Newsletter - October 2022
Editor : Melvyn Sears
Ravenscroft Park (a previous Autumn)
In this issue:
- New 20 MPH zones
- Gaming centre awaits decision
- The Spires commits to High Barnet
- Local policing
- Litter pick on 22nd October
- Cleaner air
- What the politicians had to say
New 20 MPH zones to enhance local streets
The Council has introduced a 20MPH zone in the streets enclosed by Clifford, Woodville and Latimer roads in New Barnet, in response to concerns expressed over many years by local residents infuriated by those who ignore the 30MPH speed limit and impair life in their streets. The issue of traffic diverted through local roads by ‘pinch points’ in our road network is addressed below; other roads where residents have complained for years about excessive speed include Mays Lane and Barnet Lane (passing Totteridge Academy). These latter stretches of road are already subject to 20MPH speed limits but lack rigorous enforcement measures.
The New Barnet scheme is a trial, with the results influencing what enforcement measures are taken. Many would argue that asking drivers to curb their (illegal) speeds to improve the quality of life of large numbers of residents was not a lot to ask, but no doubt this policy will nevertheless attract a good deal of protest.
Gaming outlet—the Ayes 6, the Noes 756
The elegant façade of this listed building is not suitable for a gaming centre
Public concerns erupted in June after Merkur Slots applied for planning permission (planning reference number 22/3158/FUL) for change of use of the ground floor of 118 High Street to one which permitted the opening of an ‘adult gaming centre’. Such outlets are stocked with brightly-coloured fruit machines which can offer winnings of up to £500 for as little as £2.00.
A previous effort
Planning permission for such an outlet was sought by Agora in 2008, to fill the space left by Mothercare. This was turned down locally after huge opposition. Agora tried to open a coffee shop in the same premises. Smelling the rat was not difficult, and permission was again denied. And that was that.
Merkur’s outlet in North Finchley contains more than 50 machines in semi-darkness illuminated only by the garish flashing lights of the ’one armed bandits’!
A distinguished past
The building has a long history, having been the location for many years of the Barnet Press since its founding by the Cowing Family in 1859. More recently, it was the location of the Trustee Savings Bank until January 2021. The elegant frontage would not be enhanced by a shop front resembling that of the Merkur Slots outlet in North Finchley.
When the initial period for objections expired, 18th July, 678 comments had been registered; 666 were objections. These covered a huge range of reasons for objection, mostly about protecting the vulnerable from the possible consequences of gambling (which strictly speaking are not issues for planners to consider).
The front window is obscured, adding to the sense of mystery for those outside
Our objection had several strands, including the proximity to schools, the number of local gambling outlets, and the potential disturbance to residents, with many High St shops having flats on the upper floors. We also pointed out that the change of use would remove, contrary to Barnet’s Local Plan, an outlet approved for Class E use (retail and personal services) where there were no alternative vacant spots currently available.
Opposition emerged again after Merkur Slots submitted a management plan describing their ‘good neighbour policy’. The accompanying Health Impact Assessment referred to the premises operating on a 24-hour basis, a fact which provided an additional cause for discontent.
The Council re-opened the Planning consultation on 1st September, and the number of objections rose. We now await the deliberations of the Planning Committee.
The Spires owners commit to High Barnet
We were delighted to be able to break the news that BYM Capital, the owners of the Spires had purchased the site of the old Barnet market. This site, which, until Covid hit was set to be a Premier Inn, has been awaiting a new owner, and we are pleased if this city-centre site can be brought into good use. It was also good to hear the positive approach that BYM Capital is taking towards the Spires, stating their commitment that ’the Spires Shopping Centre remains at the heart of the town’. Our own sentiments entirely.
BYM also stated that they had identified a new operator for the car park (hooray to that) and that a relaunch of the car park would be coming soon.
In welcoming the joint ownership of the Spires and the market site, we are aware of the possibility that the enlarged site may become subject to joint development. In this regard, a fear always has to be that small towns such as ours risk being overshadowed by large new developments. This was something that led the New Barnet Residents Association to oppose the Fairview ’Victoria Quarter’ of 539 flats in blocks of up to 7 storeys with such determination. Fortunately for them and perhaps for us, the Inspector agreed; whilst recognizing the need for higher density developments in London, he did not believe this meant a disregard for the wider context. He believed that the scheme inserted an alien typology into the suburban character of New Barnet. Surely similar arguments apply here, the more so given our Conservation Areas.
