Entries by Mark Stonebanks

Council tax is going up by 4.99% and here’s why

Last night Camden accepted the recommendation that council tax bills will rise, a decision that will be ratified at full Council on the 26th. For the second year running, it will rise by 4.99%, an increase comprised of a 1.99% council-tax increase and an ‘Adult Social Care’ precept of 3%’. Average Camden band D council tax […]

What have you missed since February 12th?

Kaboom! A house partially-collapsed on Sumatra Road. It had been empty for over 10 years and had been in some planning limbo. In a sign of quite how crazy property prices are it was labelled as being on ‘millionaire’s row’ by the Daily Mail. Ironically, it was just around the corner from the humble house […]

House collapses on Sumatra Road

At midday on a quiet Monday, Sumatra Road was shaken (literally) when the walls collapsed on a house undergoing renovation. At the time of the collapse, first tweeted by Chris Simpson, there were builders in the house, 163 Sumatra Road, but they saw ‘the writing on the wall’ when large cracks appeared and were able to […]

What have you missed since February 5th?

There are more details of the scammer we warned about last week, including her photo which has now been released by the police. She struck again on Walm Lane this weekend. The chemist by West End Green had eight tins of baby formula stolen this week – the suspect had stolen four tins the previous […]

An Insight with: Roma Agrawal

This month we spoke to Roma Agrawal, engineer and debut author (and West Hampstead resident). Roma spent six years working on the construction of the Shard. During that time she was asked to give presentations about the Shard, first to other engineers, to outside groups such as the Womens Institute, and then to schools. She […]

What have you missed since January 29th?

The application to build 82 retirement flats on the former Gondar Gardens reservoir site was refused by Camden Planning. The Mayor’s office also refused the application particularly over the lack of any affordable housing. There is a scammer about – watch out. She will claim to be a neighbour and ask for £20. (The story […]

Watch out! There’s a scammer about.

Watch out, there’s a scammer about (and below we have details of how to contact your local police about this and other security issues). The police have now issued a photo of the woman and more details about her. A resident of Achilles Road reported that he was woken up at 6 am on Sunday […]

Overground redevelopment (just about) on track

It’s been a year since the redevelopment of the Overground station started in earnest and it’s taking a while. Inevitable, as TfL chose (wisely) to keep the station open during the works, even though that also means higher cost. For those of us using the station, it’s been impossible to miss the arrival of the […]

What have you missed since January 22nd?

A gruesome lead story this week. A decapitated fox’s head was found in a West Hampstead garden on Friday morning. According to SNARL, an independent group helping the police with the notorious M25 cat killer, this looks like it could be a related incident. Pet owners, keep an eye on your cats. Tom went to […]

Camden ‘criminalises’ West Hampstead dog owners

There have been rumours that Camden was changing the rules on taking dogs into the cemetery, a popular walking spot for local dog-owners, but there had been nothing concrete. So WHL thought it would ‘doggedly’ investigate the issue. It appears that a change was indeed added to a piece of legislation introduced last February – […]

What have you missed since Jan 15th?

One of Kilburn’s nicer bars, Kilburn Ironworks, which opened in 2014, is closing in early February. On Twitter, the owners have hinted that they might have another local operation starting soon…. … West Hampstead institution Lately is shutting up shop. The nightclub has been a fixture of West End Lane for as long as most […]

What have you missed since January 8th?

West Hampstead tube station is still not on the shortlist to get a lift. The student housing block on Blackburn Road has applied to add 41 extra rooms – which means a new storey, or two. We got the full story… The new restaurant replacing Brioche is going to be Hām. Like the Wet Fish […]

What have you missed since December 28th?

Welcome back! Hope you had a good holiday break. What has been happening in West Hampstead at the start of 2018? On New Year’s day, it was 56 Years since the Beatles came to Decca’s West Hampstead studio (now ENO) to audition … and were turned down. Our historians investigated why. Part of the pavement […]

What have you missed in 2017?

