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 where Alfred Northcliffe lived, who founded the … Daily Mail.

Talking of Ham… sorry, Hām, our newest restaurant is opening on February 28th. For a taste of what to expect, the Caterer met the chef – formerly from The Ledbury. The Eater was awaiting the opening too. And they are looking for staff.

An 18 year-old-man was stabbed in Compayne Gardens

The gap formerly known as house on Sumatra Road. Pic: Chris Simpson

Out of the mouth of babes… A West Hampstead six-year-old has started a campaign against plastic waste. She’s right, let’s join her.

The Friends of West Hampstead Library had its AGM this week. There was a very good turnout, ‘ with cake’ (are the two related)? Cllr Simpson said future library closures would be “over his dead body”. It does look like there may be volunteers working at the library at some stage though.

The Ham & High, which has been going for 150 years, is closing its offices on the Finchley Road and relocating to Barking. It will keep a couple of ‘hot desks’ in the area. Former reporters were sad at the news.

Another local restaurant, Wet Fish Cafe, celebrated its fifteenth birthday this week. Congratulations.

Alas, not so fortunate for Tiffin Tin on Mill Lane. They were broken into this weekend.

St. James and St Mary’s churches are still looking for a new vicar. Any suggestions?

Stanley Rosenthal, who had lived in West Hampstead all his life (indeed in the same house), passed away at 94. His memories of fellow school children turning up with no shoes in the 1930s turned him into a life-long Liberal supporter (an anecdote he recounted to me, although the newsletter got the party wrong. Apologies.)

Our historians looked back to the punk-era in West Hampstead, and an artist who helped them.

A freight ’super-hub’ was approved, just off the Cricklewood Broadway, by Barnet Council as the Conservatives hold a one-seat majority on the planning committee. It is not actually in Camden (its about 500 metres to the north) but local Fortune Green councillor, Lorna Russell, who fears the impact on our area, addressed their planning meeting. There were hundreds of letters opposed and three in favour. This gives a bit of a background about what it will be.

JW3 wants to put a large ad space on the apartment blocks it owns on Finchley Road.

Local resident Gio Spinella (a councillor the other side of the Finchley Road in Frognal) was elected Conservative leader in Camden, taking over from Claire-Louise Leyland. Turns out he had to leave Sicily because of the Mafia.

Coming up this week

Mon 19th – Locally Sourced ‘An Evening with Virginia Woolf’ at the Alliance

Mon 19th – an Evening with Mick Herron and his latest book, London Rules, at WEL Books

Mon 19th – Tricycle fundraiser Jim Carter + Kenneth Branagh and Derek Jacobi. Tickets here.

Wed 21st – Greg Wise reading from his sister, Clare’s book on her experience of cancer,@WEL Books

Fri 23rd – Sherriff Concert series, Heath Quartet. Tickets here.

Sun 25th – Join the Friends of Fortune Green for the big cut-down (of perennials). Help make West Hampstead more beautiful.

Sun 25th – Tricycle fundraiser Jim Carter + Emma Thompson and Imelda Staunton (last few tickets left)

Mon 26th – NDF AGM at the Library.

Tweet of the week

WE WON THE ZONE 2 world cup! (It was a hypothetical knock out league of zone 2 tube stations). West Hampstead beat Maida Vale in the final. More details here.

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 get out in time.

Firefighters were quickly on the scene, confirmed that there was no-one injured and evacuated neighbours as a precaution. The Fire Brigade posted more photos of the house, including an excavator, which was working in the basement.

The house had been empty for over a decade. It was sold in 2006 by a family that had lived there since 1947. It was up for auction a couple of times over that period, while the owner/developer was seeking planning permission for conversion into flats, most recently in 2015 for 4 flats (2 x 1 bed and 2 x 2 bed) as well as the conversion of the basement. The developers went to appeal over their 2015 application, but this was turned down (although the actual reasons were unclear). Camden didn’t object to the conversion but wanted to make it car-free and ensure payment of financial obligations.

The story has been widely picked up; by the Mail Online, the Independent, the BBC, the Standard as well as the local press. The Mail Online’s story took the biscuit though as it described it as a “Terraced house in millionaires’ row where homes cost £1.5m collapses“. Sumatra Road is nice enough, but it’s not exactly millionaires row.

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 week and came back again, but this time the shelves were empty. Other chemists and Waitrose are having the same problem.

We ate at the Clock Cafe. Did it strike a chord?

Another accident on Mill Lane, time for some traffic calming? Pic: Russ Denton

There was the sound of gunfire in Kilburn on Thursday night.

On Sunday morning a 28-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman were arrested in Kilburn as suspects for a murder of a 55-year-old woman in Fellows Road, Belsize Park on Friday.

There was a warning about cars being broken into on Gascony Avenue, Smyrna Road and Westbere Road. Follow the usual advice – don’t leave anything of value visible.

This week we met local engineer Roma Agrawal who published her debut book. She is passionate at explaining the wonder of engineering, and gave a good restaurant tip, in our latest insight.

It’s been 100 years since some women got the vote. What were they doing in our area?

And still fighting for women’s rights 100 years later, local artist (and owner of Curled Leaf) Alketa Xhafa-Mripa is installing her piece ‘Thinking of you’ in Kings Cross on March 8th. It involves hundreds of women’s dresses and if you want to donate you can drop one off at the Curled Leaf, or any Lush store by March 1st.

A masseur based in West Hampstead was in court accused of assaulting three clients.

Tory council candidate Maria Higson has switched from West Hampstead to Hampstead, following Hamish Hunter pulling out as a candidate for Hampstead.

It’s the Friends of West Hampstead Library’s AGM this week on the 15th. ‘Past Tense, Future Perfect?’
And to get in the mood this is the latest post from their writer in residence. It’s a nice read.

And talking of literary matters, our friends at West End Lane Books have requested planning permission for an extension.

Coming up

Tues 13th Nick Coleman on ‘Voices, How A Great Singer Can Change Your Life’ at WEL Books

Tues 13th – 6:30 to 8:30 NEW cycle maintenance workshop at Sidings Community Centre

Thurs 15th FOWHL AGM at, errr, West Hampstead Library…!

Sun 18th: 2-4pm. Photographic workshop on Fortune Green. Sign up here

And beyond…

Mon 19th – Locally Sourced ‘An Evening with Virginia Woolf’ at the Alliance

Mon 19th – an Evening with Mick Herron and his latest book, London Rules, at WEL Books

Mon 19th – Tricycle fundraiser Jim Carter + Kenneth Branagh and Derek Jacobi. Tickets here.

Wed 21st – Greg Wise reading from his sister, Clare’s book on her experience of cancer,@WEL Books

Fri 23rd – Sherriff Concert series, Heath Quartet. Tickets here.

Sun 25th – Join the Friends of Fortune Green for the big cut-down (of perennials). Help make West Hampstead more beautiful.

Sun 25th – Tricycle fundraiser Jim Carter + Emma Thompson and Imelda Staunton (last few tickets left)

Tweet of the week

We thought this (below) was really clever.

Clock Cafe; fresh face, familiar food

You will have noticed that where Lena’s Café was we now have a fresh face on the high street, but something seems familiar about Clock Café.

With the same set up of deli-style food served hot or cold, Clock Café has the same chef and management as Lena’s but has been given a much needed facelift (after a Porsche crashed through the window)!

Mixed salads on offer at the Clock Cafe

Though it doesn’t quite boast the same ambiance as some of the restaurants, pubs and cafés we have on West End Lane, Clock Café offers some variety, a low key and reasonably priced option, whether you’re eating in or taking away. I’d imagine this wil be a popular spot for those working in the area looking for a quick bite on their lunch break.

You’re spoilt for choice with the food options.  I highly recommend the baked cauliflower – bursting full of flavour, the greens and chicken in tomato sauce. It was extremely tasty; I’d go so far as to say delicious. The aubergine was quite salty, in fact, I dread to think how much salt went in a lot of the menu items. However, if you choose well you may end up with a fairly healthy, hearty meal. It’s a great grab and go or quick sit in place.

And more salads!

Those who were fans of Lena’s would be pleased to know that Clock Café hasn’t lost it’s ‘marketplace in the Mediterranean or Middle East’ feel, with vast trays of baklava and assorted nuts on offer (the nuts are new by the way).

And it does food to go.

Prices are cheaper if you take your food to go, choices include boxes filled to the brim with your own choice of main food items and salads, sandwiches, wraps and a soup of the day. They also have a nice selection of drinks, including coffee (of course).

It’s nice to have you back in the neighborhood, Clock Café.

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 also contains a summary of how to contact your local Safer Neighbourhood team).

How’s the Overground redevelopment progressing?

Not a sunset, but a sunrise as seen, early, by WHL (on our Instagram).

The Sherriff Centre – and some local mums and a dad (hello Richard!) made an appearance on the One Show in a story on ‘baby brain’. It’s on iPlayer – the segment starts at 3’30”

West Hampstead dog walkers continued their (ever so polite) fight with Camden Council over the cemetery. Camden backed down slightly and said as long as dogs were kept under control then people are welcome to walk them there. It appeared one part of the council had not been talking to another.

Camden signed up to new air quality targets by 2030, which means it will be getting even tougher on cars. Will it improve West End Lane and the Maygrove/Iverson situation?

South Hampstead School is hosting a performance of Looking for Mummy: Nazanin’s story on 9th Feb for 160 sixth formers and will be live-streamed to more schools.

Western Food & Wine, the convenience store at the corner of Sherriff Road is being forced to close after 20 years after the landlord apparently hiked the rent.

It was the last day of the Kilburn Ironworks.

Camden replaced the memorial bench to the popular Kilburn café owner, Huseyin Gulbudak, who was stabbed to death by his son. Someone stole the first bench back in July.

Coming up

Ooh! Ooh! there are a couple of seats still available for the Tricycle fundraising evening with Jim Carter interviewing Emma Thompson and Imelda Staunton on 25th Feb. Buy now while stocks last.

(And there are also still tickets for the event on Mon 19th Feb with Kenneth Branagh and Derek Jacobi).

Mon 5th – Fitness for older men @CAWH 12:30 – 1:30pm

Fri 9th – Ultimate Improv Friday is back!

Sun 11th – 3pm Patrick Hemmerle at St. Cuthberts playing the rest of Bach’s well tempered Klavier (he’s good!)

And beyond

Tues 13th 7:30pm – Nick Coleman book talk  @WELBooks – How a Great Singer can change your Life

Thurs 15th 7:30 pm Friends of West Hampstead Library AGM.  Their 20th!

Mon 19th 7:30pm Locally Sourced @ the Alliance; An evening with Virginia Woolf (not actually her of course)

Tweet of the week

It was #Groundhogday this week and that is exactly what it feels like for this local who is trying to get the Christmas trees removed from West End Green.

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 try the new vegan buffet offered by Mon Way, was it his way or the highway?

Camden is ‘criminalising’ West Hampstead dog walkers. We ‘doggedly’ investigated this issue and think they should have let sleeping dogs lie.

Fortune Green as photographed by FoFG’s new artist in residence Peter Coles.

Local business Ink Media (publishers of the rather good EasyJet magazine among others) is looking to float on the stock market for £70 million. The company is based in the commercial space at the bottom of the Blackburn Road student accommodation. [paywall]

In a surprise move Claire-Louise Leyland is standing down as leader of the Camden Conservatives and as a Belsize councillor at the May elections.

Cllr Phil Rosenberg has a twin brother, Bill. Who knew?

This guy has been going to the Swiss Cottage Odeon. Every week. Since 1945.

Into dance and house vinyl? there’s a ton at Cancer Research – and more to come. A (sometimes) DJ is having a clear out.

All we want for Christmas is for… last year’s Christmas trees to be gone! It’s a month after Christmas day and they were still there.

It’s nearly Valentine’s day – one local couple celebrated in a rather different way!

As we announced last week, Lately is closing (the owners of Kilburn Ironworks aren’t commenting yet on their plans to take it over). We’re interested to hear your memories of West Hampstead’s favourite nightclub… if you can remember any of them. Drop us a mail <>

Coming up.
Hotly tipped for Oscar success, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri is on at the Tricycle Cinema, while JW3 is showing Churchill biopic Darkest Hour

Tom does it Mon Way

The arrival of Mon Way Bistro on Mill Lane seems to have caused a bit of a stir (especially the soups!), and somehow captured the imagination of a broad range of diners. It’s often very busy, sometimes with customers having to wait to get a table, and inside it’s relaxed yet buzzing, with diners really enjoying themselves.

Specialising in vegetarian, and often completely vegan food, and presented via an ‘all you can eat’ buffet (something that always appeals to me!), I was curious to see whether the eating experience would live up to their tantalising photos on Twitter and Facebook.

Chatting with owner Andrea and one of her chefs, Mihaela, it became apparent very quickly that this is an operation run with real enthusiasm and commitment. The food is excellent. Enticing salads, reminiscent of those at the charming Clock Café on West End Lane (previously Lena II), with key items such as aubergine; pasta dishes, grains (yes, this is NW6, there’s quinoa!), couscous with raisins etc. – there’s plenty of choice, and everything is prepared with care, vegetables cooked well, sauces and dressings well-seasoned. I ate ton of food, then promptly marched back to the buffet for seconds.

Now desserts must be tricky to do from a vegan perspective; without eggs they can be a little dense, however I actually quite like this quality, and the unctuous feel it gives to brownies and things. Indeed, brownies were present, and delicious, but I was also intrigued by emerald cakes (or whatever they were called) which feature spinach. These were delightful, and very moreish, I think due to being well-balanced with not too much sugar.

This style of food is becoming more and more popular. It only takes a quick Google to learn of all sorts of people endorsing it – including professional rugby players, who clearly need a pretty solid helping of protein and nutrients.

For me, it’s grub of which you can enjoy generous quantities, and still feel great afterwards. Fantastic after a workout, or just as a healthy alternative for any occasion. And that feeling of healthy empowerment then makes it all the more justifiable to enjoy a huge curry and a bottle or two of red wine in the evening (not that those are unhealthy, of course).

Dry January? F**k that. But eating at Mon Way every day for a month? – I could do that, happily.

Ed – Mon Way is now offering the vegan buffet during the week as well as at weekends. It was £6, and will be rising to £9 (still very reasonable).

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 of us can remember (and we can’t remember much after too many late nights there). A planning application has gone in for a large-scale revamp of the venue, turning it into a bar. Who’s behind it? A bit of digging into the planning app seems to suggest that it’s the owner of… Kilburn Ironworks

Kilburn had a visitor from the Falkland Islands. Twitter was all aflutter. What was it? How did it get to NW6? Turned out it was a striated caracara (a Falkland’s falcon or Johnny Rook to the locals), and it had escaped from London Zoo.

A striated caracara a long way from the Falkland Islands… spotted by tashry18

Do West Hampstead kids have enough opportunities to play outdoors in our neighbourhood? Not at this time of year maybe, but with summer on the distant horizon we investigated the latest Play Street initiative from Narcissus Road (and took a look at parks too).

The Mayor has announced a further thirteen tube stations that will get step-free access. Once again West Hampstead is not among them. But there may be some light at the end of the tunnel as TfL has agreed to conduct a feasibility study into a lift.

The Tricycle has three job openings, so looks likes the theatre is gearing up to open up again. Hurrah! (Any budding producers out there…)

Jeweller Dinny Hall has lived in West Hampstead for more than 30 years, and this is what she likes about it.

A sushi place has opened up fairly recently on Broadhurst Gardens (near La Mer). Sushi Tokoro is tiny but is getting some good reviews especially for it’s (good value) set lunches.

Last week’s news about the food hygiene ratings contained a link to a rather out of date list of local restaurant scores. Apologies to those restaurants whose scores have since improved. The latest scores are here: and there’s also a new twitter bot tracking changes in NW6 scores.

Is Camden Council due for a £1 million windfall?

Love board games? One local is trying to set up a regular meetup. I imagine it will have the monopoly in the area.

Or if drumming is more your thing, another local is trying to set up a drumming circle.

Coming up

Thurs 25th – 12-1pm West Hampstead SNT will be a JW3
Sun 28th – 3pm At St. Cuthbert’s Church, Patrick Hemmerle playing ‘the Well Tempered Klavier’

Raising the roof on the student housing block

The new owner of the student housing block on Blackburn Road, has put in a planning application to add 41 additional rooms (studios) to the block buy adding extra floors on top.

Blackburn Road student housing ‘as is’

The development already has 347 units and has already been given planning permission to add an extension to the internal courtyard and a new outdoor canopy to the front.

The new application is to add extra floors to the existing building(s).  Each of the constituent blocks will get additional floors. The one facing Blackburn Road will get a single storey mansard roof, the one on the corner will get a two-storey extension, the one in the middle will get one floor and the tallest will stay the same height but will have its lead roofing replaced by brick fascia to match the others.

Blackburn Road student housing ‘after’.

From an aesthetic point of view, the new design seems to bring the building more in keeping with West Hampstead Square. Unusually, the planning application explicitly criticises the ‘ugly’ lead roof – the “top single storey and a 2-storey zinc appear just dropped on the roof”. Clearly Camden didn’t feel it was too ugly first time around. One can argue the visual merits of mixed materials vs. homogeneity.

Proposal as seen from the O2 carpark.

