Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Gospel Oak Nov'12

Budget and council tax
The council will make a decision on council tax in January.  We are 2/3 the way through the first round of cuts.  So far our programme has balanced the budget until 2014.  This has meant that we have been able to reassure residents so far that there are no more cuts planned until 2014 unless the government cuts more.  Indications are that the government plans to re-open funding for the council (we are 70% reliant on funding from central government), so we expect more cuts to be planned - this may mean we re-open the budget for more front line cuts. 

Camden 3rd Living Wage employer in London
We’ll be writing to our suppliers this week and, probably in the new year now, starting a campaign to get the wider business community to adopt the rate where possible.

Recycling changes and wheelie bins
In April 2012 the Cabinet agreed a recommendation to use wheelie bins for recycling and to change the current recycling service to a mixed recycling service. This means that residents who present their paper and card separately will no longer need to do this, and wheelie bins will provide additional capacity for recyclables and reduce spillages and container loss.  Residents will not be forced to have wheelie bins.

Earlier in the year we undertook a wheelie bin audit for properties north of the Euston Road earlier through a company called LRS. This is the same organisation that assessed and assisted on the introduction of recycling wheelie bins in Southwark and more recently Haringey. LRS’s study identified approximately 20,000 Camden properties as able to accommodate wheelie bins and as a result we have been contacting residents at those addresses about bin options and general recycling information.


Questionnaires were sent to these residents week commencing 8 October 2012 - the response deadline has been extended to 23 November 2012.

Feedback about the proposed recycling service changes has also been sought from community groups, conservation bodies and other organisations. Officers have offered to attend their meetings to provide more details about the service. I have attached a list of these groups for your information.

A number of road shows have been organised with details on the website and we will be adding new ones once venues have been confirmed.  See link below for this and the updated FAQs. 

https://consultations.wearecamden.org/communications-strategy-improvement/recyclingchanges/consult_view

Finally, there is also an opportunity for people to see what happens to Camden’s mixed recycling after it is collected by visiting the Bywaters materials recycling facility, in Bromley by Bow. The first opportunity to visit will take place at 12.30 – 14.00 on 20th November (Tuesday).

To register interest in attending the visit or if you have any other queries please contact me on 020 7974 8998 or email Ann.Baker@Camden.gov.uk 

Welfare changes and impacts continue to worry
These continue to be very troubling.  We are seeing some households move from the borough already, and we anticipate a further pressure of about £2.5m on our homelessness budgets as a result of people not being able to pay their rent.  For more information please see our Benefit Changes page.       

Empty homes and Second Homes tax breaks removed
The council is taking steps to remove tax exemptions and discounts for long term empty homes and second homes.  Empty homes vacant for more than 2 years will be charged 150% council tax ad the Second Homes Discount (used by approx 3900 homes in Camden) of 10% off council tax will be removed.  We are looking at how money raised could be used, e.g. towards a local jobs fund or childcare help. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-19790896

20mph zone borough-wide
We are adopting a different approach to traffic calming with a planned borough-wide 20mph zone see this report from BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-19918183


Local Police Stations
There is significant uncertainty around the future of local police stations.  Ward councillors of all parties have been working together to secure local re-provision if the old Hampstead Police Station is sold.  There is also a longstanding debate about re-fitting Kentish Town Police station in the next few years.  

St. Dominic's School
Planning consultation is progressing on St.Dominic's School.  The Council has agreed to invest in excess of £2m in school improvements - the largest of any investment in primary schools in Camden.   

Community Investment Programme 
Gospel Oak will substantially benefit from self-financed investment in council homes and public services in the comming years.  Progress on regeneration and the Community Investment Programme in Gospel Oak can be viewed through this link

Co-op Bank deal to help 1st time buyers

Dunboyne Housing Walkabout
Attended a walkabout with tenants and leaseholders and raised several issues about speed of works and maintenance issues.  Matters are being followed up between the Department and the TRA. 

Belsize Community Library
Progress on making Belsize library a community library is being delayed by legal issues concerning the transfer by the Church Commissioners, we hope to resolve this shortly and develop the library as a 'community-run' library like the successful Primrose Hill and Keats Grove models.  

