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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.
Steele’s Village will be getting spooky once again next week, with a halloween pumkin competition. Bring your entries to the Legal Cafe on Haverstock Hill before 5:30pm on Tuesday 30th October: there will be prizes for the best pumpkins!
There’s also Christmas festivities in the pipeline. If you’re local (or even not so local, but a fan of our fantastic High Street) be sure to put Thursday 6th December in your diary now for the Christmas lights switch on and carols.
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.
The people of Steele’s Village are planning a street party on Sunday June 3rd to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee.
Lots of ideas are in the mix, including a community picnic, screens to watch the river procession and live jazz music.
For more information, or to offer to help out, email email@example.com or pop into the Legal Cafe or the Diamond Supermarket, both on Haverstock Hill.
Haverstock Resident in Sloane Square: “Please could you take me to Haverstock Hill, just above Prince of Wales Road?”
Cab driver: “You mean Steele’s Village?!”
The above coversation was happily related to me this week by one of the leading lights of our campaign to re-brand the area between Chalk Farm and Belsize Park as Steele’s Village. As many know by now, the name pays tribute to Sir Richard Steele, founding editor of the Spectator and a local celebrity of the eighteenth century.
Fast forward three hundred years and there’ll be a modern day local celebrity – Sir Derek Jocobi – at Steele’s Village this Tuesday 6th December to switch on the Christmas tree lights. The event kicks off from 4pm outside the Legal Cafe.
Residents and businesses in Steele’s Village are organising a Halloween pumpkin competition.
Judges will be looking for Haverstock’s spookiest Halloween pumpkins on 31st October, from 4pm. The competition is open to children of all ages whose families live, work, shop or go to school in the area.
To enter, please email organiser Lynn Whiting, or drop your details into any of Steele’s Village’s shops before Friday 28th October.
Schools in Camden are to receive an extra £3,579,000 thanks to the Liberal Democrats’ pupil premium.
Every school in the country will get £488 this year for each child on their roll who has free school meals. In a place like Camden, that means a huge cash boost targetted at our poorest pupils.
Of the main schools serving children here in Haverstock ward, Rhyl Primary will get £112,728, while Carlton Primary and Primrose Hill School both receive an extra £95,648. Haverstock School, our main secondary, wins a huge £247,904 – just short of a quarter of a million pounds.
These are significant sums of money, and can be used for extra one on one tuition, lessons after school, or whatever else schools think is needed to help children achieve their best. The Pupil Premium is a policy the Liberal Democrats devised and campaigned for, and our elected ministers put it at the heart of the coalition negotiations. Now it is a reality making a difference to our local schools in Camden.
Labour’s legacy was an education system where the richest 16-year olds were three times as likely to get five good GCSEs as the poorest. It’s pretty ironic that Ed Miliband’s old school, where he is fond of making speeches, will benefit to the tune of a quarter of a million pounds – thanks to a Liberal Democrat policy that his party opposed.
You can find out how much your local school will receive here.
Now, the Mayor of London has also agreed to my other requests. In a letter dated 9th September, he says: “I understand the stop signs should be changed in the next few weeks, together with the on-board bus announcements. Other publicity, such as timetables, will be updated during routine reprinting. I wish the local businesses and residents well in this venture.”
So next time you’re on a 168 or an N5, listen out for an announcement saying “alight here for Steele’s Village”.
Meanwhile the Evening Standard has given our campaign some publicity. It’s true, of course, that to properly rejuvenate an area it takes far more than a new name – but it’s a good first step. I met with local residents and businesses last week and we have heaps more ideas to develop the area: watch this space.
Camden Council has today controversially been ordered to disclose it’s list of empty properties under the Freedom of Information Act.
Of course it’s true that squatters can sometimes (though not always) cause real havoc in a community. However, you don’t get squatters without empty homes. The real scandal here is the number of properties the council have allowed to simply sit empty, sometimes for years, while thousands of local families languish on housing waiting lists.
The answer is not to invite squatters to move in, but to push harder for the owners of derelict homes to bring them back into use. The legal tools are there, the council just need to be willing to use them.
In Haverstock we have at least two long term empty properties in prominent locations that really bring down the area: at 2 Malden Road and 201 Prince of Wales Road. I have spent years trying to get action on these properties; haranguing the council’s legal and planning departments; involving the local Safer Neighbourhood team and Camden’s community safety staff and challenging the Cabinet Member for Housing at council meetings. I’ve even taken matters into my own hands, tracking down owners and urging them to complete renovation work.
Every step of the way, the list of excuses for doing nothing is endless.
The fact is, sometimes an owner lives a long way away, has no experience of planning or renovation, and finds it less hassle just to let a property rot. Instead of just accepting this situation, the council needs to apply both carrot and stick: coaxing and guiding absent owners through the planning system while making life difficult if they won’t play ball. We could even champion innovative schemes such as property guardianship (which isn’t really suitable for families, but can help a young person while providing some security for the property owner and the local community).
As it is, Camden’s utter complacency on this issue is letting down both local residents and those families in need of a home.
If you’re interested, you can read more from the excellent Empty Homes charity.