Sunday, 17 December 2017

Mill Hill Focus - Issue #12 - Mill Hill Rugby Club wins prestigious community award!

Mill Hill is back to normal over all the fun of last weeks blizzard. This time last week, we awoke to a picture book view. As the snow cleared, it emerged that the council gritting operation across Mill Hill and more generally in the Borough of Barnet left a lot to be desired. A 240 bus got stuck on Hammers Hill on Sunday. Clearly bus routes and main roads should be the first priority for gritting and we'd expect steep hills such as Hammers Lane to be the top priority of all, as a bus route.

We've also been contacted by parents of St Pauls School unhappy that the pavements outside the school were very slippery and unsafe. Public buildings such as schools, Doctors Surgeries, Train Stations and Hospitals should be made a priority for pavement treatment.

The excuses from the council that the weather took them by surprise are simply not good enough. If there is a snow forecast, they should have staff on standby and should be monitoring the situation 24 x 7 until the weather has cleared. We'd like to see some action from our local councillors in Mill Hill. Between our three Mill Hill Councillors, they receive over £30,000 in allowances a year, so they should be out and about inspecting the key roads and paved areas, making sure that council staff are on the case and that local residents get the services from the council they pay for in Council Tax.

On a happier note, Mill Hill Rugby Club, our fantastic local grass roots team, won the prestigious Barnet Eye Community Awards Sports Club of the Year for 2017.  This is awarded to the sports club that has put most into the Community in the Borough of Barnet. Just to demonstrate what a great club they are, they immediately organised a special food collection for Colindale Foodbank, who won the Barnet Charity of The Year Awards.

You can watch the whole awards ceremony here


Transport Update

The Barnet Eye did a very detailed analysis of the state of the public transport options in and around Mill Hill. There were some pretty useful ideas. Here are a few suggestions that we would like to see adopted.
"We would like to see more of a contribution for developers of large scale projects. We would like to see a fair levy on those who get benefits from projects.  If your house price doubles, because a rail service is improved, surely a percentage of that profit should go into the pot to fund future infrastructure projects. Likewise some of it should be given to residents who get no benefit and suffer a degree of property blight. Crossrail is a prime example, with huge winners and losers. We believe if some of the gains could be shared, we'd see less of the interminable public enquiry culture that has developed with all large schemes. It seems highly unreasonable that some win and some lose at the whim of a civil servant in the Ministry of Transport. 

Another aspect that deserves some investigation is whether road users should have to contribute to rail schemes that alleviate congestion. If a rail scheme decreases journey times for road users and presumably reduces fuel costs, maybe a percentage of this cash could be funnelled back int future schemes. "
For Thameslink users, there are some major service disruptions over the Xmas Period. Here are a summary. Click the link for the relevant day

Overview of Thameslink service alterations

Christmas Eve

Christmas and Boxing Day

New Year’s Day


Other news

This week we had the Leader of Barnet Council, Richard Cornelius doing a Q&A session about council services at Hartley Hall. Here is a report of the activities.

Cllr Cornelius reported that 9,000 new school primary school places had been created,  to support Barnets expanding population. He said the next challenge is to ensure that the places are available at secondary schools as these children grow up.

These have been created to support 7 major regeneration schemes. Of these Stonegrove is nearly completed.  The council will generate £895 million in revenue as a result of the developments. Brent Cross Shopping centre double in size. The business rates will pay back money to build Brent Cross West Railway station.

Cllr Cornelius then looked at the downside. He sated that traffic will be a nightmare. All major roads around Brent Cross will be reworked (A1, A406, A41). Three local schools will be rebuilt.

With regards to regeneration across the Borough, 27,000 new homes are in the pipeline. 20,000 have planning permission. Cllr Cornelius confessed that he is terrified by this,  especially as the Mayor of London wants more. He felt this could destroy the nature of Barnet.

On a  more postive note, he listed some developments for younger people. New youth zone in Burnt Oak. He said young people have to pay to get in a nominal fee to get in to ensure they understand that the service has value. The Council are also rebuilding Copthall leisure centre in2018. A new pool in Victoria recreation ground is being built.  

With regards to road maintenance, he detailed how a rectangular road repair machine has been purchased. This does "semi permanent repairs", which means that they last longer apparently. It seems square repairs are better than round ones. He detailed how street cleaning could be improved by New York style parking restrictions to clean one side of road at a time.

He finished off with by stating "We are a family friendly borough!".

Then the questions (in italics)

Why has MH Broadway. Why has it been allowed to degenerate into an eyesore?
RC. We need to be harder on people who put waste out. Whetstone and North Finchley are worse. He stated that businesses can only be fined small amounts, so we need to work with them.
A question about The Railway pub in Edgware. There is a sold sign,  and it is now a car wash. Huge coaches turn up and drop off immigrants what is happening?

RC: Tfl and Broadwalk are looking at redeveloping Edgware, but it is hard to police local private property. 

Richard Logue. Less difficult question first. Need more open comprehensive places. What options if Compton don't come.

RC. Due to law and govt policy, there are limited options, however Council supportive of Compton move to Mill Hill.  He noted that Saracens academy is opening and that all councillors voted to give Saracens freedom of Borough. for their community participation.
Pentavia. The busy retail park was popular, local wish to see retail on the site. Will council enforce design brief. 