Trench warfare draws to a close (for now?)
Biffa could not reach their bins because of the roadworks
Throughout the summer, the High Street was the scene of major roadworks, as a new electricity supply to the Shanly Homes ’Lightfield’ development necessitated trenching work between Salisbury Road and Brakeshear Close.
This led to single carriageway operation controlled by temporary traffic lights. All seemed to be going wrong in August when the 66 day closure was extended by 7, then another 14 days. We brought our serious concerns to our MP and Councillors. Very rapidly, the traffic lights and trench disappeared. But not the scars, whose final repair is awaited.
Annual General Meeting 2022
Our AGM was held on 5th July at the Bull Theatre. We were missing two Committee members due to Covid.
Our AGM was held on 5th July. We were pleased to be able to welcome representatives of the new Labour Council who had been successful in the local elections held in London on 5th May. What they had to say to us can be found below.
Several changes to our Committee were announced. Most notable was the decision by Gordon Massey and Charles Wicksteed (see below) to step down from their previous roles, both after 17 years, albeit they will continue in advisory capacities. For the first time since 2005, our readers will have to cope without Gordon’s special sense of humour. He edited 50 issues of our Newsletter.
Meanwhile, Ken Rowland has stepped back from the role of Chair for personal reasons but fortunately remains to continue dealing with matters related to roads and transport. As well as almost single-handedly bringing about the introduction of CCTV on St Albans Road, and successfully promoting regular mechanical street cleaning in High Barnet, Ken has also introduced us to social media and we now feature on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, helping to bring us to our largest ever member count just short of 770.
Your new Editor has also taken the role of Chair.
New ward boundaries
May of this year was the first occasion on which electors in the London Borough of Barnet voted using the new ward boundaries. High Barnet, Underhill and Barnet Vale fall within the same parliamentary constituency, and are represented by the following number of local Councillors at Borough level, 3 seats in Barnet Vale, and 2 each in High Barnet and Underhill. Popular Councillor David Longstaff continues as a Conservative but now in Barnet Vale Ward, with the remaining seats represented by Labour.
The two Councillors Cllr. Emma Whysall and Cllr. Paul Edwards representing High Barnet attended our AGM, accompanied by Cllr. Barry Rawlings, Leader of the Council. See below.
BRA Survey Results July 2022
In July 2022, as we began to work with a new Council in Barnet, we wanted to know the issues that are most important to BRA members living and/or working in and around High Barnet. So we ran a survey in which members could rate eleven issues, selecting the five most important, and putting them in order from 1 to 5. Here are the results.
Crime and policing was the issue that came out in front for the 128 households who answered the survey, followed by cleaner air and cleaner streets.
We also invited respondents to tell us about other issues which were causing them concern. Way out in the lead by far was the loss of the 84 bus serving Potters Bar, the Savacentre and St Albans as the one that was causing most disquiet amongst those of our members who responded to the survey. Other issues mentioned by three or more respondents were the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone, fly tipping, speeding and the need for local public services such as schools and GP surgeries to grow in line with local population.
We apologise for the use of internet and social media language in the following paragraphs. These are the means by which the Met. chooses to communicate with the community, supplemented by the regular meetings of safer neighbourhood teams (SNT’s).
Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNT’s) in London were introduced by the Metropolitan Police back in 2004 as building blocks of the plan to increase the involvement of communities in policing (among other things). Each of the three electoral wards in the High Barnet area (High Barnet, Underhill and Barnet Vale) has a Safer Neighbour Team comprising 2 Police Constables and a PCSO (Police Community Support Officer); they are primarily responsible for the less serious crime issues such as anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and graffiti which are known to have a disproportionate effect on people’s feelings of safety and security in their homes and neighbourhoods. These safer neighbourhood teams hold regular ‘contact points’ at which those who live and/or work in the relevant ward can raise concerns or follow up queries with their local ‘bobbies’.
[In the web version of the newsletter, the email addresses have been removed to avoid attracting spam. If you would like any of the addresses, please contact the BRA webmaster. Ed]
Their contact details are:
|High Barnet||— https://twitter.com/MPSHighBarnet|
|Barnet Vale||— https://twitter.com/MPSBarnetVale|
We believe the Met needs to find ways to communicate the dates and whereabout of these SNT meetings that do not rely on Internet access. We will continue to raise this when the BRA representative attends the next meetings of the Community Action Panels (CAP’s).