The developers have presented the plans to the NDF (Neighbourhood Development Forum).  The NDF is quite relaxed about the extra storeys and indeed at their public meeting someone opined that the existing building was of’incredibly poor design’. Apparently, the council feels the same way as ‘the council continue to recognise the opportunity to improve the appearance of the existing building’.

The extra height will cast shadow on what could be the best location for a green space as and when the O2 car park is redeveloped, so decisions made now could influence future plans – more evidence for the need for some joined-up thinking/masterplanning.

The NDF did say that as a quid-pro-quo for development it would like to see improved landscaping at ground level. The developers have made some sensible suggestions. However, when the scheme was originally built there were improvements to the passage at the side of the building. Sadly these improvements were not maintained and the area  soon looked unkempt again. If there is no maintenance plan for the new planting, the same thing will happen again. Agreements to landscape need to come with a commitment or obligation to keep any new landscapes areas in good condition, or funding so the council can do it.

New landscaping plans, but who will maintain it?

The developers are also proposing improvements to the end section of Billy Fury Way (from West End Lane to the corner of the building). Billy Fury Way has been a problem now for some time that the council and Network Rail seem unable to resolve. No progress is being made, nor are any of the options being costed or considered on a value-for-money basis, which is surprising in an era of budget constraints.

The original landscaping in front of the building is also to be replaced having not been successful (or maintained). Planting Birches (a woodland tree) in a baking hot pavement was done by someone who didn’t know what they were doing.

Despite concerns about the impact on the area, the students don’t seem to cause anti-social behaviour (their parents are paying over £10,000 p.a. per room). Also, although it took a while, all the commercial space is now let, so overall it’s a benefit to the area. It’s just a bit odd that it is being redeveloped so soon and partly on grounds of poor design. You can add comments on the application up to the 23 January.

 

No step closer to step-free access for West Hampstead tube station

Many local organisations have been pushing for step-free access to West Hampstead tube station over the past few years – even if opinion diverges on what the solution should be. It was therefore disappointing, as local residents association WHGARA pointed out recently, that West Hampstead was not included in the recent batch of stations to benefit from the Mayor’s £200 million fund for improvements.

At the end of 2017, TfL announced that “the next stations to benefit from step-free access will be Amersham, Buckhurst Hill, Cockfosters, Mill Hill East, Osterley and South Woodford.”

Collectively, these six stations have 15.5 million journeys each year (Mill Hill East has only 1.3 million journeys, the fewest on the Northern Line). West Hampstead station has 11 million journeys!

When we totted up the numbers last year, the three West Hampstead stations combined have nearly 20 million journeys a year and that’s up from 16 million in 2014.

Over the past five years we have had step-free access installed at the Thameslink station, and it is being fitted as part of the redevelopment of the Overground station. The Overground lifts were partly funded by £1.8 million from the Department for Transport’s Access for All fund.

Hope remains for the tube station. Georgia Gould, the leader of Camden Council, added her support when she came up to West Hampstead in her ‘tour de Camden’ to talk to local groups, and local tube staff have been tweeting about the issue and being more pro-active (thanks to new area staff) as they too can see it’s a sensible move. They deal with customers on a day-to-day basis (not just at West Hampstead but at other stations too) so have a sense of what needs doing.

“We are asked all the time to assist passengers,” said one member of staff. “Of course we’re happy to do it, but it takes us away from other work – and this is a station that is never not busy”.

Unsurprisingly, the issue comes down to money. TfL has said that it can cost up to £1 million to install a lift and the budget for a station refurbishment is about £10 million. At West Hampstead, a new lift and entrance is estimated to cost substantially more: £15 – £16 million, due to the engineering constraints of having the station on the bridge.

The Neighbourhood Development Forum has drawn up proposals for a ‘new’ station on the other side of the road. This would keep all the pedestrian flow between the stations on the same side of West End Lane, but has been costed at £25 million.

A cheaper option, suggested by station staff who know the layout of the station, is that a lift shaft could be installed where the now-defunct gent’s toilets were. Because West Hampstead is a single platform station, only one lift is needed. In response to a question from staff, TfL said it is minded to have a more comprehensive scheme that includes a lift and expanded access, as it expects further growth in passenger numbers once improvements to Thameslink are fully operational. However, it indicated it would be looking at doing a feasibility study.

The problems at West Hampstead are lack of step-free access and congestion at the entrance (improved by the recent addition of the extra gate). The platform itself is nice and wide and platform over-crowding is not a problem. If a lift could be installed in the gent’s loos would it be possible to take back space from one or other of the shops adjacent to the entrance to create more space and reduce overcrowding?

What is the best solution? It’s not obvious, but solving these problems rarely is. As the NDF put it “all ideas should be considered, but we are not in a position to judge on the feasibility of schemes”. It seems like it is time for TfL to come to a public meeting and explain its thinking.

The best new fitness classes in West Hampstead

New Year, new round-up of West Hampstead’s fitness and gym options (would you believe, this is our most popular article year in, year out). Most of you will already know about the main local gyms to help you shed those post-Christmas pounds (or kilos): Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre, Virgin Active at the O2 and the Gym up by Fortune Green.

However, West Hampstead is getting a reputation as the place for specialised fitness classes. Classes such as HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) and similar interval-based training classes have proven an effective way to get fit and into shape. The festive period inevitably leads not just to a more generous girth, but also a sluggish feeling, so having an instructor telling you exactly what to do is a sure fire way to get a work out that works.

We have reviewed three very different local fitness boutiques in the area to find out which class is best for you and we have some West Hampstead Life exclusive discounts below.

Studio Society

The Studio Society boasts live and fully immersive, interactive classes with virtual instructors. You can do mountain climbers and feel like you’re on top of a skyscraper in Manhattan or take the shivanasa yoga pose feeling like you’re amongst the temples of Bali.

The instructor is video linked and you can see their posture from three different angles, so you do see their side profiles too, and with digitally inserted overlays you get a bit of extra instruction on which areas of your body you are targeting. Of course, unlike a live class, you can’t ask the instructor a question or have them spot you if you need an extra pointer, however, the instructions are quite intricate and detailed.

You may wonder whether there’s much difference between this and taking a class at home on YouTube. Being in a group environment is actually quite motivating and Studio Society has chosen to run these classes with specialised high-quality instructors. However, if you really need a real person to get you going, then there are “live” classes too.

There are a wide variety of classes (both virtual and live), including a range of HIIT sessions, in bursts of 30 or 45 minutes, sculpting, strength and conditioning as well as pilates, yoga and even mindfulness and meditation. There is also a spinning room, with a variety of scenes on the screen – with a motivational instructor getting you to sweat to the max.

Studio Society has proven very popular since opening last summer, which can mean some quite big classes in its two huge studios and a fully packed spinning room.

The facilities are excellent and feel new. There are plenty of showers and toilets, a big changing area and lots of lockers.

It’s a short walk away (right next to the Gym actually) up by Fortune Green. Its classes start early in the morning, carry on throughout the day and finish in the evening.

There’s no contract, and £26.95 a month gives you unlimited classes. There’s a January offer of no joining fee and a 50% discount on your first month’s subscription with the promo code Jan1

Great for: Value, variety of classes and excellent facilities
Less great: Distance from the station, large classes, a little less personal
January offers: £26.95 a month for unlimited classes no joining fee and 50% discount on your first month’s subscription with the promo code Jan1

The HIIT Gym

Intense, varied, fun and impactful all come to mind when it comes to the HIIT gym. HIIT is fast paced, high energy and gets results.

Although intense, I would say these classes are suitable for all levels. They are really motivating, as the instructor talks you through every minute and the exercises change so you’re never doing anything long enough to hate it. You can tailor the exercises to your level somewhat, for example by choosing heavier weights, and sometimes the instructor gives you modifications. Included in the classes are intervals on the treadmill and rowing machines, so you get to incorporate cardio into your workout.

Although the classes always follow the same format, they always feel different and never boring.

Class sizes are around 20 max which is about right, and there is just the one class every hour. I’ve very rarely had any problems getting into a class, and there are plenty of classes outside working hours. It is also conveniently tucked away on Broadhurst Gardens, only a quick hop around the corner from all the stations in West Hampstead.

The facilities are quite limited, this is more of a walk in – walk out place but you can shower if you need to.

HIIT gym is a little more expensive at £45 a month for 4 classes a month, £65 for 8 classes month or £99 a month for unlimited classes. They also offer pay-as-you-go classes and transformation packages.

HIIT gym has given us West Hampstead Life exclusive offers:

  • 15% off the Transformation package, which includes 2 compositions tests, a nutritional plan as well as unlimited sessions for a six-week period and a free heart rate monitor worth £60, total cost £153 instead of £180
  • 20% off the Transformation and pay-as-you-go packs. Ten sessions are normally £120, so that becomes £96, while 20 sessions would be £200, which falls to £160 with the discount.
  • HIIT also offer student discounts. E-mail moc.s1519358377mygti1519358377ih@da1519358377etspm1519358377ahtse1519358377w1519358377 and mention this article to redeem these discounts.

Great for: High energy, effective classes, 1-minute walk from West Hampstead station
Less great: Limited facilities, fairly big classes at peak times so less personal attention
January offers: No joining fee plus West Hampstead Life discounts (see above).

The Tone Room

New kid on the block (on Mill Lane actually), The Tone Room offers intense and specialised workouts to get you to your strength and toning goals. With tiny classes of no more than six people, trainer Sanjay offers an experience tailored to your needs, and also offers nutritional and postural expertise. It’s as good as having a personal trainer.

The Tone Room is the next level up from a HIIT class, with less room to ‘get away with it’ if, like me, those burpees tend to slow you down! There is plenty of adaptation, however, if you need modifications to suit your fitness and strength levels. If you’re feeling like you’ve plateaued with bigger classes and want to take your workout seriously, the Tone Room can help you get to where you want to be.

Sanjay has done a great job building this boutique and intimate fitness space, and his passion for health and transformation really shows.

Facilities are limited with no showers and limited changing space, however, there is room to leave your things and it feels like a safe space.

The Tone Room is offering £10 for your first class and £45 for three classes. However, if you register for your first £10 class and mention this article, you can get a West Hampstead Life exclusive offer of three classes for £35

Standard prices are: single class £25, 10 classes £175, 20 classes £280, 50 classes £600, yearly £1,500, monthly unlimited £150

Great for: Personalised attention to get you to your fitness goals
Less great: No shower facilities and limited changing facilities, a little far from West Hampstead Stations
January offers: Exclusive West Hampstead Life offer (see above).

Good luck!

It was 56 years ago today, Decca said the Beatles couldn’t play

On a very cold New Year’s Day in 1962 the Beatles arrived in West Hampstead for their audition at Decca Studios.

The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein had several record shops in Liverpool and had a meeting with the marketing people at Decca. They told Dick Rowe – Decca’s A&R (Artists and Repertoire) manager – about The Beatles and he sent his assistant Mike Smith to Liverpool to see them at The Cavern on 13 December 1961. Smith was very impressed by the audience reaction and an audition was arranged in London for 1st January 1962.

Back in 1962, New Year’s Day wasn’t a public holiday but Dick Rowe was away, and it was left to Mike Smith to organise the session. Brian Epstein travelled to London by train, but John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and drummer Pete Best, had to drive down the previous day in a van with their equipment. The freezing weather, with fog and snow, meant the journey took ten hours instead of the usual five. After getting lost, The Beatles finally arrived at the Royal Hotel in Woburn Place around 10pm on New Year’s Eve. Pete Best (who was replaced by Ringo Starr later that year) recalled what happened:

“Brian Epstein had read the riot act to us before we went down to London. You know, be good little boys, you mustn’t be out after 10 o’clock. And there we were with everyone else in the middle of Trafalgar Square as drunk as skunks. We were late getting to the Decca Studios the next day. Brian was there before us. He was livid and tore a strip off us left, right and centre. John said, Brian shut up, we are here for the audition’. (From: Love Me Do; the Beatles ‘62, TV documentary 2012).

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The boys arrived at the Broadhurst Gardens studio at 11 o’clock and were not at their best after a long journey and a night of heavy drinking. Mike Smith was more than hour late himself, having been held up by the snow, and Epstein was very annoyed. They briefly met Tony Meehan who went into the producer’s box. He had grown up in West Hampstead and been the drummer with Cliff Richard and the Shadows before working as an assistant producer at Decca. The Beatles started to set up their equipment but the Decca engineers asked them to use the studio amplifiers as the group’s were in poor condition.

Over the next few hours The Beatles played 15 songs, mostly cover versions; only three were Lennon and McCartney originals (Like Dreamers Do, Hello Little Girl and Love Of The Loved). Epstein had persuaded them to do a set that he thought would show their range of ability, including Besame Mucho, The Sheik Of Araby, Money and Till There Was You. Lennon and McCartney later said they had wanted to include more rock numbers. Epstein thought the audition had gone well and he treated the boys to a meal at a restaurant in Swiss Cottage recommended by Mike Smith.

Mike Smith at Decca

Later that same afternoon, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes auditioned at Decca. After the auditions Mike Smith wanted to sign both groups but Dick Rowe said they could only take one and told Smith to choose. He went with the Tremeloes because their audition was better than The Beatles’ and he thought it would be easier to work with a Dagenham band than a Liverpool-based group. Smith lived nearby in Barking.

The Tremeloes at Decca

After numerous phone calls, Epstein was invited to lunch with Dick Rowe and the head of marketing on the 6 February. He was told that Decca had decided not to sign The Beatles. In his autobiography Epstein said he couldn’t believe his ears.

“You must be out of your tiny little minds! These boys are going to explode. I am completely confident that one day they will be bigger than Elvis Presley!”

He said that Rowe told him:

“Not to mince words, Mr Epstein, we don’t like your boys’ sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out …. Your boys are never going to get off the ground. We know what we’re talking about. You really should stick to selling recordings in Liverpool.” (From: Brian Epstein, A Cellarful of Noise London: Souvenir, 1964).

Dick Rowe strongly denied that he said this, and believes that Epstein was so annoyed that the Beatles had been turned down that he made it up. But the story stuck and Rowe went down in history as ‘the man who turned down the Beatles’. But this is unfair because it was Mike Smith who made the decision. And he wasn’t alone; as Rolling Stones manager Andrew Oldham pointed out in his autobiography, “Everybody turned them down. Columbia, Oriole, Philips and Pye turned the Beatles down, based on what they heard from the Decca session”.

Epstein left the Decca meeting with the tapes of the audition. He stayed in London for a few days and on 8 February he met Bob Boast, the manager of the large HMV record shop in Oxford Street. They knew each other from a seminar in Hamburg and got on well. Boast was not very impressed with the recording tapes in Decca boxes and suggested that Epstein go upstairs where there was a studio that could make copies onto disk. He thought these would look better when Epstein approached the other record companies. The disk-cutter Jim Foy was impressed by the fact that Lennon and McCartney had composed three tracks, as it was unusual at this time for a band to write their own material. Foy told EMI’s head of publishing Sid Coleman who arranged a meeting with George Martin, who was then the head of A&R at Parlophone, part of EMI.

You can listen to 10 tracks from the Decca session for yourself in the video at the top of the article.

Most critics agree that it’s hard to appreciate the Beatles’ potential from this material. They didn’t perform well nor did their unique talent emerge. The original tapes were recently sold at auction to a Japanese collector for £35,000.

You can hear Mike Smith, Pete Best and Brian Poole talking about their memories of the audition after 40 years:

Epstein met George Martin on 13 February 1962. Martin was not particularly impressed by the Decca sessions demo either, but he admired the confidence Epstein had in the Beatles and he was struck by the freshness of the three original compositions. In May, Martin told Epstein that he wanted to sign the group and the deal was done on 4 June, two days before their audition at Abbey Road. The band recorded their first hit, Love Me Do, there in September. It was released on 5 October and reached number 17 in the charts. Their second single, Please Please Me, was released on 11 January 1963 and reached number 1 in the NME and Melody Maker charts.

Liked the Rolling Stones
Although Decca did not sign the Beatles, it did get the Rolling Stones. On 10 May 1963, Dick Rowe and George Harrison were judges at a local talent competition at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool. George told Dick Rowe about a band he had seen who were very good. Dick returned to London and saw the Rolling Stones at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond where they had a residency. Four days later he signed them to Decca. Their first single was Chuck Berry’s Come On, which was re-recorded at Decca Studios and released on 7 June. It reached number 21 in the charts. Shrewdly, manager Andrew Oldham wanted to retain the performing rights of the music and he produced most of the Stones’ other records at independent studios and then leased them to Decca.

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Despite being lumbered with the tag of the man who turned down The Beatles, Dick Rowe in fact had a long and successful time at Decca. He went on to sign The Animals, The Moody Blues, The Zombies, Them (with Van Morrison), The Small Faces, Lulu and Tom Jones among many others. He died from diabetes in June 1986 at his home in Greenwich.

A rich history
What of the studio itself?

The building in Broadhurst Gardens was built around 1884 as a workshop and then converted into West Hampstead Town Hall. Despite its name, this was not a public building but a private venue that could be rented for weddings and concerts.