RC. Noted that the scheme had the same developer as Barnet House, which has been refused. However Barnet needs 1,200 homes a year, so it is hard to oppose schemes.
A local residents stated that the council were looking for savings. He said that step free access to Mill Hill Broadway had been estimated as costing  £12 million. He had received a quote for  £2 million, from a recognised engineering company when running a campaign two yers ago. Why not use that company?

RC: We will check that out. I'd be mad not to.

A resident queried proposed budget savings. He said £70 million spent  on policy and resources. with £1 million of proposeed  savings, however Council spent  £60 million on children s services and were proposing £2 million on savings. Why are children being targeted.

RC: They are not, Policy and Resources is a bucket for all costs that don't fit other budgets easily. Huge savings made there already. 

Then it was my turn,  what are Barnet doing to address the funding crises being faced by local schools? Especially when the Education chair is not prepared to lobby the Secretary of State

RC we have not given up on changing the governments mind. We believe that it is better to do this quietly behind the scenes. 

A Burnt Oak resident stated that there are serious issues with Menorah school in Abbotts Road and  parents parking inconsiderately. 

The local Police were present and agreed to address with school

Jon Klaff, a local cycling activists asked a series of questions about cycling policy.   60 % of Barnet journeys by car. What is being done to promote other modes of transport.

RC. It is difficult to address the "Mr Toad" views of many Barnet drivers (who could he have been referring to?), action needed to be taken, but it is hard to re-engineer already busy roads. I suggested that maybe a dedicated cycle way between Mill Hill and Edgware on the disused rail line may be a start. RC stated that he'd prefer to see the railway rebuilt.

Mr Klaff also asked about the number of charging points for electric cars. He mentioned that the council only had plans for 100 and asked if this was suitable.

RC was adamant that the council is putting in more than 100 car charging points (highlighting the ones in lampposts). This rather contradicted his statement that he didn’t know where the AQPS was (“It’s progressing”). Indeed he felt more upset at the Mayor’s attack on Barnet (in the London Air Quality Plan) than Barnet’s efforts. (NB: The AQPS states 100 charging points over next three years, a cut and paste from the previous AQPS)

A worried resident asked Would less well off parents have to contribute to upkeep and maintenance of schools?

RC  replied No, funds come from central govt.

Another resident raised the issue of Pavements, which are disgusting in certain areas. Raised with councillors, nothing done. Hale ward.

RC. Stated that he'd investigate and get something done about it.

A lady from Colindale Foodbank reported  Addressing safeguarding is difficult. There are Serious issues in getting support. 

RC. "Email me privately. There are dedicated teams and we need to sort issues out if it isn't working"

A resident, concerned with the issues at Apex Corner asked "TFL responsible for major roads, can council influence them. "

RC. Yes, TFL have to consult the council.  He also admitted to not knowing where TFL and Barnet were with Mill Hill Circus. Although he felt it could be stopped.
The foodbank lady reported that "Increasing number of homeless people and  people taking drugs near fishmonger in Burnt oak. Can this be addressed as people do not feel safe"

Police.  "We have Operation Tungsten to deal with Burnt Oak issue. We have dispersal orders available, we go into area and deal with issues. Safeguarding issues top priority"

RC: Barnet have instituted a Borough wide street drinking ban.

The lady from the West Hendon campaign asked Can we have a nice hall like Hartley Hall?

RC: We will try, I'll will come back on that.

She then asked about the Compulsory purchase orders and how the price had been low.
Regarding CPO valuations on maisonettes. Initially £130k up to £220k. Are there examples of such increases? She was concerned by the role of Capita.

RC "I am pleased higher values were reached when it was revisited" 
RC  "I can't justify what happened".

She then asked about the inherent unfairness of the council tax system, where poorest residents pay proportionally far more than people in mansions. She noted that it is far quicker to empty bins in blocks of flats than in mansions. 
RC: I am happy to be able to double charge council tax on empty properties

Richard Logue asked about the fairness of  issues around the adoption of Millbrook Park. Residents pay twice for the same services, in a service charge and council tax. 

RC. Doesn't seem fair.

There was a question about pollution due to congested roads

RC, shame not in low emissions zone.

A resident was concerned about the use of dangerous pesticides on pavements. Noted other councils use steam. 

RC: The EU has changed its stance on this, but if you have details of better systems let me know.

I got in the last question. RC said "Have you been waiting to set this trap. I said no and asked for him to brief the audience on the West London Orbital Railway.

RC stated that he was enthusiastic and the council had put money in. He said that when he'd addressed the West London Partnership, he'd been cheered to the rafters by Momentum for his support! He explained how it is a no brainer to use under used rail lines for passenger services. He also said that he'd love to see the service extended to Mill Hill. The line runs from Cricklewood to Old Oak Common. I suspect that Richard is a bit of trainspotter on the quiet as he really seems genuinely excited by the plan. He said that he was extremely pleased that the scheme had cross party support and that the Deputy Mayor had adopted it.

---- (report Courtesy of The Barnet Eye)

Finally, here is our round up of events etc this week

Seems like our award winning local Rugby team is doing it both on and off the field.

We also had a film crew on the Broadway this week!

Congratulations to Mill Hill's oldest Cricket Club!

That's all folks. Our next newsletter will be in the new year, unless there is a mega breaking news story in Mill Hill! We wish you all a very merry Xmas. 


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Time for Mill Hill to come together