay bar. Tickets are £25 each and are going on sale very shortly.So you can put that in your diary and keep an eye out for details. The calendar I blogged about before sold out, so the group know what they’re doing! Hopefully this next fundraiser will be a big success too.
From a council point of view, my ward colleagues and I will obviously always resist any attempts to build over these (or any!) allotments if they come. Having chaired a scrutiny review on allotments a few years ago, I’m only too aware of the important role they have both for individuals and as a green, open space – and that demand for allotments already massively outstrips supply in many parts of Haringey.
For more information, do please visit the Save Fortis Green Allotments website.
Friday, 12 February 2010
The effect of Boris Johnson’s massive cuts to police funding will be a reduction of 455 police officers. Dee Doocey, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Policing Spokesperson and member of the Metropolitan Police Authority said about the Mayor’s statement that "the asset the police has could be put to better use":
… I entirely agree. However, he has failed to justify spending £2 million a year to chauffeur senior Met officers to and from work, and to provide first and business class flights for them when they travel abroad. He has failed to justify increasing the amount of money spent on press officers for the Met from £6 million to £7 million, or the £9 million they spend on consultants."You can keep up to date on what the Lib Dem members of the GLA are doing about this and other issues via their website.
Thursday, 11 February 2010
In 1998, Lynne Featherstone, Julia Glenn and June Anderson were elected as the first three Lib Dems on Haringey Council and immediately became the official opposition. I was elected to represent Fortis Green for the first time in 2002, as part of a massively increased opposition group of 15, then re-elected in 2006, with our group growing to 27. So, this May, I am hoping that the voters of Fortis Green will re-elect me again - so that I can be part of the even larger group that takes control of Haringey Council after four decades of Labour rule.
We had a lively and packed hustings meeting at Hornsey Bowls Club, which was an excellent venue (I hadn't been there before). There were contested hustings for a number of wards, with some excellent new candidates and I'm really pleased that there will be plenty of good and enthusiastic new colleagues joining us on the council in May.
Of course, that depends on us all continuing the year-round hard work, campaigning hard for the election on top of that and the voters agreeing with us that Haringey Lib Dems have the vision and ability to get a grip on Haringey and get the council moving in the right direction.
I will post a couple of photos from the selection meeting later. Both Robert Gorrie (Haringey Lib Dem Leader) and Lynne Featherstone gave great motivational speeches and there was a buzz in the room that can give us all confidence for the campaign. You'll all be interested to know the full list of candidates selected across the different wards... all in good time.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Details to be confirmed (no doubt Lynne will have them first, but I will post too) - but the basic details are that it is taking place on Saturday 27 February, starting at 12 noon. The more people who turn out for it, the louder the voice that the decision makers will hear.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
The link also gives a few other videos of long-range spectaculars - including the Nayim goal that produced the "Nayim from the halfway line" chant that is still popular (in some parts) to this day.
Whatever distance they're scored from, it would be nice to have some Spurs goals on our trip to Wolves tomorrow night - especially after the frustration of Saturday's goalless draw with Aston Villa at White Hart Lane. I think the BBC stats showed 28 shots on target from Spurs, while Villa were unrelentingly negative in their approach and could not really argue with the "Boring, boring Villa" chants aimed at them.
Monday, 8 February 2010
Sunday, 7 February 2010
That started back in July 2008, with Bounds Green Lib Dem councillor John Oakes writing to English Heritage requesting that Bounds Green Tube Station be put forward for listing, to ensure its future protection.
Two other Piccadilly line stations of similar style and date had already been listed – Turnpike Lane and Arnos Grove – and now, thanks to pressure from the Lib Dem team and local resident groups, Bounds Green joins them.
The photo shows (from left to right): Mr Ron Lock (Bounds Green and District Residents' Association), Station Supervisor Mr Ken Chikoti (back), Lynne Featherstone MP, Cllr Ron Aitken, Cllr John Oakes, Cara Jenkinson and Mr Keith Fawkes-Underwood, chairman of Hornsey Historical Society.
Well done to my Lib Dem colleagues and all the residents who helped get the station listed.
On a slight tangent, the architecture theme reminded me of the below photo I took of some shopfronts in Nelson (New Zealand) - click on it to enlarge it. A nice, old building with lots of charm… unfortunately with a rather less nice, modern addition next to it. A good example of why we need to list buildings like Bounds Green tube to give them proper protection!