In 1928, it became the recording studio of the Crystalate Record Company. During the depression of the 1930s, small independent record companies struggled to survive. Decca and EMI bought most of them and became great rivals. EMI opened its Abbey Road studios in November 1931, and in 1937, Crystalate was acquired by Decca which moved all its recording to Broadhurst Gardens. Thousands of records were made here by Decca until the company left in 1981. As well as many classical records, these included sessions by David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Tom Jones, Lulu, Van Morrison, The Moody Blues, and Eric Clapton with John Mayall.

In its final form there were three main studios at Decca:
Studio 1: straight ahead as you entered the building, with the control room upstairs above the studios. This was used for many pop records.
Studio 2: a smaller room, was downstairs and was the main rock & roll and blues studio.
Studio 3: was opened in 1962 at the back of the building, and was large enough to take a full orchestra. Bing Crosby made one of his last albums, Feels Good, Feels Right, here in August 1976.

In 1974, The Moody Blues did a deal with Decca and took over Studio 1 as their Threshold Studios. They had made their previous albums at Decca and they recorded Long Distance Voyager at Threshold.

In 1980, Sir Edward Lewis, who created Decca in 1929, died. The company was sold to Polygram, and is now part of the Universal Music Group. The building on Broadhurst Gardens is now Lilian Baylis House, used by the English National Opera who took it over in November 1981.

Back in October 2017, I was asked by a Dutch radio station to give them a tour of the old Decca studios – it was also filmed and you can watch it here (the first bit is in Dutch, but the rest is all in English)

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’ be where Brioche was?

The Iverson Road Space didn’t reopen by Christmas as planned, but should reopen in January.

Although the plague of moped thefts has eased, there have been a couple recently: outside the tube station and another outside Waitrose. So this is still an issue. It only takes a second to loose your phone.

It’s the final week for consultation on the pedestrianisation of part of Oxford Street. The 139 would be one of just two buses that would continue to pass along the street.

The Fortune Green Safer Neighbourhood Team cracked down on rogue landlords in West Hampstead, with Sun journalists in tow.

A gang of (pretty hapless) burglars who smashed their way into Banana Tree back in May (and five other premises) were sentenced to jail.

YEAR IN REVIEW

The year started with a bang in January when a green Porsche smashed into Lena’s Café.

Work began in earnest on the Overground station upgrade. It’s running a little behind schedule, but not too much. Passenger numbers passing though the three West Hampstead stations topped 20 million for the first time.

Planning continued to dominate as a local issue, with the controversial redevelopment of 156 WEL approved in February. Travis Perkins is still trying to get the decision reversed or delayed in the courts but is running out of options. The Ballymore flats at West Hampstead Square FINALLY welcomed their first occupants in late January, eighteen months late. And the most recent scheme for Gondar Gardens came up for consultation.

There was a new recycling regime! Introduced on April 1st it didn’t exactly run smoothly. Even six months later there were still issues.

And on that note we took a walk up West End Lane. Like the one we took down the Kilburn High Road.

Christmas trees can be recycled too… all the details are here: Please don’t dump them on the street, like someone from West Hampsted Square appeared to do on Boxing Day!?

and the winner for the first fly tipped Christmas tree of the season is …. as spotted by @ciano_ire (in fact it was beaten by this one – dumped a week before Christmas!)

There were a number of coming and goings ; M&S opened in FebruaryLadudu closed in March and Rosa’s opened on the same site. Lola’s Bakery joined the West End Lane cafés, while on Mill Lane, the Kitchen Table closed to be replaced by the MillHouse.

Father Andrew stepped down from St. James Church (a.k.a. the Sheriff Centre) in May (but remains the postmaster for the time being).

In June there was (another) general election. At the start of campaigning, the polls and bookies tipped the Tories to win Hampstead & Kilburn from Labour, but in the end Tulip won with a margin of over 15,000

Also in June, with worries about terrorist incidents in many people’s minds, West End Lane was closed off with concern about a chemical smell.

There was a very visible rise in moped-enabled crime in the area particularly in the latter half of the year with a spate of mobile phone thefts; and two guys were arrested when their moped was cornered by police after a man was stabbed to death after an attempted robbery of his phone in Maida Vale. There have been other arrests and things have improved, but it is still an issue.

It was our 300th newsletter in October!

Finally, after more than 600 days in prison, things are looking more positive for West Hampstead resident Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Freudian typo corrected). Richard, her husband has kept her name in the news. There was a tying of ribbons round a tree on Fortune Green at Easter to mark one year in prison, and a march in November. She celebrated her birthday on Boxing Day and may be eligible for early release next month.

Coming up

There is a very interesting (monthly) concert series starting at the Sheriff Centre, sponsored by Bechstein pianos.

First one on Friday January 5th is a recital by tenor Mark Padmore accompanied by Andrew West on Piano. The following wednesday they are playing the same concert – in the Cologne Philharmonic Hall!

Tweet of the week

The campaign for a lift at West Hampstead Station received some (very local) support…

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.

St. Lukes Church’s stained glass

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. Christmas Eve has regular services in the morning, with a 6pm children’s crib service and at 11pm a midnight mass. On Christmas day there is an ‘all-age’ eucharist at 10am, where children are invited to bring an unopened present to open during the service.

At St.Lukes in Kidderpore Avenue, technically not in West Hampstead although the parish covers the top part, they are offering carols round the tree at 3pm on Sunday, a midnight mass at 11pm and a morning eucharist on Christmas day at 11am.

unfortunately, St. James (on Sheriff Road) and St. Mary’s All Souls haven’t got their details available at the moment.

What time are the pubs open?

The Black Lion is open on Christmas Eve from 10am to 11pm, on Christmas Day from 12pm to 5pm (drinks only, unless you have booked lunch (£55 and needs to be pre-booked)), on Boxing Day from 12pm to 11pm.

The Railway is open Christmas Eve from 11am to 11pm, on Christmas Day from 12pm to 5pm (drinks only, unless you have booked lunch (£49.99 and needs to be pre-booked)), on Boxing Day from 11pm to 11pm .

The Alice House is open too and has slightly longer hours as it is open Christmas Eve from 9:30am to 12:30am, on Christmas Day from 12pm to 6pm (drinks only, unless you have booked lunch which needs to be pre-booked)), on Boxing day from 10am to 1am.

When will my rubbish be collected?

For Christmas week, rubbish collections will be two days later than normal, and for New Year’s week one day later. You can check for yourself, here.

How can I recycle my Christmas tree?

The Council iw providing a free recycling service for Christmas trees from 2nd January to the 12th. There will be the usual collection points at the bottom of Fortune Green and the Messina Avenue end of Kilburn Grange Park.

Can I expect any disruption to travel?

In an nutshell, yes quite a lot. All services at closed on Christmas Day with a reduced service on Boxing Day. But to complicate matters further there are quite a few disruptions to service beyond that.

Thameslink has engineering works over the Christmas break. Services will be shutting down from 8pm on the 24th, there will be no service on Monday 25th AND Tuesday 26th (nor any Gatwick Express for those of you trying to get to Gatwick) but there will be a limited bus service to Gatwick.

Aside from Christmas and Boxing Day disruption there will be no cross London services on Thameslink either, as trains will be terminating at St. Pancras from the 23rd December to the 1st January. However, from St. Pancras you can get the tube to London Bridge and connect to Thameslink services south from there.

London Overground is also undergoing engineering works and there will be no service from Highbury and Islington to Dalston Junction (until Sat 30th), nor any service between Camden Road and Stratford (also until the 30th) There will be a bus replacement service but you might want to consider other routes.

What will be open…?

Apart from the churches and the pubs, the ice rink at JW3 will be open, even on Christmas Day… a different way to work off the Christmas dinner, some tickets are still available for Christmas Day but please book in advance.

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 – it seems a bit better, although we aren’t counting our chickens, or the discarded fried chicken containers.  Instead, we focused on the street clutter and particularly the A-boards that can obstruct pavements.

Without getting too technical (and with apologies for those who read the KHR piece), I’m going to introduce the word ‘curtilage’ at this point. This means the space between your property and the public highway, but which is still your land. Within reason you can do what want – deck it, put up an A-board or set out goods for sale.

However, if any of these activities take place on the public footpath then people have the right to be miffed. In fact it’s a planning infringement that must be rectified. A well maintained high street keeps the pavement clear and makes sure that it is wide enough for pedestrians (including those with buggies, or in wheelchairs) to pass in opposite directions. There are London planning standards for this – the pedestrian comfort guidance, which recommends a minimum of 3 metres width for a busy pedestrian pavement like West End Lane.

Of course shop-owners put their A-boards out to try to grab some extra custom, a manager might change and not realise the rules (implicit or explicit) or a contractor will put out warning signs and leave them, so there needs to be regular vigilance to ensure that pavements don’t get overrun with signage or other commercial undertakings.

However, the situation is not always clear-cut. At some points the pavement is narrow and any obstruction is a potential hazard, at others it is wide and it’s not such a problem. The width of the curtilage also varies, so at some points, a shopkeeper can put out an A-board but in others, where there is no curtilage they can’t, which can seem ‘unfair’.

With all this in mind, we started our walk by the stations. For years, locals have been campaigning to ensure that the pavements around and between the stations are widened and kept clutter free to ensure easy (and safe) movement of pedestrians. There have been improvements over recent years, but the recent attempt by a phonebox company to install some phone boxes here would have undone all the hard work. Thankfully Camden turned the application down. The situation will also be improved when the Overground station is finished as it will be set much further back, removing a dangerous pinch point on the pavement.

Outside the tube station, we spotted these freebie newspaper containers. They don’t look great and cause a certain amount of disruption to pedestrians in a busy section.  In the past, they have been removed, but they seem to be creeping back. Who is responsible for sorting this out? WHAT takes an interest in these matters, but is it anyone’s responsibility to report infringements? Is it the role of the Neighbourhood Development Forum? What about the thousands of local commuters who walk past daily, or the local councillors, or street cleaners or community police officers?

We asked the local councillors about this and Cllr Lorna Russell replied that the Council do rely on members of the public to flag issues as they can’t have eyes and ears everywhere. However, many people don’t know what needs reporting and even if they do, don’t know how best to report it. Likewise, the councillors themselves report things – they are avid users of the Clean Camden app.

Sometimes an issue can be dealt with by having a quiet word. Other times official action is needed and the council has to take charge.

Here is a good example. This redundant sign (from the Overground crane works) was left there throughout the week even on the very narrowest sections of pavement. A quick call to the Overground building works team got agreement to store them during the week. Success! It’s since reappeared 🙁 and now sits off to one side.

Next up we cross the road to Banana Tree. The restaurant has just lost an appeal and will have to remove its decking. The pavement is not terribly narrow here, so some will judge this a little harsh. However, the restaurant’s A-board does narrow the pavement further.  As a rule of thumb, you’re not going to get an A-board and decking on your curtilage, you have to pick one. And it’s not clear where Banana Tree’s curtilage is, if it has it at all.

Some of you will remember that this time last year the Alice House had a similar issue with their decking. It was a bit different though, as it was clear it was on their curtilage and the issue was more about the height of the decking.

Further up West End Lane, there was a particularly egregious example of a creeping A-boards by Bobby Fitzpatrick, right in the middle of the pavement! Naughty.  You can see how Bobby’s has put chairs and tables out on their curtilage, just as its predecessor La Brocca did, but that A-board is as cheeky as a 1970s comedy.

On the other side of West End Lane, Cedar restaurant too has decked out its curtilage but sometimes puts an A-board out too.

And right at the top of West End Lane, Schnitzel has three A-boards including one which narrows the zebra crossing.

Back down West End Lane, Lola’s is a recent arrival and it has started putting out an A-board too – sometimes partly on the pavement. Even though it has a relatively wide curtilage, it still had to apply for planning permission to put out tables and chairs, but again it’s the A-board that causes the most disruption, particularly because the public pavement is relatively narrow and busy.

There is good news here though, as a quiet word with one of the managers led to the compromise of putting the board as close to the planter as possible, which makes a significant difference.

It’s not all bad news. Here’s an A-board nearly placed on a premise’s curtilage. Gold star to West End Lane Books!

Outside the library we looked at the planting and seating.  It’s sad that this has been neglected since being installed a couple of years ago. Again there is a question of who is responsible for maintaining it.  It was originally installed when the Lib-Dem/Conservatives coalition gave areas the ability to choose projects they wanted, and this was one. Indeed it was very popular in this NDF survey. So it’s shame it’s been neglected.

We also noticed that some of the bus stops and seats were very grubby with an accumulation of dirt that a good jet wash would deal with. If it hasn’t been done by early March, then maybe it’s something for the Great British Spring Clean on March 2-4, 2018.

All in all, things weren’t bad (and better than the Kilburn High Road). But there is still room for improvement, though it remains unclear who is responsible for reporting the problems that do exist.

20 exciting and unusual Christmas presents from West Hampstead

Andy Williams might have sung ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’, but for most of us it’s the rack-our-brains-for-a-present time of the year. If that describes you here are some present ideas from just down the road.

First stop, Seasons the Cookshop, it’s a small independent kitchen store with a really nice range of stock. Popular this Christmas is a very chic set of cheese knives (£17.99), a set of Peugeot salt and pepper grinders (£39.99 normally £31 each) and the ever-stylish Le Creuset mugs (£15). They are also good for stocking fillers for the foodie in your life.

Chic cheese knives (£17.99 with stand, £13.99 without), salt n’ pepper (£39.99) and Le Creuset mug (£15)

Sticking with the food, why not order your whole Christmas dinner?! Crocker’s Folly (the pub in Lisson Grove), which we grant you is a bit outside West Hampstead, is offering Christmas in a hamper – they will cook and deliver a £8kg turkey (enough for 16) a choice of sides, plus mince pies all for £120.

Another local food options is some homemade jams and chutneys from The Well Preserved jam company. They are offering special Christmas packaging and will be at the farmer’s market on Saturday 23rd. Particular favourites of mine include the orange and whiskey, lemon, gin and tonic, and chilli jam but they have a wide selection to suit all tastes.

Crochet your own tie (£11), or toy (£25), mini cross stitch kits (around £10)

New on the block (well new and expanded) is the Village Haberdashery. If you haven’t been up yet (it’s above M&S) do pop up and take a look.

For present ideas, I liked the crochet your own tie kit (£11) – it requires no previous experience and only takes 5 hours (full disclosure, not only did I end up buying one for myself but when I showed it to my most stylish friend, she promptly put it on the list for her son). Other ideas included mini-cross stitch kits (around £10), a crochet your own toy (£25) and an all-the-rage-on Instagram mini wall-hanging set (£14.95 for the kit and £14.95 for the wool).

They also offer a variety of classes and workshops (£45 to £95, more for multi-day courses). And not just sewing (although they do have those too – including with Charlotte Newland (winner of the Great British Sewing Bee)). Other workshops include modern calligraphy and lino printing. How about offering a workshop place as a present?

If you would rather try something different then how about a pottery taster course with Freya Bramble-Carter? She was a contestant on this year’s Great Pottery Throw Down and has a studio (actually she shares it with her father) in the Kingsgate Workshops. They offer Saturday afternoon taster courses (£45), Sunday morning taster courses for teens (£30), and adult four-week pottery courses (£150).

Or what about a luxury sleeping bag from West Hampstead based Sleeping Beauties? They come in a range of boho – but tasteful- patterns and each one (singles £64.99) includes not only a matching pillowcase but also (matching) eyeshade. How chic! And for Christmas, they are introducing a double sleeping bag (£139.99). Orders can be collected from the Village Haberdashery to make life simple. How did you survive at Latitude without one?

Persons Unknown, How Not To Be A Boy, The Art of Failing, & Cats of West Hampstead. (Not shown Little Me).

Being a literary crowd, books are always a popular choice and so what’s on the shelves at West End Lane Books? Of course, any book is available – with a smile, but we thought of these four West Hampstead options; Robert Webb’s ‘How Not To Be A Boy’ (signed copies in again this week), Susie Steiner’s ‘Person’s Unknown’, Anthony McGowan’s ‘The Art of Failing’ and for cat-lovers (or dogs) ‘The Cats of West Hampstead’ and if I could squeeze in another one, ‘Little Me’ by Matt Lucas.

Another popular local choice for presents is Achillea on Mill Lane, which is offering some stunning door wreaths at the moment (£35 to £65) and table ornaments. However, from time to time they also offer workshops (£100) – they next one is in March, just before Mother’s day, on ‘dressing the Spring table’ and includes making a Spring centrepiece. Christmas and Mother’s Day present in one. Result!

Finally, not to forget the Sheriff Centre which has a good selection of kids presents and stocking fillers.  So there you are, plenty of present ideas all in West Hampstead, both objects and also ‘experiences’. Merry Christmas!

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 a payment for development elsewhere. Previous schemes have offered about 35% affordable housing. The developers claim that as a care-home they are not legally obliged – but even if they were, according to their sums they couldn’t afford it!

A quick recap

There have been three planning applications for this site over the past eight years. Gondar Gardens is designated a site of importance for nature conservation (it has Camden’s only population of slow worms). Developer Linden Homes’ first scheme proposed 16 houses built low in the cavity of the old reservoir (the ‘pit’  or ‘Teletubbies’ scheme) with an off-site affordable housing contribution of £6.8 million. The second proposal was to build along the frontage of Gondar Gardens (the ‘frontage’ scheme’), which was turned down as the design wasn’t good enough. A revised frontage scheme was submitted for 28 flats, or which 10 were affordable plus a small additional off-site contribution. This scheme was approved on appeal and thus we all expected that Linden Homes would build this scheme and that would be that.