Hope you are all having a peaceful and relaxing holiday. We’ll kick off with the news over the past ten days, and then we thought we’d do a quick “news review” of the year. A local carol singer raised over £100,000 over the past 40 years. Hallelujah! A new restaurant is recruiting already. Could ‘HAM’ […]

West Hampstead Christmas survival guide

Christmas day is nearly upon us, so just in the (St) Nick of time, here are a few helpful tips to make everything go smoothly. When are the local church services? At Emmanuel Church things kick off with carols on West End Green at 4pm on Saturday 23rd, followed by mulled wine in the Church. […]

A walk up West End Lane

Following our recent walk down the Kilburn High Road, we took a similar walk up West End Lane. Joining us was John Saynor, chair of WHAT (West Hampstead Amenity and Transport), which takes a keen interest in these matters too. We didn’t really focus on the litter situation, because – dare I say it – […]

Hallelujah! Local carol singer raises £100,000 over 40 years

One of the best things about Christmas is the carol singing. It get’s you into the spirit of Christmas and those singing are raising money for good causes, a reminder of the true spirit of Christmas. Every Christmas since 1977, West Hampstead resident Tessa Henderson has been organising her friends to go carol singing. They […]

What have you missed since December 11th?

Things are gearing up for Christmas so we checked out some of our local stores for some present ideas. There was a house fire on Inglewood Road. Thankfully no-one was hurt. Unfortunately, after a lull, there was another moped phone theft on West End Lane. In another theft (or it may have been the same […]

What have you missed since December 4th?

It snowed! You can always rely on the Wet Fish for an appropriate tweet. We took a closer look at the redevelopment of Gondar Gardens into luxury retirement flats (including indoor swimming pool and chauffeur-driven cars) but ‘can’t afford’ any affordable housing. S-e-r-i-o-u-s-l-y? Time for another Insight in West Hampstead; this time we popped into […]

Luxury retirement development ‘can’t afford’ to pay for affordable housing

West Hampstead is facing yet another large-scale property development. It’s the third proposal to redevelop the site at the former Gondar Gardens reservoir. The history of the previous proposals have been well documented on these pages, but what really caught our eye about this one was that it offers no affordable housing either on-site or as […]

Twelve things to do in West Hampstead in December

There’s always a (snow) flurry of things to do in December, the challenge is fitting them all in between the socialising and recovering from socialising that seems to define the final few weeks of the year. On Saturday 9th, from 7.30-9.30 pm is the Hampstead Chorus Autumn concert with Gabriel Faure’s Requiem, Francis Poulenc’s Gloria […]

An Insight into: Mill Lane Barbers

Among the ebb and flow of businesses on Mill Lane there are a couple of constants; Mill Lane Barbers is one of them. To get the view from the barber’s chair, WHL popped in to as Prod, the owner, was preparing for the day. Prod’s family is Greek-Cypriot by origin, although he was born and […]

What have you missed since November 27th?

Tulip entered into a bit of a spat with Channel Four news; they questioned her at the recent Nazanin rally on West End Green about a Bangladeshi QC who has disappeared. She got flustered and made what she later said was an “ill-judged” comment to a producer, although still reported the episode to the police; […]

Where to buy a Christmas tree in West Hampstead

Thinking about buying your Christmas tree? Don’t know where in West Hampstead? Let us help you. First of all, what variety? The traditional tree was the Norway Spruce, it has a nice scent but drops its prickly needles quite quickly. Over the past few years, this has been superceded by non-drop varieties, such as the […]

What have you missed since November 20th?

West Hampstead was all over the news this weekend due to a rally for Nazanin on West End Green and Mum’s march to the Islamic Centre in Maida Vale. There is a new Christmas tree seller in town, Pines and Needles, and they are not popular. Locals are worried about the impact on the Mill […]

What have you missed since November 13th?

A new farmer’s market opened up in the O2 carpark. It was a soft opening this week, but some nice stalls and the weather was good. Sticking to the food theme, Deliveroo opened up a new kitchen in the area, more delivery choices, but at what cost? There will be a mum’s march, supported by […]

New Sunday food market in O2 car park

At 10am this Sunday, West Hampstead welcomes a new food market. The imaginatively named 255 Finchley Road Market is in the O2 car park (some old hands may remember when the Swiss Cottage farmers market was there on Wednesdays, before our own Saturday market had started). Land Securities, owners of the O2, approached the Food Commission, which […]

What have you missed since November 6th?