Saturday, 6 February 2010
So, while thinking of that very purposeful and practical walking ahead of me, I’m just reminiscing back to a more leisurely walk over Christmas.
Well, the Rees-Dart track in the Wakatipu area of South Island, New Zealand, is not really all that leisurely. It’s a four-day walk (I get used to using the normal Kiwi word of ‘tramp’ instead of ‘walk’ while I’m over there - but if you tell people here you’ve 'been on a four-day tramp' it can cause some confusion).
For the Department of Conservation (DoC) information about the Rees-Dart track, click here.
We were lucky with the weather – although it was summer, there is a lot of rain down there all year round. But we had a dry first three days and only had rain (a lot of it) on our last day, Boxing Day. Still, made it all the more satisfying to finish the tramp and get back to Glenorchy for hot showers and dry clothes.
There is a great system of backcountry huts in New Zealand, placed perfectly for walks like this. You can see one of them in the top photo – Shelter Rock Hut. The other photos show: a random shot along the track on the first day; Snowy Creek, which makes a beautiful walk on the second day; and a little bridge. I should point out that the Rees-Dart track doesn’t have many bridges like this, you need some river-crossing skills. As the weather had been fairly dry when we did the track, we only came across one side-stream which involved going up to our waists – the rest were mostly just ankle or knee-deep for us.
You can click on any of the photos to get the bigger version of them. And for information about any of the other amazing walking tracks New Zealand has to offer, take a look at the DoC website.
Friday, 5 February 2010
The pledges focus on reducing inequality in education, with an extra £2.5bn being invested in schools - which could be used to cut class sizes, offer one-on-one tuition and provide catch-up classes.
The main schools to benefit from the money will be those taking on children who need more help, to start redressing the imbalance between those children who go to private schools and those who come from the poorest backgrounds.
You can read about the policy in detail by clicking here.
Barbara had a majority of over 20,000 when Lynne Featherstone first stood against her in 1997, but of course Lynne’s hard work overturned that and in 2005 Lynne was elected as the first Lib Dem MP for Hornsey and Wood Green.
Barbara has tried to be selected for a number of safe Labour seats (and they’ll need to be pretty safe, as she did lose a 20,000 vote majority in just two elections). I believe she has come close in some, but is currently still looking. She obviously didn’t fancy her chances facing Lynne at the ballot box again.
The latest selection I’ve seen Barbara Roche’s name on has been for the safe seat of Wigan. That seems to have been a selection meeting that has caused even more trouble than Haringey Labour’s selections – take a look at the news report of the shortlisting and the failure to hold the count properly. They have eventually selected and Barbara has missed out on this one, but I wish her well in finding a seat to contest.
While looking at the Hornsey and Wood Green election results, it’s interesting for people to remember the complete collapse in the Conservative vote across Hornsey and Wood Green. The Conservatives last won a general election here in 1987 and their vote has fallen in each election since, right down to a very distant third place on 12.7% at the last election.
UPDATE 11.02.10: Former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has announced his retirement today, meaning a selection coming up for his Ashfield seat in Nottinghamshire. With a majority that looks healthy - on paper - wonder if that will become Barbara's new focus?
Thursday, 4 February 2010
We are the only party to maintain this level of democracy for council candidate selections and I believe it keeps us closer to communities we seek to serve.
Absolute rubbish, of course, as well he knows. How democratic the Labour ward selections are is up for debate anyway – but the point I unfortunately have to make (again) is that our own selections are done entirely democratically.
Haringey Lib Dems have not selected any candidates for the elections in May yet, which includes sitting councillors like me. Nominations are in and there will be a hustings meeting and vote of our party membership next week. That’s a genuinely democratic election, one member-one vote - and a single transferable vote, at that!
Because we have campaigners and councillors working hard in wards across Haringey all year round, perhaps Cllr Goldberg thinks our candidates were selected years ago. But we have a genuinely democratic system – and plenty of competition for places, too.
We will of course be able to announce our candidates in due course… I’ll let you know if I make it into the three for Fortis Green!
One example of the huge task that Cllr Bevan already had on his hands with just housing is the issue of empty homes, highlighted by my Lib Dem colleague Cllr Richard Wilson recently.