Please note: 999 should be used for reporting of all emergencies, when someone is in danger or when a crime is in progress or just been committed.
Call 101 to report a non-emergency, or make an enquiry or respond to a request for information.
Each Ward also has a Ward/Community Action Panel chaired by a member of the public and bringing together members of the public and police representatives. These provide a key local accountability mechanism for the Met, conducting scrutiny of policing at local level. They comprise local community members and partner agencies and meet with SNT representatives at least every three months. They set local Ward priorities and hold the SNT to account. Members of the Panels are appointed in accordance with provisions laid down in the Ward Panel Community Members Handbook issued by the Mayor’s office.
The current Chairs for the three Wards are:-
|High Barnet:||Mr Mahender Khari|
|Underhill:||The Revd. Tristan Chapman|
|Barnet Vale:||To be appointed|
The Chairs may be contacted by those wishing to attend panel meetings. They should not be contacted on matters of policing; such questions should be brought to panel meetings.
Finding out about crime in your area
If you follow the link https://www.met.police.uk/a/your-area/ (or put these words into your Internet Browser) and insert your postcode, you will be taken to the following web page, which allows you to learn more about crime in your area. Unfortunately, Barnet Vale doesn’t yet show up for those living in that ward.
Cleaner streets—litter pick on 22nd October
Just a few of the bags collected in February
The litter pick we organised in February, our first venture of its kind, was keenly supported by members and others. Over thirty bags of litter were collected, and others taken home – a resounding achievement. We had very good support from the Council who supplied us with equipment and arranged to take the bags away.
In view of our members’ concern about ’cleaner streets’, we now plan a second 2022 litter picking exercise, and plan to co-ordinate at least two each year, to try and stay on top of miscellaneous litter in and around the town centre, and perhaps begin to change habits. Our next ‘litter event’ will take place on 22nd October. As well as seeking the contribution of our local political representatives, who worked extremely hard on our behalf in February, we hope to gain the support of other local groups.
Earlier this year, as well as Hadley Wood Residents, we put pressure on the Council via Cllr. David Longstaff to renew the old and decrepit bins on Hadley Green. These covered bins (to help keep out untidy birds) appeared! Well done Barnet Council.
Issues along the High Street
I wonder how many readers recall the falling glass from one of the windows above Santander’s cash machine. Having seen evidence of fallen glass from windows above Oxfam and Western Union, we asked the staff to press their landlord to take action. Within a couple of weeks, the dicey window frames had been sorted, and the windows boarded up.
We identified several ‘dropped kerbs‘ along the High Street that are no longer required (one is pictured here). We have contacted the Council and asked if they could be removed to free up spots for additional parking.
Cleaner air—addressing traffic ‘pinch points’
As the number of cars arriving in and/or traversing High Barnet and its surrounds has increased in recent years, serious congestion at certain junctions drives traffic onto side streets, bringing danger and pollution to our suburban roads.
We are highlighting the most serious such junctions around High Barnet, and proposing solutions. We fear the air pollution measures at some of these spots.
From the congestion on Underhill to the width restriction at the Co-Op, the traffic jams on Mays Lane need sorting
Queuing on Stapylton back from St Albans Road. The St Albans Rd junction is too narrow for cars to exit both left and right, causing major tailbacks.
We have to find a better way of managing buses, cars and pedestrians at Barnet Church.
Exciting ‘pop-up shop’ at 98 High street
The Chipping Work Shop has opened at 98 High St, moving in while the space was vacant between tenants, in a project recommended in the Community Plan.
It combines a bar managed by Urban Alchemy our local brewer for four periods a week, a food yard offering West Indian and other food, hot desking, retail and workshop space. It is an ideal spot on the High St. for new businesses to try out new opportunities. It will be there until March 2023. Do drop in to see it in operation.
Councillors address Annual General Meeting
The new Labour Councillors for High Barnet, Cllr. Paul Edwards and Cllr. Emma Whysall addressed the 2022 Annual General Meeting, accompanied by Cllr. Barry Rawlings, the new Leader of the Council.
The underlying message from Cllr. Rawlings was about working together with local people to find local answers to local problems; as he said, ‘often, you can solve problems quite easily if you are prepared to talk to people rather than solve the problem behind a desk on a computer in Colindale by looking at maps’. ‘So that is one trend I hope you will see, more Council Officers on your streets’.