Moped snatches of mobile phones continue to be a problem. One poor woman had her phone snatched outside Wickes on West End Lane. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ongoing imprisonment in Tehran hit the headlines this week. In a gaffe, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said she was ‘training journalists’, which was seized on by the Iranian authorities as […]

What have you missed since 30th October?

The police say things are improving on phone snatches, (‘down by a quarter in the last three months’) and they recovered these two mopeds (along with drugs). They also thwarted this attempted phone snatch and caught this robbery suspect . But… there have been a few more phone snatches this week – including from the partner of former […]

Twelve things to do in West Hampstead in November

So what’s happening in West Hampstead this month? Lots of course! Starting at the more serious end of things on Friday 10th (not the 11th) it is the Armistice Day service at the war memorial in the Cemetery. Fancy a film? it is the Jewish Film festival coming up from the 9th – 26th. Quite […]

Rubbish problems improving, but there’s still a long way to go

Raindrops on snowdrops and warm swollen mittens, etc. etc. may have been some of Julie Andrews favourite things but rubbish and recycling, street litter and fly-tipping are some of West Hampstead’s least favourite. When the Neighbourhood Development Forum was drawing up its plans a few years ago, the issue of rubbish generally came up as […]

What have you missed since October 23rd?

A local resident was scammed at Barclay’s cashpoint. Don’t let it happen to you. Phone thefts are still an issue and the West Hampstead SNT was handing out this advice. A woman’s body was found by Menelik Road. Her death was not being treated as suspicious WHAT held its public meeting on rubbish and recycling. […]

Labour leader visits West Hampstead

Cllr Georgia Gould, the relatively new leader of Camden Council, was out and about in West Hampstead this week. She’s visiting each ward across the borough specifically to meet the groups that make Camden tick. She was in our ‘hood with Cllr Phil Rosenberg visiting the Sherriff Centre, which impressed her. “It’s unbelievable. I’ve never […]

What have you missed since October 16th?

It’s WHL’s 300th newsletter! Wow. Being a smart lot, you’ll realise that’s more or less six years of reporting on the local news. We now reach more than 2,500 of you and it’s gratifying that we keep hearing how much people appreciate the newsletter. Before we start with this week’s news here is our very […]

Police “taken by surprise” by explosion in phone thefts

There was a good turnout at last night’s public meeting on moped-crime. It’s a hot topic that didn’t need any extra emphasis, but even as the meeting was taking place another moped-based phone snatch was happening taking place outside Finchley Road tube station. The first speaker, Judy Thomson, is a public safety officer from Camden, […]

Crime tops the agenda at upcoming public meeting

This Thursday, local councillors will host an Area Forum (aka: public meeting) at the Synagogue Hall in Dennington Park Road. Crime is top of the agenda. The meeting starts at 19:00 with the main business from 19:30. Last night two suspects were arrested in Broomsleigh Street following a moped-related stabbing that had taken place earlier […]

What have you missed since October 9th?

There has been a further spate of mobile phone snatches; by West End Green, on Westbere Road and an attempted one on West End Lane. There will be an area action forum this Thursday in the Synagogue Hall to discuss the this issue. Do come. There’s a brand new chocolate shop on Broadhurst Gardens. But […]

What have you missed since October 2nd?

A former lettings agent was sentenced to 30 months for theft from several properties including some in West Hampstead. He continue to posed as one to borrow keys from other firms. The spate of mobile phones and bags snatching continues in the area. There will be an area forum on the 19th focusing on this […]

Un ‘Insight’ avec Hélène Clément

West Hampstead has a quite long literary pedigree – which continues to this day, with three local book launches in September alone. This month sees the launch of another one, but not in English and not at West End Lane Books. Mais non! This book is called “Le Plus Beau Reste á Venir” (Ed = The Best Is Yet […]

What have you missed since September 25th?

As part of National Poetry Day on Thursday, local poet Ted Booth wrote a poem about freedom dedicated to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. The West Hampstead mum was denied parole from her Iranian jail this week. Her husband Richard read the poem outside the Iranian embassy and 1,000 copies were given out in West Hampstead. Tom’s been […]

It’s National Poetry Day!

Today is National Poetry Day and the theme this year is freedom. Ted Booth, the just-stepping-down writer in residence at the library has written the following poem to bring some poetry to our West Hampstead lives. You may be lucky enough to be handed a copy as you cross Fortune Green or pass the library […]

What you missed since September 18th?