Richard is pictured here with fellow Lib Dem campaigner Katherine Reece-Thomas outside a large three storey terrace house in Stroud Green ward, which has been empty for nearly a year. At the same time as this property stands empty, there are 2,315 families on Haringey’s housing waiting list needing a house with three bedrooms and 566 needing one with more than three bedrooms.
All in all, the latest figures show there are over 16,000 families waiting for a house or flat in Haringey – and there are 369 other empty properties as well as this one. So, as you can see, the maths isn’t good even with those empty properties brought back into use. But it is a scandal that so many properties are currently being left vacant by Haringey (a quarter of them for more than six months) and something that must be addressed.
At the same time Richard told me about this empty house, I was dealing with a resident who lives with two teenage children and two toddlers in a one bedroom flat – desperate for a move to more suitable accommodation. Who knows how many houses and flats which would be ideal for her are among those 370 lying empty?
As Richard (who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition as well as one of Stroud Green’s three Lib Dem councillors) said:
No wonder we have such long housing waiting lists in Haringey, when our Labour-run Council is so wasteful with its own housing stock.
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Now, children obviously develop at different speeds and in different ways, including the age at which they'll start to speak fluently. And Sasha has in effect been given a sort of provisional diagnosis, with relatively mild examples of behaviour which match the indicators for children with an autistic spectrum disorder. So we are, of course, all hoping that the behaviours that suggest autism now will simply disappear in time. Certainly, getting help and awareness at this early stage can only be a help.
My sister Steph has started a blog of her own, to document her experiences of dealing with the diagnosis and helping Sasha along with her continuing development – which you can read here.
Steph’s blog is completely non-political, as she is. If you start from her earliest post, you can read about the differing emotions that the situation has prompted and some examples of the behaviour that might or might not be indicative of an autistic spectrum disorder.
Steph has started the blog mostly as an easy way of keeping a diary of Sasha’s development, but also made it public as it might be a help to other parents finding themselves in the new and potentially frightening position of being told their child may have autism.
If you want comprehensive advice or information about autism, in children or adults, you can start with the National Autistic Society’s website.
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
This comes as no surprise and follows on from the resignation of Cabinet Member Brian Haley. And there are further rumblings that more councillors might be getting ready to quit Labour before the election.
The first concern for Haringey Labour (aside from trying not to lose any more of their colleagues before May) will be that their majority on the Council is now down to one. There are 29 Labour councillors and 28 opposition councillors. I bet they're really glad they cancelled the next Council meeting now - they still have to try and get their budget through on 22 February though!
The top photo is taken from what I assume would have been a good guard lookout position and the bottom one is the cell that my mate and I stayed in!
Monday, 1 February 2010
Those Oyster machines have been in place at some stations for ages (it feels like several years), tantalising passengers with the promise of integrated ticket technology at some point in the future.
Well, the future is now – if you want to travel from Ally Pally to Euston, say, you don’t any more have to buy a train ticket from Ally Pally to Finsbury Park then use your Oyster pre-pay just for the Finsbury Park to Euston bit on the Victoria Line. You can just touch in and out at Ally Pally and Euston, making it a single journey.
This is good news, of course, and something Lynne Featherstone had been pressing Network Rail hard on. But every silver lining has a cloud… As my Lib Dem colleague Cllr Richard Wilson explains in this blog post, it’s not all so simple if you have a travel card and want to go out of your usual zone.
That is easy with pre-pay on the tube network, with the extension charge just deducted from your pre-pay. But for rail they have created an Oyster Extension Permit:
If you want to travel beyond the zones covered by your Travelcard on National Rail services within London you must set an Oyster Extension Permit on your card before you travel. This means you will use pay as you go once you've gone outside the zone.Simple, eh?
Oyster Extension Permits
§ You can set your permit at any Tube or London Overground station ticket office or touchscreen ticket machine, Oyster Ticket Stops, some National Rail ticket offices or self-service ticket machines
§ You only need to set an Oyster Extension Permit when you start a journey within the zones covered by your Travelcard and want to travel outside those zones on National Rail
§ Only set your permit to your card just before you make your extension journey
§ You must have at least £1.50 pay as you go balance on your Oyster card to set one
§ A permit stays on your card until you touch out at the end of your journey
§ When touching out, the permit will be cleared from your Oyster card and the fare for the extension journey will be deducted from your pay as you go balance