There’s a new developer on the scene

Instead, Linden Homes sold the site to a new developer, LifeCare Residences (LCR). LCR, which started in New Zealand, builds what it terms “exceptional retirement communities”. Here in the UK, it has one in Hampshire and another in Battersea. In West Hampstead, it’s proposing to build Persephone Gardens. Classicists will know that Persephone is the Queen of the Underworld. Odd choice of reference for a retirement village.

For Gondar Gardens, LCR proposes 82 self-care retirement apartments with a total residential floor space of 7,662m2. The flats include 7 one-bedroom, 62 two-bedroom and 13 three-bedroom flats.  The total floor space of the whole development is 14,088m2 – almost double the floor space of the previous two schemes combined. Both of the previous schemes included about 35% affordable housing, although Camden’s (rarely achieved) target is 50%.

If this new scheme followed its predecessors, one would expect at least 30-40 affordable flats. But the plans show that none at all are proposed – nor is there any off-site contribution.

LCR is, however, building extra facilities for the residents on site because it is a retirement home, including a 15-bed nursing home. But it also plans ‘communal’ facilities – and what facilities: a lounge, a library, a restaurant and bar, and a café, an indoor exercise and rehabilitation pool, a gym. Wow! That’s a lot, you’re thinking. There is more: a hair salon, treatment rooms (of course), the sun lounge and, oh yes, a cinema. And of course a whole host of back-of-house areas for the staff.

The chauffeur-driven cars on site have already raised a few eyebrows. The development will be car-free, so LCR is planning to have chauffer-driven BMW i3s, like at its Battersea site, at the beck and call of residents, and for those who want to be ferried around in more comfort, a couple of Audi A8s too.

Are you beginning to notice something all the residents have in common?

If this all sounds rather luxurious, that it is the intention. Comparing the flat sizes to Mayor of London’s recommended size for new developments, LCR’s are generously proportioned. The flats are substantially bigger than the recommended size for flats in the London plan; e.g. the one-beds are 69m2 vs a recommended 50m2; the two-bed and three bedroom flats similarly generous.

The architects Robin Partington stated in the Design and Access statement: LCR’s brief requires the apartments to be larger than national space standards. Residents are typically downsizing from big family homes, and although there are only 1-2 people living in each apartment, space is appreciated to maintain their way of life and house their belongings“.

Finally, a non-white face in the promo images – he’s a waiter!

The luxury nature of the development is reflected also in the viability statement: “In the assessment of market values, which have been provided by Savills we understand that the specification of the common parts and apartments will be of a very high quality and reflective of the luxury retirement living that the scheme will deliver.

Why no affordable housing?

The first argument is a bit technical and has to do with use classes. LCR states that the flats should be designated as class C2 (hospital or nursing home) rather than C3 (housing). It’s understandable that the 15-bed nursing home would be C2, but the 82 flats? One common way to determine if a property is C2 or C3, is the ‘front door test’. If residents have their own lockable front door, then the flats should be C3, and it seems that would be the case here in these generous flats. To get around this definition, LCR will offer a couple of hours of assistance per week, whether the residents want it or not.

This approach has been tried before. Another retirement home developer, Pegasus Life, tried the same idea for the equally luxurious Hampstead Green Place on Rowland Hill in Hampstead. It argued the housing was C2 (offering 1.5 hours of care a week) but lost the argument and the 60 flats are being built as C3.

The other argument used by LCR is the standard plea of poverty – or at least too low a profit margin.

Linden Homes bought the site from Thames Water for £3 million, and those proposals allowed for £6.8 million to affordable housing in the first scheme and 10 affordable flats in the second. Linden Homes sold the site to LCR for £11 million according to the Land Registry records.

What does the viability statement say?

*Warning it’s going to get a bit complicated here, but bear with us, it’s important*

LCR commissioned property consultancy Rapleys to write a viability report to submit with the planning application. It’s hard to follow as it’s redacted, but it is possible to make some educated guesses as to what the numbers might add up to on a development of this scale, with the help of industry insiders.

To reach its conclusion, Rapleys had to calculate the “residual land value”, which is Gross Development Value (basically “revenue from the sale of flats”) minus costs, planning contributions, and profit (typically assessed at around 20%). This is then compared to an appropriate benchmark value to assess the viability of affordable housing contributions.

Let’s do the sums.

First, the gross development value. To calculate this, we need to know how much private flats like these would be worth? We have a  good benchmark with the high-end West Hampstead Square development, which also has some amenities (though nothing in the league of the proposal from LCR). Gondar Gardens is further from the stations, which makes it cheaper, but also not between two train lines. On balance it’s easy to argue Gondar Gardens would sell for more than West Hampstead Square, but WH Square will be a good benchmark. On this basis (looking at recent resales), a 69m2 one-bed flat in Gondar Gardens would be £825,000, a two-bed 90m2 flat £995,000, and a three-bed flat a cool £1.35 million.

(Interestingly, in nearby Hampstead, Pegasus Life is marketing two posh retirement schemes although with fewer amenities. Nevertheless, at one of these schemes, the cheapest two-bed flat is on for £2.95 million, so we may we wildly underestimating Gondar Gardens).

Sticking with the Ballymore equivalents, the sale of the flats would generate approximately £85 million. The fifteen extra care beds have a market value, like all care-home beds, of about £295,000 each, so are valued at £4.5 million. Adding the two together gives a total gross development value of £89 million.

Now we need to look at the costs of development. Rapleys don’t disclose the construction costs but based on this nearby scheme (which is equally modern, but a bit less posh), we estimate construction costs for a development like LCR’s would be about £2,500/m2 for the 14,088m2. This is perhaps the number with the most margin for error in our calculations given that just under half of the development is taken up with all those facilities. However, LCR is effectively arguing that building all these extra luxury facilities means it won’t have any money to build affordable housing.  By comparison, a normal housing development would have 10-15% of ancillary space (corridors, communal areas etc).

In total, we estimate build costs of around £35 million. Add to that a 5% contingency (£1.75 million), professional fees at 10% of costs (£3.5 million) and marketing fees – 2% of GDV to sell the flats (£1.6 million).

Then there are community infrastructure levy (CIL) costs (this is the money that developers pay local councils and City Hall to help offset the additional public sector costs incurred by having more people and development in the area). Normally CIL is calculated on the increase in residential floor space, as this is the driver of any additional strain on local resources. For Gondar Gardens, LCR is arguing that the increase in area is 9,242m2, not 14,088m2, using the empty and derelict reservoir space of 4,866m2 as the “existing use”. There is a clear change of use, so it’s not clear why LCR does not using the full 14,088m2 to calculate their contribution.

Under its proposal, Camden would receive a CIL contribution of £2,310,500 and City Hall would take £462,100 (if the full development area was used, there would be an additional £2 million of combined CIL due).

Revenue minus costs, therefore, is calculated as £89 million less build costs of £35 million, a contingency of £1.75 million, marketing fees of £1.6 million, professional fees of £3.5 million and a total CIL of £2.75 million. That gives a gross profit of £44.m million. The accepted 20% profit margin of the GDV is £17.7 million, which leaves a residual land value of £26.7 million. The numbers are obviously not exact but our industry insiders agree this is a good ballpark figure.

This residual land value basically translates to “extra profit”, which means that it’s where contributions to affordable housing would come from. Recall, that based on a much smaller scheme, Linden Homes was offering a contribution of more than £6 million. If LCR was to make a contribution then using the calculations from the Pegasus schemes in Hampstead (for which Rapleys also produced the viability report) it would deliver a £10.6 million contribution.

Yet below is their redacted claim that they can’t afford any affordable housing contribution.

Our estimate of the residual land value of £26.7 million is considerably more than the £11 million LCR paid for the site. Even if we deduct an affordable housing contribution of £10 million (which, LCR claims it can’t afford), that would still leave a residual value of £16.7 million – still more than the cost of buying the site. Even if our building costs are wrong, they would have to be substantial underestimations to soak up all this residual value. It is therefore hard to understand how no affordable housing contribution at all is deemed viable. Perhaps the expected sale value of the flats is far lower than comparable schemes.

LCR/Rapleys instructed Carter Jonas to carry out an independent valuation of the site to form the benchmark value. They don’t disclose this, but obviously it would be interesting to know how it compares to the £11 million that LCR paid for the site (bear in mind also, that the site comes with planning permission for the revised frontage scheme and its £6.8 million affordable housing contribution).

LCR told us that that have commissioned a further independent assessment of the assessment and were in discussion with Camden’s appointed surveyor, but had no further comment.

Conclusion

This proposal illustrates a significant flaw in the planning system that gives an advantage to developers of luxury retirement schemes. First, such developers are incentivised to claim such schemes are care home and not housing, even if they pass the front door test. Then, the more luxurious they make it and the more ancillary facilities they offer (and have to pay for), the more they can avoid making any affordable housing contribution.

This analysis has also been an interesting insight into the Alice-in-Wonderland economics of viability reporting. It’s important stuff, but too often developers deploy smoke and mirrors around the planning department and unless at least some members of the public understand what is going on developers get away with it. Why, for example, should so many of the figures be redacted? We had the same situation with Liddell Road, which was publicly owned land and being used partly for a public amenity.

Part of this is due to the merry-go-round of a developer buying a site and getting planning permission for one scheme and then selling it on to another, ratching up the base value. One reason for the planning system is to capture some of the financial gain when land is redesignated for another use. Yet it appears developers can drive a chauffer-drive BMWi3 though that objective.

Baby boomers lucky enough to have bought their houses in the 1970s and 80s and have made huge windfall gains. They now get sell them and move into luxury retirement flats that avoid the requirement to build affordable housing. A competing developer that was building ordinary flats for young people and young hard-working families would have to build affordable housing. Sorry, Generation Rent, it’s heads you lose, tails they win.

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.

We don’t have to credit Tim Mossholder for the image, but we would like to. Seasons greetings Tim!

On Saturday 9th, from 7.30-9.30 pm is the Hampstead Chorus Autumn concert with Gabriel Faure’s Requiem, Francis Poulenc’s Gloria and The Heavens and the Heart by James Francis Brown. They sing at UCS and you can get tickets here.

For something a little lighter, on Thursday 14th at 7.30 pm in Emmanuel Church – and with some audience participation – the Fortune Green choir is holding its concert with a guest appearance from Cantereas (a vocal ensemble based in West Hampstead). It should be a really nice concert, and it is raising money for the Mayor of Camden’s chosen charity – C4WS, the homeless charity that operates out of Emmanuel Church. The Mayor will be attending. The suggested donation is £5 (with mulled wine and mince pies afterwards).

If you’re after something a bit more serious, then on Saturday 16th, the Hampstead Chamber Choir is celebrating a European Christmas, also in Emmanuel Church. Audience participation in the carols here too. Tickets are £12.

Something for the younger residents?

On Saturday 9th at the Community Centre is a holiday gifts workshop. Make a present for granny, she will love it! And who knows your kid might even make it into the John Lewis ad next year…

Then on Wedensday 14th, the ever-popular Sherriff Centre Panto is back. Oh, no it isn’t. Oh, yes it… save me from this please. But it is already fully booked – oh no it isn… yes, yes it is. This year it is Sleeping Beauty.

For the even younger residents, there is a not-very-Christmassy-but-who-cares Baby Broadway concert on Saturday 16th at 11 am in Emmanuel Church. You can get tickets here.

Something a bit more entertaining?

On Monday 11th at West End Lane Books, Nina Stibbe will read from “An Almost Perfect Christmas”. It’s at 7.30 pm and free, but is also a chance to pick up a copy of the book (and pay for it too, obvs). Looks like quite a nice stocking filler/Christmassy present. (Please reserve a place).

The JW3 Icerink opened again on the 3rd and will be open until Sunday, January 7th. It’s closed on Sabbaths but will be open on the 25th and 26th December so something to do on Christmas day or Boxing day to work off the calories. And oddly, it’s sponsored by a … firm of accountants!

On Monday 18th at the Alliance, it’s the Christmas offering from Locally Sourced with actress Annette Badland and an anthology of seasonal delights. She’s a familiar face on TV (and voice on radio – she’s  Hazel on the Archers!) Also appearing will be pianist Kat Gillham and baritone Phil Wilcox, so expect some Christmas melodies. This could be a lot of fun.

With the closure of the Good Ship, things comedic do seem a little thin on the ground in the ‘hood, however, something new(ish) on the radar is the London Improv theatre. They have what looks like some really good events coming up. Starting with… “God, the Untold Story” , on December 5th, 6th and 7th.

I liked the look of the Glenda J collective on Friday 15th, but it’s… you guessed it, sold out.

Also on the bill is Slattery Night Fever on Saturdays December 16th and 23rd. Booking recommended to see one of the original Whose Line is it Anyway greats.

Indeed, there is a whole host of other events including Improv Friday with a double bill of the Inflatables/Music Box. Last time I went, a group of mates sitting next to me had been to celebrate a friend’s birthday and these seem like go-with-a-couple-of-mates kind of things to do.

Finally, it’s not very Christmassy but the current Camden Arts Centre exhibitions are worth seeing both Natalie du Pasquier and Christian Nyampeta. A nice destination for an afternoon walk, and there is a rather good café too!

So there you are good dozen suggestions of things to do this month. We’ll cover the Christmas services separately.

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 grew up in north London. His full name is Prodromos Prodromou, which sounds exotic to Anglo-Saxon ears, until you realise that the English equivilent would be John Johnson.

Always a cheery welcome at the Mill Lane Barbers.

Before setting up his own business Prod was a freelance barber. Fifteen years ago, yes it’s been that long since it first opened, Prod decided to open his own barbershop on Mill Lane. Over time he’s been joined in his team by Vas and George.

What brought you to West Hampstead?
“To be honest it was my wife, or more correctly at the time girlfriend. She was living in Brondesbury Park and we would come over here for dinner or a coffee. I just liked the feel of the area, it was a good, busy area.

So when I was thinking of opening my own barbershop it was the obvious choice. I was (and still am) living in Finchley which was saturated with barbers. Here in West Hampstead, although there were quite a few hairdressers, there were fewer barbering options so I thought it would be good place to open up.

My aim was to make it a simple, but good quality gent’s barbers. I didn’t want to be on West End Lane, the rents were too high and it wasn’t necessary, so I settled on Mill Lane and am glad I did.”

What was your first memory of the area?
“My first memories are what drew me here –  that, even though West Hampstead is so close to the city,  it had (and has) a strong local community where people know each other.

As for places, I have fond memories of Upstairs Downstairs cafe, which was a favourite haunt of my wife. It’s on the corner where Firezza Pizza is now.”

What has surprise you the most about how West Hampstead has changed?
“Many of the independents, the smaller more interesting businesses, have gone and the big boys have arrived.

Every spare bit of space has been developed. I remember the old pub and shops up by Fortune Green, which is now Alfred Court. Likewise all the developments down by the station mean West Hampstead is even more densely populated. This also means more barbers and coffee shops, but more potential clients too – we are still doing OK.”

An action-packed day at MLB

What’s for lunch?
“Normally, I bring in something from home. Otherwise of course I miss the Kitchen Table, where I would sometimes get some lunch. However, I like our new neighbours at the Mill Café. They even open at 8am for breakfast, which is earlier than the Kitchen Table, so I pop in every now and then. Actually, the food is really good, it’s really worth a visit.”

Describe West Hampstead in three words?
Busy, developing and affluent

Anything else to add?
“Well, my main bugbear is the rubbish! (Ed – why am I not surprised). It’s not easy running a business on Mill Lane and it doesn’t help to have mounds of rubbish along the road. I’ll often mutter to myself or tweet about it. But I’ve tailed off a bit recently as it gets boring, and maybe things are also slightly better. Still some way to go though.”

Nazanin calls from prison during rally on West End Green

West End Green was packed on Saturday as the community turned out to support a rally and march calling for the release of  local mum Nazanin Zagahari-Ratcliffe. The rally was organised by Pramstead Facebook users group, to deliver this letter, which has now had over 10,000 signatures calling for Nazanin’s release. It was arranged for the 25th November, one month before Christmas, in the hope that she will be back in time to celebrate it with daughter Gabriella and husband Richard.

Great turnout to support freedom for Nazanin

The prime movers behind it were Pramstead members Kirstie, Charlotte and Caroline. As Kirstie put it “it’s important that I don’t actually know Nazanin, but she is a mum and I am a mum, so I can’t imagine what Nazanin is going through”.

Supporters, young and old, were out in force

There was a great turnout for the event. Among the people turning out was local actor Emma Thompson, who defied doctors orders to be there. Indeed, as she had pneumonia, her speech was relayed by her husband Greg Wise. Another mum who spoke was local MP Tulip Siddiq, there along with husband Chris and (toddler) Azalea. Tulip has been a strong supporter of Richard’s campaign for justice, pressing Boris Johnson to act.

Emma speaking via Greg

Finally, Nazanin’s husband Richard spoke passionately, emotionally, yet calmly about how profoundly moved he was to see such widespread support from the community for Nazanin’s release. Then Richard, Emma and Tulip led the crowd in a quick rendition of Nazanin and Gabriella’s favorite song – “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!”