We had a feeling that crime was on the rise as we recently reported… a few days later local Councillor Lorna Russell was burgled. This week, more evidence that crime about that rise. Last Wednesday, at the Sherriff Road post Office there was an armed robbery. On Mill Lane two men on a moped attempted […]

What have you missed since September 11th?

Labour selected its three candidates for Fortune Green ward.  Welcome back (and congratulations) to Lorna Russell and Richard Olszewski and welcome to new candidate Sorin Floti The selection for West Hampstead, however, wasn’t quite so smooth. And – people of West Hampstead – we can’t recommend highly enough Richard Osley’s political coverage of our area in […]

‘The Art of Failing’, the West Hampstead way

Local author Tony McGowan’s new book ‘The Art of Failing‘ is described by the publisher as ‘A laugh-out-loud chronicle of one man’s daily failures and disappointments, set in West Hampstead‘. He has a book reading coming up at West End Lane Books on Thursday this week, so we popped by for a cup of herbal tea […]

Getting down and dirty on Kilburn High Road

Amid all the grumbling about filth on West End Lane, it’s always worth casting an eye elsewhere to see whether we can learn from others. Or to put our own woes into perspective. Recently, there have been some despairing tweets about the clutter, litter and, general grime on Kilburn High Road (this includes responses from […]

What have you missed since Sept 4th?

Sad news from the Kilburn High Road. The Good Ship, the popular music and comedy venue, is closing at the end of October. It’s been a victim of changes to licensing hours, which we reported on earlier. Kingsgate Primary School – Lower School opened this week. It is supposed to have a traffic management plan […]

Things to do in West Hampstead on Sunday 17th September!

Our top ten things to do lists are proving popular but new things are coming in all the time.  In fact there is so much happening in and around West Hampstead next weekend we felt it was worth a mini-article of it’s own! If it is architecture you are after it is Open House weekend. Your chance […]

What have you missed since August 28th?

‘How Not To Be A Boy’ was published. Author and West Hampstead resident Robert Webb was out promoting it on R4 in Woman’s Hour and Channel 4 news this week, it was also R4’s book of the week (see below). You can pick up a signed copy at our friends @WELBooks (while stocks last). It […]

What have you missed since August 21st?

It was a bank holiday weekend so printing presses took at break, so this is being posted a day late. Now on with the news. A guy had his mobile snatched outside the Thameslink Station. And a woman had a substance thrown in her face in Kilburn (thankfully it turned out to be ‘only’ boiling […]

Top Ten Things to do in West Hampstead in September

How many of our top tips for August did you manage?  Highlight was Random International and Wayne McGregor at the Roundhouse.  Coming up this month… 0. (Starting with an August event, this week on the 31st it’s Jazz @ the Kingsgate Centre) 1. It snuck in at number 11 in the things to do in August, as it […]

What have you missed since August 14th?

Incident on Saturday when an elderly lady fell from her flat onto the balcony below. She suffered a broken leg; ambulance and police in attendance. Another incident on Sunday with 10+ police cars on the Finchley Road,  not clear what was the cause. A teenager has been accused of killing Yasir Beshira on December last […]

Crime on the rise in West Hampstead

Is crime in West Hampstead on the rise, or are we just made more aware of it through social media? And through the rare but higher-profile crimes such as moped-based thefts or the recent acid attack. WHL met up with Sergeant Mark Townsend to discuss. Certainly there is a sense that our relatively quiet part […]

What have you missed since Aug 7th?

Apparently, 42 of us are Lottery millionaires,  in our postcode area. Really National Lottery? Our latest insight was with Ted Booth, the Library ‘writer in residence’. Ted brings poetry to West Hampstead, literally (in all senses). There was a funeral on Quex Road for the leader of the former leader of the GMB, Mary Turner. Jeremy […]

An Insight into: Ted Booth

Who is Ted Booth you are asking?  This month’s Insight is a bit different. Instead of interviewing a local business owner, WHL sat down to have a chat with Ted Booth, who is the current writer-in-residence for the Friends of West Hampstead Library. Ted’s a very cool guy but wouldn’t consider himself as such – he’s far too […]

What have you missed since July 31st?

