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Residents and businesses in Chalk Farm and Steele’s Village are calling on the Mayor of London to extend the Cycle Hire Scheme further North.At the moment, cyclists using the popular scheme can only get as far as Castlehaven Road in Camden Town. While Chalk Farm Station and Haverstock Hill would be popular extensions, the Mayor insists (somewhat bizarrely) that the local “topography” is not suitable for cycling. In other words: it’s too hilly.
South West London will be seeing more and more hire stations over the next few years, but the next time the Mayor has said he will even consider more sites in Camden is 2016. This means that Chalk Farm residents miss out on the opportunity to cycle all the way home and local businesses don’t get the benefit of being on the cycle network.
I raised this issue at the last Full Council meeting, and asked Camden to help residents prepare sites and lobby the Mayor.
Camden Council has posted it’s winter weather pages once again this Decemeber, to carry all the information local residents will need if predictions of severe weather in the Borough prove to be correct.
If you’re a local community group in Camden you can get prepared by claiming your free snow shovel from the council.
The Olympic torch will begin the final day of its journey around the UK here in Haverstock ward.
The torch will set off from the Roundhouse on Chalk Farm Road at 6:45am on 26th July 2012, before making its way down the High Street, past Camden Market, through St. Pancras Gardens and Granary Square and ending it’s trip through Camden at St. Pancras International Station.
For more information, have a look at the Olympic Torch Relay page on Camden Council’s website, here.
A big thank you to everyone who has read this blog over the last year. I’ve been looking over our stats and am pleased to say we’ve had heaps more people reading this year than last – and using the blog to get in touch or comment on local issues.
We set this blog up to make it easy for residents to see what their local councillors are up to, and to be a community resource for local news and views. Hopefully you’ve found our posts useful – but we’re always keen to hear feedback so do get in touch if there’s anything you’d like to see more/less of, or that we can do better.
Meanwhile, (drum roll please), here’s our top 5 most read stories of 2011:
(2) Camden comes together after riots - there was huge distress and a hunger for updates and information after Chalk Farm Road found itself at the centre of riots in Camden.
(3) More than a Pizza Express – the campaign to save the old North London Polytechnic assembly hall brought together residents from across Kentish Town. We learnt we had been successful just before the Christmas break.
(4) Voting to save Camden’s libraries – Labour’s threats to the borough’s libraries has been a long running political battle this year, with lots of public support for the Liberal Democrat motion to reject closures. Queen’s Crescent Library may have been saved, but not all libraries are yet in the clear.
(5) How Chalk Farm survived the riots – after the immediate shock, lots of people tried to make sense and draw lessons from the riots. I penned a piece for the Spectator website reflecting the experience in Chalk Farm.
Last year I asked for comments on the 393 bus route, which was under review by Transport for London.
One of the main things that came back was that people wanted the route to go all the way up to Morrisons, rather than stopping at the bottom of the hill.
We fed these comments back – and I’m pleased to say that it may have taken a while, but transport chiefs have listened and agreed that a bus stop at the top of the hill makes more sense.
The change took effect on 22nd October, and should make it much easier for Haverstock residents to get home with heavy shopping bags.
Thanks to Camden’s transport planners, Transport for London and the staff at Chalk Farm Morrisons for working together and making it happen.
Confused commuters are currently being confronted with blank information screens inside Chalk Farm tube station.
The electronic screens have been out of action for three days in a row and, after several people have been in touch, I have now complained about these to Transport for London (TfL) and asked for repair work as soon as possible.
Without the screens it is impossible to tell when the next train is coming, or which branch of the Northern line it is running on. OK, so it’s not the biggest problem we face in Haverstock right now, but nevertheless an unnecessary inconvenience for passengers that should be pretty easy to put right.
I’ll let you know if I hear anything back from TfL.
Update 11th November: I had a message from TfL yesterday saying they were on the case, and the screens seem to be back in working order this morning. Good news.
Having spent the last few days talking to people in Camden and Chalk Farm, I wanted to record some of the uplifting stories I’ve heard. You can read my account of a difficult few days for our community at the Spectator website, here:
The latest news is hopeful. There was a very minor and isolated incident on Haverstock Hill last night which, while scary for those involved, was quickly dealt with by the authorities. The council has engaged in a huge clean up operation, services are running again as normal and the police are starting to investigate and charge those who were involved.
I’d urge any local businesses that have suffered damage or disruption to contact the council’s business rates department on 020 7974 6460. We have been assured that Camden will be symathetic to your position, but please do get in touch if you experience problems.
We are now entering a period of reflection, and there will be many questions asked over the coming weeks and months. I intend to focus my efforts on the areas that the council actually has some control over. Everyone has said what a huge difference it made to have an extra 200 officers out in Camden. Meanwhile, community police officers are a crucial link betweeen real people and the Met. They are known and trusted by residents, and therefore play a crucial role in collecting the intelligence that keeps people safe. Against this backdrop, the council must think again on their plans to axe community policing in Camden Town.
More on this soon, but do have a look at some of the stories from Monday night if you get a chance.
Last night the Labour Cabinet placed Camden libraries on “death watch”.
In a rare glimmer of good news, it was at least confirmed that Queen’s Crescent Library seems to be safe following a huge local campaign which saw the establishment of a new Friends group. But the council plans to wash its hands of much loved Heath, Belsize and Chalk Farm libraries, with Highgate massively chopped down; Camden Town and Regents Park left with very uncertain futures, and opening hours slashed across the board.
This is all despite a massive campaign that saw thousands of petition signatures and dedicated library users marching on the Town Hall. At a special meeting on libraries called by the Liberal Democrats, every single Labour councillor present voted against our motion to keep libraries open, even those who had a library on their patch. So perhaps, sadly, we shouldn’t be that surprised at this final blow this morning. In fact, the true picture is not that far away from council officer’s original plans to scale down to just four libraries, dismissed by Labour as wild rumour at the time.
So, what next for our libraries? The campaign will continue, and rightly so: public pressure has helped save some libraries. It may be some local groups can scrabble to put together a convincing case to run a library on their own.
Most importantly, we have to keep challenging Labour’s assertion that there is no other way. Camden people are savvy enough to see through this spin. There is no law that says councils have to close libraries: indeed every single Liberal Democrat authority, and many Labour ones, have been able to protect their library services. Camden needs to go back to the drawing board and do the same.