“If you are happy and you know it clap your hands”

There was a large contingent of press there covering the event; BBC news, The Ham & HighLBC, the Guardian, the Daily Mailthe Sunday TimesSky News and even Sky News Arabia.

A large press presence

Incredibly Nazanin was able to call from prison during the rally to speak to Richard and Tulip. She echoed Richard in saying how  grateful she was for everyone’s support; she really hopes to be home for Christmas (and is preparing Gabriella, just in case) and according to Tulip, when back she and Gabriella will take a long planned trip to Peppa Pig Land! You can hear the call here.

Also there were friends and colleagues from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, including chief executive Monique Villa who said how fantastic it was to have such a great turnout for the event.

What do we want? Freedom for Nazanin. When do we want it? Now!

During the morning, at Nazanin’s express wish there was a collection for the victims of the recent Iranian earthquake as Nazanin had helped out in the aftermath of previous earthquake. The group all went into Emmanuel Church for some tea and cake, and shortly afterwards, fortified by the cake, hundreds set off on the the march down West End Lane to deliver the letter to the Islamic Centre in Maida Vale.

Marchers setting off down West End Lane

Nazanin spent her 600th day in prison on Thursday this past week and has another court hearing scheduled for 10th December. Let’s hope that today’s rally helps maintain the momentum for her release. The next planned event is 5:30pm on Tues 5th December when Richard and supporters will gather outside 10 Downing Street to sing carols. Please come and join him.

Mt Rushmore

From Kilburn to Mount Rushmore: The story of Gutzon Borglum

Mt Rushmore

Mount Rushmore: Photo by Brian Sandoval on Unsplash

It’s Thanksgiving in America, so what better time to dig into the link between Kilburn and the man behind one of the most iconic landmarks in the US.

American artist and sculptor Gutzon Borglum lived and worked at Harlestone Villa in Mortimer Road, Kilburn from about 1897 to 1902. The property was later renumbered as 6 Mortimer Place but was damaged in 1944 by the V1 flying bomb which destroyed North Hall, the house next door. Both buildings were demolished and today the site is covered by Halliwell House on the Kilburn Gate estate.

While at Harlestone Villa, Borglum painted murals for private homes but he is best known as the sculptor who produced the giant heads of US presidents carved into the summit of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

Gutzon Borglum in 1919

Born in a frontier town in Idaho in 1867, Borglum was of Danish extraction. His father was a Mormon with two wives who were sisters. Borglum ran away from home to study art in California, and at the Julien Academy and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he was influenced by Rodin.

He arrived in London in 1896 and rented a studio in West Kensington before moving to Kilburn. Although gaining recognition as an artist he was not earning a lot of money. He said, “I have had the disturbing pleasure of being called Master by the French critics and some Americans, yet at the moment I cannot spend sixpence without wondering where the next one will come from.”

In 1901, the daughter of a Californian friend came to stay at Harlestone Villa. Her name was Isadora Duncan and at a party she danced for Borglum on the villa’s large lawn, scattering rose petals behind her.

Borglum received a commission for twelve painted panels to be installed in the Midland Railway Company’s new hotel in Manchester. The fee was five thousand guineas (today worth about £550,000). In 1903 he supervised installation of the panels which were made in America. They depicted scenes from ‘A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream’ and the court of King Arthur.

Returning to America, Borglum became a very successful sculptor. His politics were crude; he was anti-immigrant and a racist. He criticised other artists and even called for the destruction of a public statue. Borglum courted the press and they loved him. In 1915 he put his reputation on the line and promised to make a huge monument to Southern Confederacy at Stone Mountain in Georgia. His patrons, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, did not have sufficient funds so he mortgaged his 500-acre estate in Connecticut. But after ten years he had completed less than a tenth of the carving and was fired by the Stone Mountain Association, accused of wasteful expenditure and having an ungovernable temper. The Association claimed ownership of his models and put out a warrant for Borglum’s arrest. He destroyed the models and became a fugitive, deeply in debt and publicly humiliated.

Doane Robinson, a South Dakota historian, had read about the large numbers of people travelling to Georgia just to watch Borglum at work. He believed that a mountain carving could put the little known South Dakota on the map. He wrote to Borglum suggesting a project in the Black Hills, perhaps carvings of the western explorers Lewis and Clark, Buffalo Bill and Chief Red Cloud. Borglum replied that national heroes would be better and it should be the Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt (a personal friend of Borglum). But the attempt to raise $50,000 as seed money from the public only realised $5,000. The project became a joke. One paper said, “Borglum is about to destroy another mountain, thank God it is in South Dakota where no one will ever see it.”

President Calvin Coolidge was persuaded to spend a summer holiday in South Dakota and this helped raise the total to $42,000. Coolidge pledged the government would provide additional funds. In 1929, Borglum began work with only about a tenth of the money he needed. He didn’t even know if the project was feasible as it was 500 feet to the top of Mount Rushmore and the weather in winter would make work impossible. Using jack hammers and dynamite Borglum thought the figures would take four years to complete. But money ran out and work slowed down.

In 1931 the Rushmore Association was in debt with little chance of raising any further funds during the Depression. Worse was to follow, after a severe drought created the Dustbowl. People left the state in droves and work stopped completely in 1932. Borglum and Senator Peter Norbeck persuaded influential contacts to obtain federal funds from the National Park Service and work recommenced after a year’s delay. Borglum’s 21 year old son Lincoln, who was very popular with the 400 workmen, was the site supervisor when his father was away.

In March 1941, just as he was completing the sculptures, Gutzon Borglum died suddenly from complications after surgery. He was 73. Congress stopped all funding as the United States joined the Second Wolrd War that December but Borglum’s son Lincoln finished the project, which had taken 14 years and involved removing half a million tons of granite to form the four 60-feet high figures.

Here is a film showing Gutzon Borglum working on the mountain:

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 already runs the successful Brook Green Market and Kitchen about setting something up. The market will be at the Sainsbury’s end of the car park (on the ‘bus stop’ side) but you won’t be able to miss it – there will be more than 20 stalls, including:

  • Astons Organic Bakery
  • Dee’s Pies
  • Popina Bakery (a familiar face from the Saturday market)
  • Mini Crops (oh so trendy micro greens, sadly not at micro prices)
  • Wild Country Organics (another familiar face from our Saturday market)
  • Woodlands Jersey Beef (beef from Hampshire’s Meon valley)
  • Picks Organic Farm (for those other meats)
  • The Mushroom Table (biodynamic mushrooms – for the biodynamic man – or woman, in your life)

For you homesick Europeans there are a range of European stalls (buy now, before Brexit tariffs)

  • La Contrada (Italian cheese and hams)
  • L’Ami Jac (French wines selected by a Scotsman)
  • Montadito (Spanish foods)
  • The Olive Bar (anti-Brexit, antipasti from across Europe)
  • Nonya Secrets (from further afield, Malay/Singaporean sauces)
  • Quickes Cheese (cloth-bound cheddar)
  • Pep and Lekker (vegan and gluten-free soups)

If you are bit peckish on the day they will have a few stalls selling food to eat then and there:

  • Ede and Bibe (Italian street food)
  • Fruiliamo (Northern Italian street food – mainly vegan/gluten free)
  • The Three Little Pigs (BBQ’d meats in pitta wraps)
  • Rocks (Shellfish cooked on charcoal)
  • Picks Organic Meats (yes the same ones as above, they also sell hot sausages etc)

Looks like quite an interesting selection. And if all that isn’t enough, as at their Brook Green market there will be events such as gin week, butchery workshops, and cheese & wine demos.

London Farmer’s Markets had its own plans for a Sunday market but that planning application has since been withdrawn, so 255 Finchley Road has well and truly stolen a march on them. The new market may well attract a slightly different crowd from the Iverson Road Saturday market, not least the thousands of extra visitors to the O2 centre/Homebase and residents living up and down the Finchley Road. The market will be open 10am to 3pm on Sundays.

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 confirmation she was spying. He apologised and may be going to Tehran along with Richard, Nazanin’s husband.  Michael Gove is coming under fire on the issue.

Richard is also very concerned about his wife’s mental and physical health, with recent discoveries of lumps in her breast.

Another West Hampstead sunset thanks to StevieJLowy

A West Hampstead mum, suffering from cancer, was overwhelmed by a crowdfunding drive to raise money for childcare costs for her twins. It’s reached £8,000 with a target of £10,000. You can donate here.

Bienvenue Maison de la Vie (new cafe on the KHR).

Gung Ho, the chinese restaurant, is being reduced in size, apparently part of it will become an architect’s office.

We have heard that Salt House on Abbey Road has been sold to property developers.

A planning application has gone in to redevelop the Gondar Gardens reservoir (the fourth or fifth…) into luxury retirement flats (with an in-house chauffeur service). More on this next week.

There are moves afoot to rename the Minster Road Nature Reserve after Jane Evans who did so much to get it set up.

Anyone seen this earring?

Dexter the cat was found!

Gay West Hampstead 1. Joe Orton lived on West End Lane with Kenneth Halliwell (and for much longer than he lived in Islington)

Gay West Hampstead 2. Keith Vaughan artist, lived on Lyncroft Gardens. His photos are the subject of an exhibtion.

Paddington 2 opened to applause all round (think the Friends of Fortune Green has its movie for next August sorted!). The voice of Aunt Lucy is West Hampstead’s own Imelda Staunton.

Happy 100th birthday to West Hampstead resident Norah. She recalls back in the 1930s, West End Lane had ‘three butchers, a dairy and a haberdashery’. No change then – we still do: Brinkworth Dairy and the butchers at the farmers’ market + two permanent butchers and .. the Village Haberdashery).

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 leader of Camden Council. Apparently, it is not the first time it has happened outside the back of Sainsburys in the O2. Be vigilant.

Other phones were snatched outside Little Waitrose and in a new twist someone had their headphones snatched

Those famous West Hampstead skies were back this week. This one spotted by KateGleeson1

There’s still a long way to go before everyone’s going to be satisfied by the new rubbish and recycling contract (hint: communication is critical, as the comment below the article makes clear).

Remember, remember that there’s lots to do in November. Here are 12 things to get you started. With a couple of extras for good measure.

Monday was not a good day for transport… there was a crash by the Overground station (it was a BMW) and one on the Kilburn High road too!

And over on the Thameslink morning travel were disrupted by TWO broken down trains, one at Farringdon (which took over an hour to sort out). There was further disruption on Tuesday and Wednesday … and Friday. Sigh.

A man reported being raped after being followed from Finchley Road Tube station.

Boris Johnson condemned Iran for detaining West Hampstead mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. The petition calling for her release has reached more than a million signatures. Yes, more than 1 million. Have you signed yet?

And in coffee shop news this one is up for rent and there is a new French one opening on the Kilburn High Road. Oh-la-la.

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

Who does this leave this apparently never ending supply? wondered Mandira Bhimjiyani? (and WHL too).

WHAT held its public meeting on rubbish and recycling. We know it is an issue dear to your hearts but seems that while lots of you can tweet the tweet, coming to a public meeting was a bit too much of a commitment … Still, it was a good turnout and those that were there, although sympathetic to recycling and terribly polite, gave Camden and Veolia a thorough grilling. More details next week.

A couple of events for Halloweentreats (and maybe face-painting) on offer by Fortune Green or how about decorating a chocolate skull? (cost involved)

The Good Ship closed, but fortunately, its popular comedy club has sailed over the Colonel Fawcett in Camden.

Georgia Gould the new leader of Camden Council has been out and about in sunny West Hampstead.

West Hampstead resident (and Countdown champ) James Slater has been selected to stand as a Labour candidate for Hampstead ward, and at 19 he’s the youngest candidate.

Work began on La Brioche – apparently it’s going to have a brunch focus during the day and then become a restaurant at night. So nothing at all like its next-door neighbour The Wet Fish Café then.

Someone ‘clocked’ that at long last Lena’s Cafe 2 is reopening under a new name… Salad and coffee apparently.

It was a Whampdinner – they really are great fun. If you want a fun night out, with good food and meet some cool new people, sign up. If you don’t, then don’t. (next Whampevent is a Whampdrinks on the 30th Nov).

Newest arrivals on Fortune Green… a plumbers merchants and ….an(other) estate agent.

A teenager (16) was convicted of the shooting of Yasir Beshira last December in Kilburn. A 21 year-old accomplice from West Hampstead was also convicted of the murder. Another defendent was found guilty of manslaughter.

More about the man stabbed in that terrible phone theft incident in Little Venice his alleged killers were arrested in West Hampstead.

It was the Community Associations quiz night in Emmanuel Church.

As if we don’t already have enough trainlines, there is a suggestion that HS2 runs via … West Hampstead!

Ever wondered what it was like to be an older person using local buses?

Mill Lane was resurfaced and for a few brief moments was truly ‘car-free’.

The Friends of Library put on an EXCELLENT evening with Graham Gouldman.

Property madness 1. Wanna buy an ex-council house? It’s only £1.2 million. better hurry though. it’s under offer…

Property madness 2. This guy spotted an empty house in West Hampstead. And it earned him £10k! Though apparently it wasn’t actually empty and now the tenants are being asked to leave.

Property (not madness) LSE have digitised Booth’s map of London poverty. West Hampstead is on the edge, it was mostly ‘Middle class. Well-to-do’, ‘Fairly comfortable. Good ordinary earnings’ with some ‘Mixed. Some comfortable others poor’. No change really.

Camden is submitting a bid to be the London Borough of Culture at the end of November. Now is your chance to have a say.

WHL went to Amnesty UK’s performance of ‘Looking for Mummy’; the dramatisation of West Hampstead resident Nazanin Zaghari-Ratclilffe’s imprisonment. It was an excellent and moving portrayal of complex issue.

And another (younger) West Hampstead resident received a letter. So what you wonder? Well, it was from Paddington Bear!

Coming up this week

After a bumper week last week – as you can see from the newsletter, a bit quieter this week.  But keep and eye out for ’10 things to do in November ‘.

Tues 31st Oct – Halloween! (see above)

Wed 1st Nov. – Mark Forsyth on a “Short History of Drunkeness at WEL books. Might include glass of wine (geddit).

Good Ship Comedy sets sail for new home in Camden

Sad times on Monday night in Kilburn as the Good Ship hosted its final Monday-night comedy gig. The Good Ship closes this weekend after changes to its licence has made it unprofitable and forced owner John McCooke to sell.

Monday night comedy was a core part of the formative years  of the West Hampstead community initiative I began in 2009. Thus it seemed fitting for a few of us to return on Monday to say farewell. It was a busy night. A great line up kicked off by Matt Winning (if you don’t know him – go see him), with local favourite Jay Foreman on the bill as well as one-time hosts Jonny & the Baptists. Angela Barnes will go down in comedy history as the woman who closed the final night – and she did a storming set.

Angela Barnes headlines the last night of Monday night comedy

The Good Ship always had a special place in my West Hampstead heart. For a couple of years around 2011/2012, a constantly evolving group of locals – initially loosely coordinated by me, but increasingly just turning up because they’d know someone there – would head along for an evening of (mostly) high-quality comedy hosted then by the irrepressible Juliet Stephens.

The Good Ship was a different sort of comedy night: low-key, friendly, light on the heckling, rich on the applause – and it even had a weekly raffle, free with your ticket entry. It attracted a mixed crowd. At just £4, it was well within the reach of most, so students from the Central School of Speech & Drama in Swiss Cottage were always well represented. But there were also some older people for whom it was clearly a friendly escape.

There were characters like Freddy, who some of you will remember from his stints as our doorman at whampgathers; there were running jokes about Fisk (look it up) and the bag of shit from the poundshop. But newcomers were always warmly welcomed and even the quieter nights were good fun, while the buzzy nights could be a pounding success with laughs reverberating around the pit. It was an integral part of creating a community.

Jay Foreman with his astonishing tube station song

Comedians themselves liked The Good Ship. It was a safe space to try out some new material – on one of my very first visits there Ed Byrne popped in to do 5 minutes – and the Edinburgh preview shows were a ridiculously good value way to see top stand-ups deliver full shows for a fraction of the price you’d pay once they reached Scotland.

Juliet finally moved on and after a few different interim hosts, her place at the helm was confidently taken by Ben Van der Velde, who has masterfully steered the Good Ship Comedy for the past few years. Ben has rebuilt the momentum of the club and kept that friendly vibe. Wonderful news therefore, that even as we mourn the end of the Good Ship, the comedy night will continue from November 6th at a new venue. The Colonel Fawcett pub in Camden will host; the name will remain (hopefully in perpetuity – no-one wants to see “Unfawced Laughter”) and (eek) the price will go up. By £1. Details and tickets here.

It’s going to be a a challenge to rebuild in a new venue, so do go along and support it if you can. The pub is really close to Camden Road overground station, so it’s really no big deal to get there from West Hampstead or Kilburn. The line-ups are just as good but any comedy night is really only as good as its audiences. The Good Ship’s always had one of the best. Long may it sail.

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.

Good turnout and good discussion – it’s a serious issue.

The first speaker, Judy Thomson, is a public safety officer from Camden, who spoke about how the council is trying to tackle the problem at its source by working with disaffected young people in the borough, although with fewer resources than they would like. This involves work on estates, working with the local police and sometimes involves CCTV camera. I had the impression that CCTV was rather cumbersome and limited given the scale of the problem.