We are entering the summer doldrums, but no silly season here at WHL. There was an acid attack – in West Hampstead. We hope the victim is OK and the perpetrators are caught. Goodbye, Father Andrew. With much sadness West Hampstead is ‘rid of that turbulent priest’ (in the opinion of some, but not us). […]

What have you missed since July 24th?

Avoid the 4:26pm Bedford to Brighton and 5:08pm Sutton to St. Albans services, they are among the top ten most crowded trains in the country. The latter is designed for 391 passengers, but crams in 758 of us. Good news though they are four carriage trains, which are set to become eight or even twelve […]

New recycling regime continues to have ‘teething problems’

Back in April, we ran a story on problems with the new waste contract and identified a number of issues: fly-tipping, difficulties reaching the helpline, nappy collections and problems getting the new bins. Some of these have been resolved but by no means all. When the new scheme was introduced we were promised that there would […]

A grand old time at the Petite Corée?

Last week I was searching for somewhere to eat as we were going out with friends, venue to be decided. I delved into the stashed away pile of reviews and recommendations looking for somewhere suitable with interesting food, a nice atmosphere and not too expensive. Among the reviews I found a Sunday Times ‘cheap eats’ […]

What have you missed since July 17th?

A section of Finchley Road was closed after a suspicious package was reported. It turned out that it “wasn’t a viable device”. Does that mean it wasn’t suspicious, or that it was but was just not viable? New bakery Lola’s took some flak for having a disabled toilet that was up some stairs, but apparently […]

What have you missed since July 10th?

The Kitchen Table as we know it, bows out after 10 years. The rubbish situation continues to drive West Hampstead crazy. It’s nearly three months now and the local councillors, not just the Labour ones, say ‘it’s settling down’. Really? Yet…they did finally start taking some action on a particular black spot (this is what […]

What have you missed since July 3rd?

How many?? We crunched the numbers on entry/exit figures for West Hampstead’s three stations. Tbh even we were surprised. It was the Jester Festival last weekend, that much you know. But to get an unbiased view on it, we asked a newcomer to the area to pay a visit. There was a Whampdinner at Quartieri (the […]

What have you missed since June 26th?

The farmers’ market wants to extend the hours of operation from 4 to 82 hours a week. Too much, too soon? Georgia Gould, the newly elected leader of Camden Council, has continued to come under pressure over the Chalcots estate. There was a good analysis of the backstory from Richard Osley at the CNJ. It […]

What have you missed since June 19th?

The reverborations  of Grenfell Tower* continue, coming close to Whampstead as the towers on the nearby Chalcots estate were deemed unsafe by fire safety officers and residents had to leave. Some residents have refused to move saying this is an over-reaction. * apologies for getting the incorrect day in the last newsletter In a rather more […]

What have you missed since June 12th?

It was the Big Lunch weekend – Screen on Fortune Green AND Big Lunches so a lot to cover – here’s how they went. There was a chemical alert on West End Lane. A story picked up by the Standard, Express and Daily Mirror, but only West Hampstead Life got to the ‘bottom’ of it. West Hampstead […]

What have you missed since June 5th?

The big news. You can’t have missed it. Tulip Siddiq was re-elected as MP for H&K. Commiserations to the other candidates; Claire-Louise Leyland for the Tories, Kirsty Allan for the Lib Dems, John Mansook for the Greens, and independents Hugh Easterbrook and Rainbow George. A man was arrested following the murder of a woman in […]

Bouquets for Tulip as she surges to comfortable win

Tulip Siddiq MP romped home with a clear victory in Hampstead & Kilburn, getting 34,646 votes and more than half of all votes. That was a margin of 15,560 over her Conservative opponent Claire-Louise Leyland. There was a swing to Labour of 14.6%, which transformed Tulip’s slim margin of 1,138 seats in 2015. Far from being a […]

What have you missed since May 30th?

There was another terrorist attack. Some local Labour activists were at Borough Market, but all safe thank goodness. It’s election day on Thursday. Our final interview for H&K 2017: Tulip Siddiq. (And in case you haven’t read them; here are the interviews with Claire-Louise Leyland (Conservative), Kirsty Allan (Lib Dem) and John Mansook (Green)). If […]

H&K 2017: The Tulip Siddiq interview

As the incumbent MP, and a very active one at that, Labour’s Tulip Siddiq has a higher profile than the other candidates for Hampstead & Kilburn. It is hard to believe she has only been our MP for two years – she has packed a lot in to that time (including this recent interview with […]

What have you missed since May 22nd?