A number of new policies for the new Council were described.
- Increasing the investment into CCTV by £2m pa to try and help people feel safer;
- Naming community safety officers who people could approach for help and advice on things such as anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping, ‘eco-crimes’, and graffiti. They would have the power to issue on-the-spot fines to wrongdoers;
- Bringing Estates and Planning ‘in-house’;
- A policy on building height and density so that building is within the context of an area;
- Reducing the number of Committees thereby removing some of the payments to Vice-chairs to reduce costs by £460,000 over 4 years;
- Developing an Arts and Culture policy;
- Letting residents know when their road is to be re-surfaced, and increasing the budget for repairing potholes and pavements by £1m;
- Restoring the food waste collections;
- ‘Deep cleaning’ streets four times a year rather than twice.
- Next year, working out what the Council Tax should be and taking off 1 per cent and giving that back to residents ‘because we will all be having difficult times.’
In addition, Cllr. Rawlings spoke of a number of aspirations.
- Improving community behaviour where littering is concerned;
- Tracking roadworks to ensure they were done properly;
- Looking again at bus routes to see how the 84 bus could be re-instated
The Council's has decided to run a pilot scheme to provide occasional community skips using the experience from the previous service approximately ten years ago.
The proposed option is for a free domestic service where skips and a caged tipper vehicle are deployed to pre-determined locations throughout the borough, providing an opportunity for residents to dispose of bulky waste items.
The service would operate once per quarter.
Gordon and Charles take new roles in Association
Gordon has worked tirelessly since 2005 promoting the interests of the Association and its members, periodically as Chair, as leader in Planning matters and throughout as editor of the Newsletter (he edited exactly 50). He has been a thorn in the side of developers who have ignored planning laws and has managed to prevent building developments that would have been detrimental to our town and its High Street. He fought against considerable opposition for the pavement widening on the High Street which we believe has contributed to the thriving High Street. Fortunately, Gordon will continue as an adviser to the Committee and will play a leading role, assisted by his wife Helen, in helping the Association respond to major projects.
Charles Wicksteed has also been with us since 2005. He brought his very considerable expertise in IT matters to set up our website, which went live in the summer of 2007. Ever since then, he has maintained and enriched it, working brilliantly in the background while also providing willing support to those of us with few skills in matters digital. Always keen to help!
Contacting Committee members
Our committee members have the responsibilities listed below. For contact details, see our Contact and Officers page. We do not publish personal email addresses — if you wish to contact someone not on that page, send an email to the webmaster who will forward it.
|Jeice Tan||Membership Secretary|
|Janet Littlewood||Conservation and Planning Officer|
|Simon Green||Cttee Member (Policing, Retail advisor)|
|Wendy Marler||Cttee Member (Litter)|
|Ken Rowland||Cttee Member (Roads and Transport)|
|Tim Sims||Cttee Member—Issues facing older members|
[The paper copy of the newsletter has councillors' contact details at this point. For the online version, we refer you to the Barnet Council web site]
In recent years, as both public and private enterprises have introduced electronic communications to their customer interface, those who have no grasp of email, the Internet or social media have been progressively disregarded and isolated. Indeed, we must apologise for the frequent use of email addresses, web addresses (URL’s) and Twitter in this publication. But please don’t despair. We know our ‘hard copy’ publication is key to our success and it will continue as our prime means of communicating with our members.
The Committee would like to thank:
Dr Bob Burstow and
Mr Mahender Khari
for their contributions to this publication
Projects being readied to seek planning permission
Intec House, Moxon Street
The demolition of 49 Moxon Street is planned, installing in its place a part 3-storey, part 7-storey (incl. basement) building with some commercial space on the ground floor but otherwise providing 92 residential 1, 2 and 3 bedroomed apartments. There would be 34 car spaces for residential occupants, and 2 for commercial occupants. The BRA has had two meetings with the developers, and has sought answers in a number of areas, in particular the height of the development and proximity of the building to South Close. Details of a formal planning application no. 22/4526 were released as we went to press.
Barnet Elizabethans Rugby Club
In August, the rugby club aired their plans for the future with their members, local residents and other interested parties. The plan is to renew and replace the existing clubhouse and playing pitches at Byng Road, allowing the provision of modern facilities to Rugby Union standard. A dedicated website at www.berfcproposals.co.uk has also been launched describing the project and allowing people to leave feedback.