Cllr Flick Rea asked about the ‘broken windows theory’, which suggests that something relatively minor like a rise in litter leads to low-level anti-social behavior which then leads to worse. Judy agreed and replied that they absolutely challenge unacceptable behaviour, for example, fly-tipping.

The second speaker was Inspector Richard Berns, who is in charge of neighbourhood policing in Camden. He’s only been in the post for six weeks, as has he has just transferred from Hammersmith and Fulham, before that he was at Harrow Road after seven years in Hackney. However, he knows West Hampstead well as apparently he had a paperround here 25 years ago!

He was refreshingly frank and said that that the problem had “exploded” and that the growth “has taken us a bit by surprise”. Worryingly, more thefts are getting violent – as the arrests earlier this week in Broomsleigh St following the fatal stabbing in Little Venice confirm.

Moped-enabled crime is a problem throughout central London, but Camden (with 4,147 incidents) and Islington (with 3,587 incidents) are the worst affected boroughs though – whatever our perception – the robberies are very much concentrated in the south of the borough. Earlier this year, Camden and Islington forces merged and given the scale of the problem, extra resources are being put behind the issue, with an additional two dedicated two officers bring the team (‘Operation Attrition’) up to thirty. Of course it is at the fore-front of every officer’s mind at the moment. Despite the rise in crime, we can still expect further cuts in police numbers, although Inspector Berns said “these would be due to natural wastage”.

One audience member asked if road checks would help contain the issue but Inspector Berns was skeptical, suggesting that the criminals would simply avoid them and drive away. The mopeds they use are stolen and are seen as being practically disposable by the criminals. Once they are stolen any identifying marks are filed down and number plates removed. Look out for mopeds with no number plates then.

There was some cynicism in the audience about whether it was even worth calling the police to report crime. One audience member, Simon Benson, was recently mugged, had his wallet stolen and – thanks to his driving licence (and address) being in his wallet, had his car stolen too. The police response was to close the file just 53 minutes after he reported the crime. Inspector Berns agreed this was very poor service, “It was just not good enough”.

Inspector Berns was frank and honest about the scale of the problem.

Berns also confessed that calling 101 – the non-emergency number – is “not very good at the moment” and he was unaware that it is not a free call (it costs 15p per call, the money goes to the telecom companies, not the government). He said that he thinks some crimes don’t get reported as members of the public give up. Another way of reporting low-level stuff was to tweet @Metcc, the Met’s contact centre (8am-10pm).

He dismissed the myth that the police are not allowed to chase suspects, although he clarified that it does depend on the severity of the crime. The stabbing this week was met with a heavy and successful response. He was also asked whether crimes were actually investigated or not and bluntly said, “If they solvable then we will, if not solvable we won’t”.

iPhone users are most at risk from theft – they account for two-thirds of stolen phones, and the problem could get worse with the iPhone X as this will retail for more than £1,000. Even with anti-theft technology the screen alone will be worth £400 so a stolen phone could be used for parts. There is however, no typical profile of a theft victim.

How can you protect yourself?
An obvious simple step is to listen out for the sound of mopeds approaching, they make a distinctive sound. If you see someone standing outside a station looking at their phone, remind them of the risk. Avoid using your phone in public as you walk along and could be vulnerable, and make sure your phone is backed up and secured.

Cllr Russell – herself a recent victim of a break-in – questioned Inspector Berns on local crime figures, which show an apparent year-on-year rise of 38% in Fortune Green and 28% in West Hampstead. Inspector Burns said this was inline with his figures that showed crime figures in Camden and Islington were up 28%, with a national increase of 13%. Nor are these just petty crimes, serious crime is also on the up – and Berns pointed out that for most of his career crime has fallen, so this is new territory for many in the police.

Odd then, perhaps, that the Safer Neighbourhood office on West End Lane will close, as the lease will not be renewed in 2019. But the teams will apparently be moving into West Hampstead police station on Fortune Green Road.

The evening ended with a good point from WHAT chair Mary Tucker, who reflected that TfL is removing ‘countdown’ displays from bus stops as people are now encouraged to check the times on their phones. In public, by the road. Just as we’re telling people to keep their phones hidden. This chimed with an earlier observation that the police and local authorities are looking at putting in bollards and street furniture on estates and alleyways to act as an obstruction, despite having just taken it away to ‘de-clutter’ the streetscape.

Inspector Berns confirmed that crime is on the rise. It is still, as Cllr Olszewski pointed out, relatively low but in our local area we have gone quickly from below the London average to being the average (and the average is rising). Last night was a well organised and well-chaired meeting. It was good to have councillors, the police, local residents all in one room because it is only by working together that we can tackle this. Inspector Berns was refreshingly honest and frank, and perhaps more importantly, came across as competent. He too was pleased with how the meeting went. Let us hope that some increased vigilance from locals and continued work by the police can bring this mini crime wave to an abrupt end.

Two arrested in moped incident on Broomsleigh Street

Residents of Broomsleigh Street were woken in the middle of the night by the sound of police helicopters and cars in action. The police were chasing two suspects on a moped who had been involved in a mobile snatch earlier in the night, that had involved a stabbing. The suspects were 17 and 18 years old.

Man being arrested at the incident last night. Picture: @leocodron

Shortly before midnight a 28-year-old man was stabbed and killed as he resisted when attackers tried to snatch his iPhone outside his flat in Little Venice. It is believed the two incidents are related.

The suspects were cornered at the Black Path entrance on Broomsleigh Street and arrested. Sniffer dogs and forensic teams searched the area at night, looking under cars for evidence. This morning Broomsleigh street was still closed off as a crime scene, with a moped still on site. The moped was later taken away with officers from the Pulsar unit expected this lunchtime for further investigation in the search for traces of blood.

Police officers on at the scene commented that moped thefts are a big problem at the moment with up to 30 incidents a night in Camden alone. On Thursday 19th there will be a public meeting to discuss moped related crime and advice on how to stay safe, taking place in the Synagogue Hall.

New chocolate shop opens on Broadhurst Gardens

Zyla is a new chocolate shop on Broadhurst Gardens, selling humankind’s greatest invention – all things chocolate! You can get your hands on individuals truffles, gift boxes, drinking chocolate, marshmallows and candies fruit dipped in chocolate – and the list goes on.

The products are sourced from premium Belgian chocolatiers, and the owner and the shop’s namesake – Zoe Yi Ly’s own hand-made chocolates will soon be available.

Hungry?

These chocs are really special for that extra fancy gift or treat, you can make up your own gift boxes or buy them in little bags by weight. I recommend the white chocolate gianduja praline and the Bailey’s truffle. The dark chocolate mousse ganache also hits the spot.

March of the chocolates!

A nice little addition to West Hampstead. We have been spoilt for choice lately with the addition of some great new bakeries and cafes, but Zyla’s artisan chocolate shop has made it just that little bit sweeter.

Cocoa Bijoux, where are you?
Of course many of you will remember that the site on Broadhurst Gardens was previously Cocao Bijoux. Although it is hard work running a shop, when we spoke to Stuart earlier this year, Stuart was thinking about moving further up Broadhurst Gardens to a larger unit, but in the end the unit was too large and as the lease was coming up for renewal he decided to go back to his previous job as a chocolate distributor for his day job.

He is keeping it as an online-only operation. He’s still got a loyal West Hampstead customer base and says he is trading well that way. In a special arrangement for his loyal, local customers he will leave orders at the whisky and cigar shop next door – with no delivery charge.

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 ongoing problem.

We popped into Curled Leaf on Mill Lane to get an insight. It’s a good vegetarian option for the area run by Luli and Alketa, she is also an artist, who has just done a TED talk.

Glorious West Hampstead sunset this evening as seen by @MarkSpivey

Save West End Lane 1. There have been four different planning applications to install phone boxes up and down the narrow pavements of West End Lane; on the incredibly busy pavements outside West Hampstead Square, at the junction of Iverson Road and West End Lane, in front of Waitrose and up by West End Green. They seem primarily a vehicle for advertising. No thanks. Local organisations WHAT and the NDF strongly object.

Save West End Lane 2. The Kebab shop opposite the overground has changed hands and installed a garish sign. It hasn’t got planning permission and the Council are taking enforcement action.

What is it about Mill Lane? As well as the Insight with Curled Leaf, we also popped into the Alliance – to meet Hélène Clément who works behind the bar. She has just published her first book. London book launch next week in South Ken. Oh la la.

Staying on Mill Lane we also talked to Lora Verner an artist and photographer who took up art again at the nearby West Hampstead Community Centre. Earlier in her career she had taken photos of Biba, which are now in the V&A. (The photos are in the article, worth a look)

Following the architect of the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate winning the RIBA gold medal there was this analysis. If you care about housing in London, or just housing it’s worth a read.

There will be fewer C11s ‘to match demand’.

It was the Tory Party conference where the Camden Tories pondered their fate in face of the onslaught of Labour in London.

The planning committee approved redevelopment of Holy Trinity Church on the Finchley Road to be replaced by the Lighthouse. If they can raise £11m to build it that is.

La Brioche closed for good. Roger and the team will be missed.

Are you confused by the checkout queues at Waitrose…? It seems many are.

Tweet of the week

It was Bookshop day this week, so someone paid a visit to West End Lane Books…

An Insight into: Curled Leaf

Curled Leaf is a café on Mill Lane that has a cool, quirky, health-conscious vibe. It’s run by Alketa Xhafa-Mripa and her husband Luli Mripa and is very much a joint effort. Alketa has lived in the area for 20 years, arriving in 1997 to study art at St. Martins. When the Kosovan war broke out in 1998 she applied for asylum and ended up putting down roots in London.

As well as running the café , doing yoga classes plus being a wife and mother, Alketa is also a practising artist. Recent works include creating ‘Traces project’, recognising the 20,000 women who were raped in the Kosovan war and very recently ‘Refugees Welcome’, which deals with the current refugee crisis. And if that wasn’t enough, she’s just done a TED talk in Tirana.

Luli runs the café with Alketa and practises acupuncture in an on-site treatment room. He arrived in London when he displaced by the earlier Bosnian war in 1991. He was studying in Italy when the war broke out as was called up for the draft, but was advised by his parents and friends not to return and ended up in London.

Curled Leaf specialises in teas, particularly herbal teas as Luli is a herbalist, and offers a staggering 52 different types. For the first couple of years, the café didn’t serve coffee, preferring the ‘ceremony of tea’ but eventually gave in to  customer demand. It also serves healthy seasonal vegetarian food and delicious, if not quite so healthy, cakes.

The arty (and veggie) Curled Leaf on Mill Lane

What first brought you to West Hampstead?
“Luck really,” said Alketa. “Although I had lived around north-west London since I arrived, living in Kilburn, and on the Finchley Road. I was looking for somewhere to open a café and saw this place on Mill Lane”. Luli ended up in north-west London when he arrived, just down the road in Maida Vale, but it was Alketa who brought him to West Hampstead.

What’s your first memory of the area?
“I remember it as being a really nice area with small cafés and boutiques plus the charity shops. I liked it and hope that it will stay like that”, said Alketa. Luli’s answer is shorter: “La Brocca.  I remember fondly the live music there.”

What’s surprised you most about how West Hampstead has changed?
“It seems that the area has changed quite quickly, ” said Luli. “It always had those little places, which you thought would survive for longer, but they are gone.” Alketa is more wistful. “I’m not really happy to see lots of change as it loses that vibe and energy and sense of community, where people know each other and help each other. Being a mum myself, I feel West Hampstead is particularly a place where mums are welcome and I would hate to lose that”.

Feeling hungry?

What’s for lunch?
“Here it’s a variety of things! We do seasonal vegetarian dishes. The house speciality is grilled aubergine, or we are offering quinoa with courgette. Also popular is our special corn and spelt bread with spinach. If we go somewhere else, then eggs benedict at the Wet Fish is a favorite or a vegetarian Pad Thai from Banana Tree.”

West Hampstead in three words?
Beautiful, sense-of-community, mums-welcome (yes , Alketa rather stretches the definition of three words).

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 out and about, eating Italian at Nona in Fairhazel Gardens. How did he find it?

Make a note – Mill Lane will be resurfaced (and closed in sections) from Sat 21st Oct to Sat 28th.

And here are the top twelve things to do in (and around West Hampstead) in October.

Putting your litter in the bin is anything but #despicable in West Hampstead. Image: Marianne Jones

The police are appealing for witnesses to the hold up at the Sherriff Centre, apparently the perpertators were three men dressed in black on mopeds.

The police have also been warning of phones being snatched by moped thieves by the tube station. Be aware. [Ed – reports of another mobile being stolen at the Thameslink last night].

Transport news 1. Following the Underground, is the Overground station ticket office set to close?

Transport news 2. Another train link for West Hampstead! Looks like the Green light for new/upgraded passenger line ‘the West London Orbital’ from West Hampstead to Old Oak Common (future Crossrail hub). More passengers for the the interchange…

Politics (Lib Dem) – former local councillor Nancy Jirira spoke at the Lib Dem conference on how minority ethnic groups are unaware of Lib-Dem policies. Or indeed the Lib Dems.

Politics (Lab) – Tulip continues to battle against a hard Brexit.

There was a very good piece on understanding the World Transformed (i.e. Momentum).

And some cross-party consensus … on chocolate biscuits!

This week saw a (sad) farewell to Paul Perkins who ran the Winch youth centre for nine years (previously there had been seven directors in as many years). The Winch provides after-school clubs and activities for young people. It is a charity WHL has long supported.

Architectural award news 1. Neave Brown architect of the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate won the RIBA Gold medal (highest award for architecture)

Architectural award news 2. Emmanuel Church was nominated for the best church renovation.

And sticking to the architectural theme there was this rather cool historical map of NW London, showing West Hampstead (or West End as was then) in …. 1790!

West Hampstead resident Ben Corrigan appeared earlier this season on Dragon’s Den with as part of a team of three pitching Pouch (an online voucher wallet). The dragons liked the pitch as all five made offers.

Tweet of the week

Worth a click to read the comments.

Twelve Things to do in West Hampstead in October

First up, West Hampstead is a good place to live. But like most (and WHL would argue all) good places it only gets that way if YOU get involved keeping it that way…

1st. This month is the Area Forum* on the 19th, presumably in the Synagogue Hall. High on the agenda will be public safety. And rubbish. *The Area Forum is your chance to speak to councillors about local issues and they mostly have guest speakers.

2. And at the end of the month the Friends of Fortune Green will have their last activity session of the year on Sunday 29th – bulb planting.

If it is music you are after

3. Suitably for third on the list on October 3rd it’s the last of the Troubadour sessions at the Railway. Live music by singer song-writers hosted and featuring Peter Conway.

4. Or if you are down in Kilburn there is an open-mic night (organised by the same guy I think) every Monday at the Sir Colin Campbell.

5. Or (our top tip) thanks to our friends at the Friends of West Hampstead Library on Tuesday 24th October there will be an evening with Graham Gouldman (ex-10cc, Wax etc), writer of songs from ‘No Milk Today’ to “I’m not in Love”. Kids – look him up! He will probably bring along his guitar. Tickets via Eventbrite.

Fancy a laugh?

6. On Sun 8th Upfront Comedy will be starting a monthly session at the Tricycle.

7. But it’s a very bitter sweet session at the Good Ship on the 23rd – it will be their last COMEDY night. (Plus before that there are comedy sessions on the 2nd, 9th and 16th)

On the Art front…

8. There is a new exhibition opening at the Kingsgate Project Space. Seems a bit perplexing again but it makes sense when you go along, learn a bit and concentrate. Opening on Friday 6th Oct 6-9pm. And it seriously ups your cool factor.

9. At the Hampstead Art School (just over the other side of the Finchley Road) they are exhibiting art works by the homeless (until Oct 13th). While you are there it’s worth checking out the courses coming up, in particularly some fun ones over half-term.

The Community Centre the Photography Group are having an exhibition from 6pm on Sat 7th Oct on Broomsleigh Street.

10. The Camden Arts Centre had their new exhibitions opening, Natalie du Pasquier and Christian Nympheta the first under their new director.

And finally, the Community Association are organising a quiz in Emmanuel Church

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 (they are handing out 1,000 copies)! If not, here it is. First, as written (the form is important) but in case that is too small to read on your phone, additionally below that fully written out.

West Hampstead, enjoy National Poetry Day.

Carpe Diem

The boys have been led
into a corridor,
long walls hung with photos.
Alumni, class after class,
year after year.
So what have they all
got in common,
asks the teacher.
Rich, famous, successful,
hazard the boys.
No, says the teacher,
they are all dead.
So this is the lesson boys,

carpe diem (1)

Carpe diem, an exhortation
given great poignancy
by the fate
of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Held in an Iranian jail,
she and her fellow prisoners
have written down
their hopes and fantasies
for the first, longed for
day of freedom.
Their notelets hang beribboned
from a tree on Fortune Green. (2)
They dream of tomorrow
to keep the energy for today.

For us the fortunate ones
who are not incarcerated,
nor staring at a ceiling
from a hospital bed,
nor staring across
a care home lounge,
tomorrow is our next,
first day of freedom,
to choose our coffee,
shut the front door
and cross the green
and go to our chosen work,
which is not, dear Phillip (3)
a toad which
squats upon our back.