Belsize Fire Station
London Assembly member Andrew Dismore MP has championed the cause of the Belsize Fire Station, at risk of closure (it is not on the 'safe stations' list) due to cuts at a London level.  We have written to the Mayor outlining our concerns:  


"My main concern is the risk of closure to Camden’s Belsize fire station, which currently serves many of our residential communities in the centre of the borough.  I am also interested to know what thinking and planning has taken place around the impact that any closure may have on the other fire stations in the borough and those in neighbouring local authorities.  It is also very noticeable that all of the current fire stations in Camden are excluded from the official list of ‘safe stations’.  I would welcome your thoughts on this at your earliest opportunity.  As you will be aware Camden Council has a long and successful tradition of tackling issues around Community Safety.  The London Fire Brigade play a key role in this and reducing capacity of their buildings estate in the borough will reduce their ability to engage in such partnership work going forward.  This is especially pertinent given the time of year and work we are undertaking currently in regards to issues around fireworks.  Given the above I would urge you to reconsider any plans that may have already been drawn up in regards to Belsize Fire Station.  I would also like to ask for clarity around the position in relation to the other fire stations in the borough.  Finally it would be very helpful to know how you intend to engage with local communities and local authorities around any proposals for change and if no plans are in place to this end I would urge you to formulate some.  The current position of rumour and counter rumour does very little to help the situation and creates understandable concerns for local people."   

Cleaning of Savernake Road footbridge
This is complicated.  It is the responsibility of LB Camden to sweep the ramp (from Savernake Road) and the steps leading to the bridge on Mondays by 1.30pm and to wash the same area on Mondays and Thursdays between 11.00am – 12.00pm.  City of London have confirmed that they are responsible for the cleaning of the walkway to the footbridge and steps on the Hampstead Heath side of the bridge.  It is possible that the maintenance of the middle section of the footbridge falls under the responsibility of Network Rail. I have contacted Network Rail requesting confirmation and I will update you with my findings on receipt of this confirmation.

Discussions with City of London on Flood risk to Gospel Oak
There are two forms of flood risk that are connected to Hampstead Heath. The first one involves the flood risk should the Hampstead Heath Ponds burst their banks or overtop. This is a highly unlikely event, the dams are meant to be secure for up to a 1 in 10,000 year flood event, but if it were to happen the effects would be catastrophic. The second involves a major rainfall event of the type seen in parts of the country this year causing surface water to run off Parliament Hill and into houses in Gospel Oak. This is relatively more likely with a 1 in 75 year event causing some houses to be flooded but there should be no risk to human life. To give you some context no rain event in London this year has been more than 1 in 5.

City of London are responsible for managing the risk from the Hampstead Heath Ponds and Camden are responsible for managing the surface water flood risk. City of London have recently realised that they are potentially in breach of their responsibilities as an reservoir undertaker and begun to look at taking steps to reduce the flood risk. At the same time, earlier this year Camden have identified Gospel Oak as at risk from surface water flooding due to work done in its new role as a Lead Local Flood Authority with responsibility for surface water flooding.

Although these two forms of flood risk are separate with different causes, discussions were had early on to see if joint solutions could be possible. While it does not seem that this is possible, City and Camden have kept in contact and, now that both organisations have contracted consultants to design flood mitigation schemes, a meeting has been arranged for early November of both council officers and consultants to identify where the two projects can assist each other.

For any further information on flood risk from Hampstead Heath, please contact the council’s Corporate Sustainability Team on 020 7974 7180.

Improving of recycling facilities on the Heath
Earlier this year discussions took place between Jonathan Meares (Highgate Wood and Conservation Manager – City of London) and LB Camden Environment Services to see if Camden could advise on a good waste collection system and to share facilities.  The issues discussed included:
- introducing recycling bins and possible costs savings as a result of doing so.
- logistics of collection - potential to use electric carts, bio methane fuelled vehicles.
- possibility for extending Veolia recycling contract to the entrance of the Heath with waste carts carrying waste to the entrance.
- pilot a better waste collection system so that dog mess does not contaminate ordinary waste allowing other waste to be recycled.
- allowing some community input beyond that of the Heath Management Committee.
- allowing membership of the Heath Management Committee to ensure a sustainability representative sits on the committee.

I will chase progress in these matters.

Parking in Belsize Zone
There are no specific plans for changes to parking controls in Belsize Park in the near future.  However, officers advise that the results from the summer 2012 consultation on the borough’s controlled parking zones (CPZs) did show that there may be some interest for potential changes in the Belsize zone (CA-B).  It is proposed therefore to hold a postal and online consultation on specific proposals for this zone (and others) in the New Year, to see whether there is any appetite for changes to be implemented.  This consultation will be made available to all addresses in the CA-B, Belsize zone and will also ask for views in relation to the proposals to convert resident parking bays to permit holder bays, which were made as part of the Parking Policy Review (more information available on the following link).  




We will also hold a workshop to provide local resident and tenants groups an opportunity to give their views on the potential proposals prior to the postal consultation. 

The meeting for CA-B Belsize will be held at Fleet Community Centre on Thursday 15th November at 7.30pm.  Please note this is not a public meeting and is only available to local resident and tenant associations (and other interested organisations). 


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