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Camden Council have proposed allowing a mobile refreshment stand in Talacre Gardens.
It’s pretty obvious that what’s driving the council is a need to find new sources of income – this is part of a deal that would see sites rented out across 12 of the borough’s parks and open spaces. However, if litter and noise could be kept under control, and if the outlet were discreet, I can see that some people might like to be able to buy teas, coffees and snacks on their way through the park.
We also need to consider the impact on existing local businesses – both Cafe du Coin and (more recently) The Fields Beneath have loyal local audiences and have worked hard to establish themselves in the community.
I’m interested to know what you think before I respond to the council’s consultation. Please do drop me an email or, alternatively, you can complete the public consultation directly, here.
Camden Town is known for it’s buzzing music scene and a new street installation, based on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, is set to bring our unique heritage to life.
The project, led by the innovative business group Camden Town Unlimited, could see up to 25 artists honoured by a series of stones set into the pavement along Chalk Farm Road.
While lots of people will love seeing Camden’s cultural contribution recognised in this way, there’s no doubt some residents will shudder at yet another ploy to drag more tourists to Camden Town. Camden Market is already one of the most visited attractions in London – and while that’s great for the local economy and thriving local businesses, there’s no doubt the heavy flow of people can take its toll.
Personally, I think this installation could help. By focussing attention on the main streets, we should hold visitor’s attention and discourage them from heading off into the smaller residential roads where people live.
There will be a drop-in event for local residents and businesses to hear more information and express their own views on Saturday 17th November, from 10am until 2pm, at Castlehaven Community Centre. I first wrote about this idea almost a year ago, so it’s great the project is now at a stage where the community can have their say.
An incredible 25,000 people came to see the Olympic Torch as it passed through Chalk Farm last month. Don’t despair if you weren’t one of them – there’s another chance with the Paralymic Flame this week, which will enter Camden at 10am on Wednesday 29th August.
The flame will travel through Regent’s Park, officially arriving in Camden from the Outer Circle, via St. Mark’s Gate, at the northern end of the park. It then makes its way south along the Broadwalk, before leaving the park and entering Portland Place in Westminster at about 10.30am.
Camden Council are hosting a morning of sporting activities to welcome the torch, promising football, volley ball and athletics for residents of all ages. Activities will be taking place from 9am to 11.30am at the northern end of Regent’s Park (or, for the less sporty types, it’s fine to just sit and watch the torch pass!)
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.
Camden’s musical heritage could be celebrated by bringing a “Music Walk of Fame” to our streets.
The walk of fame is being proposed by a group of local entrepeneurs, working closely with Camden Town Unlimited, and would initially honour 25 artists with stones set into the pavement along Camden High Street and Chalk Farm Road.
The installation could give local residents a real sense of pride in the exciting, dynamic and creative part of London that we live in – while helping local businesses by bringing fans to the area for the first time. And, by following the route along the main road, visitors would be encouraged not to wander off into residential side streets.
What do you think of this idea? Do you support it? How do you think the first stars should be chosen? How can local residents get involved? I’d love to hear your views so do drop me a line.
Schools and children’s services look set to be hardest hit by the strike action tomorrow, while many other services in Camden will remain open or partically open.
In Haverstock the notable exceptions are Talacre Sports Centre and Queen’s Crescent Library, which both look likely to remain closed for the day.
I’ve reproduced the council’s full summary below, but it’s worth keeping an eye on Camden’s website for further updates. For more information on the background to the strikes and the government’s most recent offer on pensions, the Guardian has a pretty balanced report, here.
Children, schools and families services
- Schools – most schools in Camden will be closed. Parents will have been informed by their child’s school.
- Integrated early years– parents will have been informed by their Children’s Centres. Most will be closed.
- Family services and social work– we will deal with cases on an emergency priority basis.
- Integrated youth support service–YOS Highbury court and essential services will be open.
- Children, schools and families customer service and complaints– will offer a reduced but open service.
- Welfare, inclusion and support in education– will offer a reduced but open service.
- Children’s social work and QA – an emergency service will operate.
Housing and adult social care services
Most of our housing and adult social care services are expected to remain open or partially open, including some of our frontline adult social care services. We are not expecting any of these services to fully close.
Please see a summary below, which will be updated on Wednesday morning:
- Assessment and care management service (this team assesses people’s social care needs and arranges services accordingly) – will be open.
- Careline telecare (our 24 hour telephone support service for vulnerable people) – will be running
- Temporary accommodation (hostels) – will be open
- Residential care homes – will be open
- Supported living services (support services provided to vulnerable tenants) – will be open
- Housing repairs and improvements – will be partially open. We are rescheduling planned work so that we will be able to respond to emergencies and urgent repairs
- Passenger and accessible transport service – is expected to run as usual but will be assessed on Wednesday.
Culture and environment services
- Libraries– we expect to open Swiss Cottage, Holborn and St Pancras libraries, however activities planned for 30 November will not be taking place. All library activities and services will run as usual from Thursday 1 December 2011.
- Camden transport services – there is likely to be considerable disruption. Demand for services will be assessed on the day.
- Environment services – there may be slight delays but most activities will not be affected.
- Leisure centres – Talacre Sports Centre as well as Cantelowes and Camden Town sports pitches will be closed.
- Registrars will be open for the registration of deaths.
The final decision on the future of the former Prince of Wales Road Polytechnic building (now a branch of Pizza Express) has been delayed until November.
The Camden New Journal have printed a great photo of the rally to save the much loved building, taken by residents on the day. You can just make out me, in green on the left, and Jill Fraser, slap bang in the middle – alongside campaigners from across Kentish Town. It’s a real shame we will now have to wait a little longer to see if our campaign has been successful.
The developer claims the building, which he wants to replace with luxury flats, is not the “special landmark” that local people say it is. Frankly, I believe local residents are best placed to decide which buildings are our special local landmarks. That’s why, whichever way this decision ultimately goes, we need a local list set up as soon as possible to protect important pieces of Camden heritage.
Transition Kentish Town have organised a contemporary art exhibition at their pop-up shop on Fortess Road.
I am a big fan of pop-up shops at the best of times (anything’s better than a big empty space), but this initiative to bring new art onto the High Street seems particularly worthwhile. The Transition movement itself is really interesting: unlike lots of environmental campaigns which take a shock and awe approach, Transition promotes small, positive, local ways to bring about change, while doing good for the community.
The exhibition takes its inspiration from Gillian Tindall’s excellent book, “The Fields Beneath”, which uses Kentish Town as a case study to examine how layers of history and human patterns build up to make places.
I’d say it’s well worth a visit. Take a look at their flyer for more information.
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.