Due to the tragic incident in Manchester and immediate suspension of all electioneering, our hustings was cancelled. Alas we’ve been unable to organise another one. There were security measures taken at the O2 carpark. Football fans were out in force before the FA Cup final. Is this a taste of things to come as Spurs play at Wembley […]

H&K 2017: The John Mansook Interview

John Mansook, the young chairman of Brent Greens, and the Green Party candidate for H&K  was out for a coffee last month with another member of the Brent Green party discussing how to take the local party forward. The next day Theresa May announced the snap general election, and there swiftly followed an email asking if John […]

Plaque installed for Dave Simcock

If you are wandering down West End Lane you might have noticed a new plaque on the bench opposite Cycle Surgery. It is in memory of Dave Simcock. Who was Dave Simcock? Dave Simcock, who died last year, was a long time committee member of WHAT (West Hampstead Amenity and Transport). On Monday May 22nd, […]

What have you missed since May 15th?

The big news: Hustings on Tuesday at the Sheriff Centre. Doors open at 7:00, starts at 7:30. Next up in our election 2017 interviews: the Conservative candidate for H&K, Claire-Louise Leyland. A man was sentenced for ‘disgusting’ violence on his arrest. Election news If you aren’t registered to vote tomorrow (Monday 22) is your final chance! […]

H&K 2017: The Claire-Louise Leyland interview

Claire-Louise Leyland is a Camden councillor for Belsize and for three years has been leader of the Conservative opposition on Camden council. She is also the Conservative candidate for Hampstead & Kilburn in the upcoming general election. Hampstead and Kilburn is one of the Tories’ top target seats – one of the few in London on […]

What have you missed since May 8th?

Don’t know who Kirsty Allan is? Hint – she’s the Liberal Democrat candidate for H&K. We interviewed her. Gabriella, Nazanin’s two-year old daughter, got her passport back. Richard, Gabriella’s father, will be going to visit (he hasn’t seen her for over a year). Opera – in West Hampstead! Election news… Snakes and ladders in H&K (reminder – Tulip won by margin of […]

H&K 2017: The Kirsty Allan interview

If you don’t know who Kirsty Allan is… well, you should. She is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn (H&K). She’s a bona fide local too;  she lives over in Queen’s Park, right on the constituency border between H&K and Westminster North. She actually stood for Westminster North in 2015 but after the Brexit vote, […]

What have you missed since May 1st?

We spoke to Father Andrew to get more detail on his resignation, and how he will miss West Hampstead. Will West Hampstead like Rosa’s Thai Cafe? The Thameslink bus stop just disappeared. Without any notice. Cue much huffing and puffing on Twitter. But HUGE sigh of relief, TFL assure us it will be replaced. Election […]

The real reason Father Andrew resigned

Last Sunday Father Andrew announced that he was retiring as priest of St. Mary’s with All Souls, Kilburn and St. James, West Hampstead. The story was picked up by the Sunday Times, Independent and Guardian. You can even hear it in his own words on Radio 4’s Sunday programme (skip to 7:23). As Stephen, Father […]

What have you missed since April 24th?

The Conservatives chose their candidate, setting up all female fight for H&K. (More election news below). Father Andrew is stepping down as vicar of St. James Church citing the Church of England as being ’institutional homophobic”. There was a ‘clock up’ at West Hampstead Square. Some liked it , while others thought it looked like a […]

An Insight into: Brinkworth Dairy

London Farmers’ Market, which runs the West Hampstead market, has an annual competition to find customers favourite stall at each market. In West Hampstead, the winner (again) was Brinkworth Dairy. So who better for WHL’s next Insight. Brinkworth Dairy is run by Ceri and Chad Cryer (helped by their young three boys and other family members) […]

What have you missed since April 17th?

Theresa May announced a snap general election. Election fever hit West Hampstead, again (includes summary of the state of play). However, ironically, the Tories have been caught on the hop has they don’t have a candidate, yet.  They are deciding this week. A Brexiteer or not a Brexiteer, that is the question. Bins continued to be a […]