In the evening
we will return
to re-cross the Green
and open the front door,
having seized another day
of freedom.

Ted Booth

(1) Robin Williams – Dead Poets Society

(2) www.freenazanin.com

(3) Phillip Larkin -‘ Toads’

The poem refers to Nazanin Ratcliffe, the West Hampstead wife and mother who is not able to enjoy her freedom. Inspired by the poem her husband Richard in front of the Iranian Embassy will be reading it, along with other poems written on the theme by Nazanin and her fellow prisoners.

The bard of Fortune Green, Ted Booth, is former artist in residence of the Friends of Fortune Green and  just stepping down as writer in residence of Friends of West Hampstead Library. A friend indeed. Thank you, Ted.

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 one of the local councillors). We went to take a closer look down the Camden side of the road.

We started up by the railway bridge near the junction with Maygrove Road. And it didn’t take long to see the first of many (illegal) A-boards. At this point I’m going to introduce the word “curtilage“. This means the defined area of a property’s land. Within your curtilage you can do what you want (within reason) – build a deck, put out goods or an A-board etc.. Beyond is the public highway and you cannot do what you want, whether it’s within reason or not.

If the public highway is narrow then it is particularly important to keep it clear for pedestrian flow, buggies, wheelchairs and so on. It is the council’s responsibility to enforce that it is kept clear.

A-board

Further down, more A-boards appearing and furniture for sale.

More A-boards

It gets worse along the really narrow stretch of pavement from 334 to 328 ; although most of the businesses have built out on their curtilage they then obstruct the remaining narrow pavement with A-boards and allow their chairs to spill off their land (and bins too). Adding to the confusion of where responsibility lies, this stretch is actually part of West Hampstead ward, not Kilburn.

Clutter

And they've even pinned an ad to the tree...

There is even an ad pinned to the tree…

A bit further on we come to the Hilal Food Centre.  It’s a popular store – I shop there too – but it still has to obey the same planning rules as everyone else. It has ‘allegedly’ spread way over it’s curtilage and keeps creeping forward across the public highway. Their gain at our loss.

Hilal2Next up is popular pizza joint Quartieri, which had tested the limit by putting out chairs on the pavement and an A-board. However, it was slapped down pretty quickly and with a reputation to keep has been playing by rules since then.

The Black Lion has been around for longer than most businesses on the High Road. It has a nice outdoor space at the side – on its own curtilage – but has recently started putting out chairs and tables on the public pavement. Without planning permission, apparently. The pavement here is wide enough to take it, but it still needs permission guys.

BlackLion

Next up, another pub. The Sir Colin Campbell has tables outside too, but – and here’s the important bit – these are on its own curtilage. And the A-boards are on it too. Cheers to the SCC for being a responsible business.

ColinCampbell

I have spared you yet more photos of fly tipping thus far – there was certainly plenty of it, but at this point we reached a particularly egregious case, some of which appeared to have come from the other side of the road. Why did the fly-tipper cross the road? Because enforcement is tougher on the Brent side.

Cllr John Duffy, a Labour Councillor in Brent, ensures that fly-tipping (and planning breaches) are dealt with and followed up. This doesn’t seem to happen as effectively on the Camden side of the road, although the local councillors tweet the tweet!

Fly-tip

Credit where it’s due

Camden can however take credit for the physical state of the pavements and for the state of the road. Any cycling readers will know that the northern end of Kilburn High Road is in a terrible state, with potholes big enough to cause an accident. But once you pass Quex Road, the surface improves and it’s fine from then on. The reason: in an effort to do some of that famed joined-up thinking, Camden is responsible for the road on the lower section below Willesden Lane and Brent for the upper section.  Camden has met its responsibilities, while the potholes suggest Brent has not.

Pothole number one (of many)

Pothole number one (of many)

And pothole number two.

And pothole number two.

The road surface is vastly better south of Quex Road

The road surface is vastly better south of Quex Road

There is a noticeable difference in the pavements too. On what I understand is the part Brent is responsible for, but in ‘Camden’, there clearly potential trip hazards. WHL checked with Camden on this as it sounds a bit odd and even they weren’t sure.

Clearly a trip hazard. Damages in case of injury would be a lot more than 10p!

Clearly a trip hazard. Damages in case of injury would be a lot more than 10p!

Kilburn High Road marks the boundary between Camden and Kilburn (with Westminster and Barnet also getting involved at the southern and northern ends) and somewhere that’s on the periphery for all councils is always likely to struggle to get the attention of borough heartlands. There are added complications that even within one borough, the road passes through multiple wards, but that shouldn’t have an impact on enforcement.

Aside from aesthetics, why should this be of such a concern? For a start there’s the ‘broken windows‘ theory (general deterioration leads to bigger problems), and certainly the deterioration of our streets has coincided with a rise in crime. And as if that wasn’t enough, living in a cleaner more pleasant environment is less stressful, which given that Camden has some of the highest rates of mental illness across the country – with almost 50,000 adults in Camden experiencing anxiety and depression (20% higher than national levels), would be one more reason to strive for cleaner streets and a decent public realm.

Finally, WHL has been getting flak from local Labour activists about the number of tweets on the state of our local streets (don’t worry we get flack from the Tories too, about different issues – so we must be doing something right). They have said we should mention the Clean Camden App, and this we are happy to do. Just done it. WHL is a regular user but there are some things it can’t do (e.g. report those broken flagstones, or bins left on the pavement). Nor have we heard from Camden about how effective it is. In a nutshell – to paraphrase a former Prime Minister; we need to not only be tough on grime, but tough on the causes of grime.

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 to minimise traffic but the first couple of days didn’t exactly go according to plan. Local residents were not happy, they were already at breaking point before the school opened.  The Councillors and school then stepped in with CPZ enforcement and things improved – until it rained (which is does in winter). And the school is only 3/4 full. And the flats and office space isn’t built yet. And one parent hasn’t quite got this ‘travel plan’ concept…

After our recent story on the apparent rise in crime in West Hampstead, particularly Fortune Green, one of the Fortune Green councillors was burgled!

West Hampstead. This happened to Cllr Russell - don't let it happen to you. Follow crime prevention advice.

West Hampstead. This happened to Fortune Green Cllr Lorna Russell – don’t let it happen to you. Follow crime prevention advice.

Tannin & Oak was broken into as well.  And in this tweet there is report of yet another burglary.  Time for some action by the Police and the Council.

Tree down on West End Lane. Vandalism?

Labour choses candidates for West Hampstead Fortune Green this Monday and Tuesday.  With Phil Rosenberg and James Yarde standing down and Angela Pober becoming an independent it will be three new candidates on the slate in West Hampstead at least.

Local MP Tulip was held up re-entering the country because her daughter’s passport has her husband’s name on it. So she is campaigning to have BOTH parents names  in a child’s passport.  And secondly, we reliably hear from our sources  @nurseryworld that she is to chair the APPG on childcare and early years.

Down at the National Theatre another local, Imelda Staunton, has just opened in ‘Follies’.  5* reviews enter stage right ‘it’s jaw-droppingly good’.

Meanwhile, over at Hampstead Cricket Club Jim Carter is organising a celebrity cricket match next Sunday (17th).

Musician Chris Difford (look him up kids) did a talk at West End Lane books this week.  It was packed to the rafters.  After a very entertaining talk, the guitar came out and he sang a couple of songs including ‘Up the Junction’. It truly was cool for cats.

They always said Guglee curries were hot, but it appears they might have been too hot – there was a fire above their Finchley Road branch.

The Afghan restaurant Ariana II made an appearance on ‘A Cuckoo’s Calling’.

Seems like people are getting into the ‘swing’ of the new bar on Mill Lane.

It’s Mitzvah day coming up in November (Jewish Volunteering day) and this year they will be including visiting residents of Sidney Corob House  in West Hampstead.

And in the same week WHL was also asked by the Abbey community centre for caring residents to visit elderly residents in Whampstead.

Coming up this week (and beyond)

There is a whole bunch of stuff happening on Sunday which warranted a separate round-up article even!

Tues 12th –  NDF meeting
Wed 13th – Flick n’ Ted’s excellent adventure in Poetry and Prose
Thus 14th to Mon 18th – Ham & High Literary Festival @ JW3
Sat 16th + Sun 17th – Open House
Sun 17th – WHCC celebrity cricket match (starts 1:30pm)
Mon 18th – Locally Sourced is back @LaBrioche with a singer and a poet
Sat 23rd – it’s a Barn Dance @Emanuel Church

Tweet of the week

Things seem a bit gloomy recently ….

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 was the fire station’s open day and the young (and some not so young) residents of West Hampstead turned out in force. Earlier the week some grateful residents dropped off a homemade chocolate cake at the fire station to say thank you.

Rubbish continues to vex us. This week there was this on West End Lane, this off West End Lane, this on Netherwood road, and this on Quex Road. Come on Camden – get a grip. But let’s not just whinge – do something. Write to moc.l1519358377iamg@15193583776wnta1519358377hw1519358377 with any issues, fly-tip hotspots, bins left on streets.

PoTW 293

The Evening Standard called West Hampstead ‘A sought-after swan that was formerly an ugly duckling’. The cheek of it! It is well connected (true) but  apparently there is a lack of green space (Kilburn Grange? West End Green? and of course… Fortune Green?)

They were promoting flats for £134k in Ballymore (aka West Hampstead Square). Seemed rather cheap for West Hampstead, reading the small print this is for just a quarter of a flat.

And more dissing of West Hampstead, this time by the FT! They did an ‘at home with FT’ interview with England fast bowler and West Hampstead resident, Steven Finn; but they relocated him to Hampstead. Sigh. [Paywall]

Cat was lost (twice even?). Cat was found. Cat and owner reunited. West Hampstead comes to the rescue again.

Oh no! Our little Waitrose is closing for a week – mainly to get the flooring replaced. No easy task as the store will be completely emptied for the work and stock sent to other stores.

The Black Lion is also closing five days for its refurb! But reopening at 6pm on the 8th with a relaunch party. (So, no pressure on the builders then…:-)

And there’s more… The Iverson Road open space will be closed and redeveloped this Autumn. WHL was skeptical there had been enough consultation but MILAM locals say otherwise. Still, at £100,000+ it’s a bit pricey.

This Wednesday is the first day at school for the new pupils of the Kingsgate infants school expansion, which opens this week at the Liddell Road site. Good luck kids!

An incident outside the NLT on KHR. Cavendish Road closed.

WHL goes a little bit Hello magazine as it’s been wedding bells. Congratulations to Claire from @Achilleaflowers, who married a former Kitchen Table barrista. Love on Mill Lane! And also to the newly-wed @carlabradman. Read all about her wedding here.

WHL went to see the latest opening at Kingsgate Project Space. Interesting and some talks coming up in the month long exhibition. If you want to up your coolness you could do worse than exploring this (and buying a very reasonably price print).

The football season is starting. WHFC is looking for new players more details on the link.

Tweet of the week

This week it’s not a tweet but book of the week, Radio 4’s book of the week … ‘How Not To Be A Boy’. Quick load episodes before they roll off (then have 28 days to listen).

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 of north-west London has seen more crime of late, but do the statistics back that up? And what are the police doing about it?

Crime stats are available from the College of Policing website and are broken down by wards: Fortune Green, West Hampstead, plus parts of Swiss Cottage and Kilburn that make up ‘West Hampstead’. The numbers are a couple of months behind with the most recent figures being for June. Given that crime levels are generally relatively low, increases can be seasonal or statistically not significant, however, the data does suggest a rise in crime.

monthly Reported crime

As you can see from the chart, across the previous few months, monthly crime levels are actually fairly stable, with the exception of Kilburn, where crime is somewhat higher overall. However if you compare it with the same period last year it’s clearer that the trend is upwards. There is an average rise of 15% for the wards and a startling 50% jump in Fortune Green, confirming anecdotal (or tweetendotal) evidence that crime is on the up.

Crime 2016 vs 2017

Crime in Fortune Green up by 50%

Of course it’s important to know what types of crime are causing the increase. In Fortune Green, it’s largely a rise in burglaries and thefts from cars. From April to Jun 2016 (2Q) there were 31 burglaries in Fortune Green, but that had nearly doubled to 55 in 2017. Likewise from April to June  2016 there were 43 theft from cars, but in 2017 that rose to 78.

Fortune Green ward; breakdown of crimes

Fortune Green ward; breakdown of crimes

Here is a breakdown of which crimes make up the total. It is important to point out that West Hampstead is still relatively safe, but not as safe as it was. It is now about average for London, although still safer than Camden overall.

FG ward's relative position in the crime tables.

FG ward’s relative position in the crime tables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These monthly stats are important because they alert the police to any hot spots and allow the Safer Neighbourhoods ward panels to decide crime priorities. Its is really important that you let the police know if you are victim of crime.

How can the police make our neighbourhood safer?

Sgt Mark Townsend has been at West Hampstead for two years and in the force for 13 years. He is in charge of three Safer Neighbourhood teams: Fortune Green, West Hampstead and Kilburn. Although the teams are separate, they do support for each other and coordinate on problems at the ward boundaries. West Hampstead and Fortune Green have two PCs each and one PCSO. Kilburn, with its higher crime rate, has four PCs and one PCSO. Alongside the Safer Neighbourhoods Teams there are response teams (these are the officers who respond to and investigate crimes) based at Kentish Town police station.

There are more changes in the pipeline as earlier this year Camden’s force merged with Islington. This merger is one of two pilots in London – the other is a merger of three east London boroughs. The aim is to turn what thirty London borough forces into 16 policing areas. Therefore further mergers are on the cards as are cuts to police numbers. Numbers are down already. In March 2010, there were 33,367 full-time officers in London. This had fallen to 31,782 in by March 2016 (both numbers include long-term absentees, currently about 1,000 officers).

With burglary and theft from cars on the rise, residents can play their part in making it harder for criminals. Sgt Townsend said that one of his biggest problems is people being lax with their own security. Car doors should always be locked (and anything valuable hidden out of sight), and mopeds should have a disk lock and be secured to the ground. All the oft-repeated advice about securing lower-ground floor flats and being careful not to leave communal doors open or letting in random people to communal flats without checking naturally apply too.

How to report a crime

If you are the victim of a crime, what’s the correct procedure? If it is urgent, call 999, but for less urgent matters call 101, which can take a minute or two to connect. If you are not sure on the level of urgency, Sgt Townsend said call 999 and they will direct your call as appropriate

If anyone wants to report something suspicious they can also call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 – or do it anonymously online, though this means you’ll have no follow up and the police can’t ask for more details. You can also report it directly the Safer Neighbourhoods teams where they can follow up.

Nevertheless, it is important to report a crime, and today the best way to do this is online, although there can be an urge to talk to a real person straight away. Four out of five crimes can now be reported online, even car collisions. The reasons to report all crime, apart from having it investigated, is that it then gets included in those crime stats, which themselves shape the police force’s priorities. Those priorities are updated on the police college site, and the Metropolitan Police pages for each ward’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams (Fortune Green , West Hampstead and Kilburn).

The Met’s site is still in beta, and could be more user-friendly, for example with photos of team members, which would make it more personable, though there are other attempts to modernise the service and make policing more visible. Kilburn Safer Neighbourhood team got smartphones about a year ago and have been tweeting more and more actively . Initially, Sgt Townsend said the team was unsure about this, but they have grown more comfortable with the idea and now eagerly report their successes and ward rounds. There are also Twitter account for Fortune Green and West Hampstead, but they are less achieve and specific than Kilburn, but with time should be more informative.

Safer Neighbourhood Panels

The crime stats are supposed to help the police together with the Safer Neighbourhood Panels (SNP)  decide what the crime priorities are for the area. Recently this has been drifting due to a change in personnel, however, earlier this year local activist Miles Seaman has taken over.  He has been working at reactivating the SNP by ensuring the the meetings are more regular and issues are raised in an orderly fashion. Confusingly, the police also ask for input about which crime priorities on the Safer Neighbourhoods website, but with only 4 votes last month it’s not very democratic.

What next?

So crime indeed has been on the rise in the area.  The question is what to do now?  Firstly, Sgt Townsend says please take personal responsibility, it is astonishing that the number of thefts that take place from unlocked cars. Given that we are facing continued cuts in police numbers this is all the more important. The Safer Neighbourhood Team numbers are safe.  For the moment.  But WHL thinks the police can also do their bit – they have been very slow to take up social media and their websites are – to say the least – clunky. A lot of local policing is know the faces of the bobbies (or PCSOs) on the beat but all we have are grey boxes, nor are their links to the email addresses or a phone number to contact the teams.

The Safer Neighbourhoods panel should hopefully be more pro-active under new chairmanship. Likewise we also haven’t seen much activity from our local councillors (or indeed from the local opposition), but we are happy to be corrected on this.

There is concern about releasing CCTV footage when crimes are committed. WHL has his wallet stolen in Costa coffee (doing an interview about crime, how’s that for irony) but Costa refused to release the footage even though the thief was caught on camera. Sgt Townsend thinks it is time to take a more sensible approach because the police don’t have the resources to follow up.

One example over the past year of everyone pulling together (including WHL) was on improving the Black Path and Billy Fury Way. Both paths had become overgrown and felt unsafe, this resulted in a few incidents. Last August WHL and a number of locals turned out to start cutting it back  and this galvanised Network Rail into action, thanks to help of the Police and local councillors. The overgrown foliage has been cut back, the lighting is improved, the path resurfaced and, that bit at least, is now a safer part of the neighbourhood.

And finally, here is some simple crime prevention advice from the Safer Neighbourhoods Team.  Stay safe West Hampstead.

Crime prevention

Top Ten things to do in (and around) West Hampstead in August

One of joys of living in London is the wide variety of events (from high to low culture) but how often do you miss them? Yet somehow summer seems more complete if you have one or two of these experiences under your belt to bring some lasting memories. Oh the summer of ’69, the boys of summer, summertime etc.  So here is WHL’s top ten for August 2017!

(And if you are wondering about the order they get further and further away from NW6 (but stay within NW London)).

1. An outdoor film screening? They are on all over London but very locally the Friends of Fortune Green put them on right on our doorstep. Next up ‘Toy Story‘ on Saturday August 12th, which starts at sundown (8:30pm ish). It’s FREE but donations appreciated.

2. The following weekend, on Saturday 19th August. 12 – 7pm. The Friends of Kilburn Grange are organising the Kilburn Grange Festival, it’s less polished than the Jester but it has a raffish charm and a more urban vibe.

3. Which way to the beach? No need to go further than JW3 and the Hampstead Beach – it’s free and there until the 2nd September Sunday to Friday.

Thursday nights have 2-1 cocktails from 5 – 8pm and music; 10th is 60s beach vibes (round, round get around), 17th is 80s pop, 24th is accoustic classics and on the 31st they are going out Jamaican style with reggae rhythms. A private party on the 24th means it won’t be open and they won’t be open on the 31st either.  Sod’s law – forecast for the 24th is quite good and for the 31st as well.  Oh well, there is always the Roundhouse…

Hampstead Beach - actually, West Hampstead Beach! Image: JW3

Hampstead Beach – actually, (ahem) West Hampstead Beach! Image: JW3

A little further afield there are two other beaches; a hip one at the Roundhouse and a family friendly one at Brent Cross .

4. Is it art you are after? On our doorstep there is the Camden Arts Centre currently showing is Daniel Richter  and Jennifer Tee . Both these exhibitions are showing until mid-September with late night opening on Wednesdays. CAC is always (well mostly) worth a visit.

Rather smaller scale is the Kingsgate Project Space. Currently they are showing CATS, its very small with only two works but they are good. Worth a wonder and something for both adults and young kids to enjoy (perhaps on their way to nearby Kilburn Grange). Two works is often enough for the attention span of young kids! The show is open Thursday to Saturday 12 – 6pm and ends on 19 Aug.

5. Music on the cards? The Kingsgate centre (opposite the Kingsgate workshops/project space) are running their monthly Jazz sessions, next up August 31st

Want something more rocky? then on Fridays there is house band at One Bourbon ‘the sound of NW6’ no less. Or it’s the Kilburn Ironworks 3rd birthday coming up on bank holiday weekend (25th and 26th Aug)… there is lots on offer including a resident DJ from 9pm.

For a slightly different vibe (e.g. 70’s original vinyl) Bobby F has a resident DJ on Fridays and Saturdays.

6. You’re having a laugh?  It’s no joke – there is quite a lot of comedy right here in NW6.  Near Finchley Road tube station is the London Improv Theatre which for most of August is taken up by the Camden Fringe.

Reliably good with loads of Edinburgh previews is Good Ship Comedy on Monday nights.  Previews over now and normal service has been resumed. A little further up KHR at the NLT on the last Sunday of the month (but not sure if it will be on Bank Holiday Sunday) is Abigail’s Party, emceed by local Abigail Burdess. I think she will be up in Edinburgh, but her show got a ringing endorsement from this local.

7. A really nice hot summer’s day just isn’t complete without a dip in an outdoor pool. NW London’s favorite is the Hampstead ponds.  Probably one to hold off for a really hot day.  We had them earlier in the summer, so hopefully they will be back… Or there is the Parliament Hill Lido.  And if the water is a bit chilly then a short ride on the Overgound is the (heated) 50m London Fields Lido.

8. Summer just isn’t summer without outdoor theatre.  If you haven’t been, do visit the Globe theatre (OK, OK it isn’t in NW London…) It’s only £5 for a groundling (standing) ticket but top tip (especially if going with others) is to get one cheap seat as well, so you can sit down from time to time, although standing for the whole performance is fine.   Closer to home is …

The Open Air theatre.  (Re) opening next week is a return visit of last summer’s sold out Jesus Christ Superstar.  It opens on August 11th and runs until 23rd Sept.

They also have comedy nights and outdoor film screenings, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind (tickets from £16.50 vs free for Toy Story on Fortune Green, just saying).

What's the Buzz? It's the sold out Jesus Christ Superstar back! Image: Open Air Theatre

What’s the Buzz? It’s the sold out Jesus Christ Superstar back! Image: Open Air Theatre

9.  Before the show (or on any nice day) why not have a picnic in Regent’s Park (actually the Regent’s Park).  You can visit the Queen Mary’s Rose garden, the hidden (St. John’s) garden, the Italian garden or, top tip for this summer, the Frieze sculpture park  until the autumn.  Normally it is installed with the show in October and stays for a few weeks after, this year they have installed it running up to the show.

10. Sticking with cutting edge then Random International’s show at the Roundhouse looks like being worth a visit.  They are working with regular collaborator Wayne McGregor on +-Human. They worked together on Rain Room at the Barbican two years ago, which was excellent.

It’s £5 for the installation alone and £15 (Fridays and Saturdays) for the associated dance performance. The show runs for two weeks from the 11th to the 26th of August.

If any of you manage to do all 10 of these – with photographic proof – then it’s a free pint from WHL at the next Whampgather – and a very memorable summer for you!

( 11. Finally slipping in at number 11 (because it is actually on 2nd September, taking place at Kenwood) is the FT Weekend Festival . I know, I know most of you read the Guardian (and WHL, obvs) but there are also some FT readers in West Hampstead. Actually, it has  a really wide and varied list of participants. Would even appeal to Guardian readers.  It’s £75 a ticket, so not cheap, but another interesting event on our doorstep).

 

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’ supplement, which recommended West Hampstead’s own Le Petit Corée. So I thought, why schlep all the way across London when this is on our doorstep.

WHL had reviewed the Petite Corée previously and gave it the thumbs up.  How would it fare on a repeat visit?

The Petite Corée offers a fusion of European and Korean food, so a pretty suitable choice for our friends Tim (German) and his new girlfriend Katrina (Asian-American). After a quick glance at the menu we decided on the  sharing route and for starters ordered ceviche, soft-shell crab and truffle burrata. Jae, the chef, worked in one of London’s top kitchens and it showed – the starters were all hits. Visually, a particular highlight was the ceviche which was a beautiful as a Tom Aiken’s salad; a Jackson Pollock on a plate. Sometimes truffle on a menu is just a way of cashing it, but not here as it was the right note of truffle to an excellent fresh creamy burrata. And finally soft-shell crab – a favourite of mine but which I don’t often see on the menu in London.

It's thumbs up - as the clean plates show - for the Petite Coree

It’s thumbs up – as the clean plates show – for the Petite Coree

For mains we went for skate wing, octopus and firm favourite pork belly with a couple of extra sides (including kim-chi, of course). Again the three main course dishes were excellent, the skate perfectly flash-fried and the pork-belly slow-cooked. Not only were we eating local but from locally sourced ingredients as the skate was supplied by Broadhurst Garden fishmonger La Mer and the chocolates (on offer for dessert) from its erstwhile neighbour Cocoa Bijoux. The wine was a Chenin Blanc, a nice alternative to the usual Sauvignon/Pinot Grigio and – as behavioural economics predict – our choice was the second cheapest on the good but, not too long, wine list.

Dessert choices were raspberry Etton mess (sic), tiramisu and miso brownies. As I prefer chocolatey desserts my vote went for the brownie and tiramisu but Katrina and Tim’s preference was the Eton mess.

Some nice touches in both the decor and the desserts

Some nice touches in both the decor and the desserts

The Petite Corée has a quirkyness about it – from the name and logo to the decor – and spelling of Etton mess, but there is nothing quirky about the cooking. It’s fusion yes, but not quirky. Jae, the chef, trained at some of the best London kitchens and he has brought this back to West Hampstead. Lucky us.

It was listed as being a cheap eat (well for the Sunday Times at least) but that undersells the cooking. Rather it’s like when you book a good value Ford as a rental car on holiday and find you’ve been upgraded to a BMW. The excellent cooking was matched by a relaxed but efficient service making our evening at The Petite Corée a success – we had a grand old time.

The Petite Corée

a: 98 West End Lane, NW6 2LU

t: 020 7624 9209

e: moc.l1519358377iamto1519358377h@eer1519358377octit1519358377epeht1519358377

 

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 a ramp is available on demand.

The local Safer Neighbourhood Team issued this warning.

Shocking scenes in West Hampstead this week... We don't feel able to publish the full image!

Shocking scenes in West Hampstead this week… We don’t feel able to publish the full image! via @Scandisgirl.

Tom gave his verdict on Kilburn’s Quartieri, following the recent whampdinner.

The Kitchen Table had its final farewell, and now everything’s coming up Mill House!

Some residents of the Chalcots estate, who were evacuated in the wake of the Grenfell fire, have started to be moved back in.

Maygrove & Iverson Road residents continue to push for some respite from their parking woes and met with officers from Camden. One for all of you in parking zone CA-Q.

Brioche has put in for a refurb as it is due for an upgrade (the biggest change: bi-fold doors)

Tulip Siddiq MP continues to fight for the release of West Hampstead resident Nazanin Zachary-Ratcliffe and arranged a debate in Westminster Hall about Nazanin’s plight and that of other imprisioned dual nationality Britons.

Tulip also held a reception to say thank you all the voluntary groups in H&K.

The West Hampstead Women’s Centre won the Queen’s award for voluntary service.

The Kilburn Grange festival had to be postponed after the bad weather. It will now take place on August 19th.

Daniel Raven-Ellison passed though West Hampstead this week on his #bigwalkroundlondon. Who is he? He’s the guy driving the National Park City initiative with our growth area it’s a particularly interesting concept for West Hampstead (just a shame he didn’t stop to find out more).

A vehicle was abandoned in Kilburn. Upside down.

Fortune Green councillor Flick Rea sat for a portrait masterclass at Hampstead School of Art. It turned out to be a revealing experience.

Local comedian Matt Green gave an insight into his West Hampstead life.

An old street sign appeared by Barclays .

One local captured some of the dramatic storm earlier this week.

Tweet of the week

Tom’s talking Italian at Quartieri

The latest Whampdinner took us down the KHR and (via the ever-splendid Black Lion) into Quartieri, to see what all the fuss was about regarding apparently authentic Italian pizzas…

It’s cheery inside, smart but laid-back, with one wall housing a remarkable array of herbs and chilis, quite a sight, and wonderful to know they’re going straight into the dishes.

Quartieri herb garden

Browsing the menu in advance I immediately got the impression these were ‘serious’ pizzas, as many appeared simple, without too many toppings, and no additional ones (though there were some less-standard choices available, and a special, a lemon-based one which sounded intriguing).

My table quickly devoured a charcuterie board, and looking across the room I noted an elegantly presented salad indicating care and attention. This seemed to have what looked like crisps placed on top; Mark noted several comments on these, in some cases accompanied by quirky Italian terminologies for fried this or that, but I think we’re all in agreement that yes, those were crisps!

Quartieri charctuerie

The bruschetta was good, as was the gnocchi (we tried some as a bonus starter) – somehow light yet rich, with a tantalising softness to it and just a little ‘edge’ as well. For both these dishes, I’d have liked a touch more salt, but then I’ve probably mashed my tastebuds due to decades of, well, getting mashed.

Quartieri Bruschetta

Quartieri gnocchi

I selected the Puttanesca pizza. With simple pizzas there’s nowhere to hide, so there has to be seasoning and taste; and indeed this was delicious, with strong flavours and satisfying dough. For sure, it had a touch of class and confidence to it, which I think is is what we were hoping for with this type of venture.

I was puzzled by all the toppings being in the centre (from the menu: Agerola fior di latte, slow food capers, and Caiazza black olives from Selanova), and although I admired the intention of these dark, intense olives being unpitted, this did inevitably mean it wasn’t easy to get a taste of everything in one bite. More puzzling was the omission of the stated Casa Marazzo organic tomatoes, especially as the whole menu sings-out “tomatoes!” throughout. The bonus addition of basil added a nice dimension though. Whatever, I’d happily have been back to try other options at 8am for breakfast given the opportunity. (Well perhaps 10am).

Quartieri pizza puttanesca

Service, via the friendly but professional Luka, was efficient, and we enjoyed a chat with the effusive founder, Tony, who seemed to be an exact 50-50 Italian / English mix. Us simpletons were amused and confused in equal measure initially, when Tony read menu options in vibrant Italian before sounding like a Kilburn pub landlord moments later.

We tried two reds: Aglianico Quartieri 17 – “savoury, meaty notes and plum fruit characterise this dry house red” – indeed it was dry, quite a refreshing wine to start off with, then Piedirosso Pompeiano 20 – “a medium bodied red with hints of strawberry on the nose and strawberry & blackcurrant on the palette” – a similar lightness (12.5% ABV) but with rather more to it, to match up against the grub.

A note about the chili oil – it was excellent. That sort of heat which creeps up, transpiring to be far more complex and indeed spicier than expected. Now, I tried to stitch-up poor old Goetz on my table, by assuming a nonchalant manner and suggesting “put tons of it on, it’s very mild” – however, as Goetz already knows I’m an idiot, he saw through my devious plan immediately – dismissing it with a chuckle and a bite of his calzone. Doh!

High quality pizzas, then lounging about in The Black Lion a couple of doors down – sounds like a sensible Kilburn-based evening, does it not? Welcome, Quartieri – we look forward to next time.

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 it normally looks like) , but appear ignore many others. Hidden in plain sight. Then there are the missed collections and @fengsushi isn’t making itself popular.

There have been a rash of crimes in the area recently; a mugging on West End Lane, an attempted burglary on Sheriff Road , an actual one by Fortune Green, several windows smashed on West End Lane shops, and a burglary and car windows smashed as well. Take extra care, and if you are victim of a crime please report it to the police so they can get a true picture of the situation.

Falling masonry on Fawley Road brings the fire brigade out. Image via @jemimahknight

Falling masonry on Fawley Road brings the fire brigade out. Image via @jemimahknight

Our historians tracked down a missing cinema on Kilburn High Road.

And in a twist of fate there is a(n other) large-scale planning application for that same site.

Swiss Cottage’s Tory council candidate for next year’s local election, Calvin Robinson, appeared as the poster boy for a Government teaching campaign and then railed against left-wing brainwashing in schools.

More detailed analysis of ward by ward voting in GE2017 shows how strongly marginal wards like West Hampstead, Fortune Green, and even neighbouring Tory wards voted Labour.

Local MP Tulip Siddiq has arranged a debate in Parliament this week on British prisoners in Iran, including West Hampstead mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Remember the lost tortoise last week. Apparently it was not one, but two different tortoises. Both found and back home. But maybe they were trying to meet each other? A tortoise tryst thwarted?

Some good property news, of sorts, Kilburn offers the best choice of rental properties in London.

In a sponsored post, the Studio Society updates us on its gym which is opening very soon on Fortune Green Road.

Tweet of the week

The Kitchen Table bows out after 10 years on Mill Lane

It's Jennie from the Block (Mill Lane that is)

The Kitchen Table is changing hands. It had been up for sale for a while, and the owners Jennie Vincent and Tom Leslie found a buyer a few months ago (after an earlier offer fell through). However, it has taken a long time to finally dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s (or teas).

The Kitchen Table has a special place in many of our hearts – and stomachs. It is the ‘Central Perk’ of West Hampstead. In fact, Jennie revealed that a customer had told her recently that when she moved to West Hampstead she was not happy at all but one day she wandered into the Kitchen Table and from then on she felt at home. That customer is not alone. The Kitchen Table has been an important ingredient in the West Hampstead mix for the past ten years – it is one of those independent businesses that give the area character and which so many locals love to boast about (even if not all of them actually patronise these businesses).

To see how Jennie feels about it, here is her farewell blog post. Warning – hankies at the ready.

However, running such a people intensive business is HARD work. There is rarely day off, with the added stresses of running a small business. But through it all, Jennie, Tom and the team have kept on smiling, baking cakes, making coffee, scrambling the best eggs in the ‘hood (and crisping the second-best bacon butties in the country, as we now know), and we, the people of West Hampstead, kept on returning. At least one customer, who used to live in Kilburn (or Queen’s Park borders as she called it) but has now moved to the other side of the Heath, still comes back to the Kitchen Table for a regular brunch.

After a decade of hard work, therefore, Jennie and Tom have decide to explore new avenues. Neither of them are yet quite sure what those avenues are, but they are not short of possibilities. Jennie is thinking about staying in catering, but with a business that requires less of a commitment than running a café six days a week. Tom, who used to work for Cycle Surgery, thinks that something bicycle-related might be on the cards. Whatever they choose, I know that West Hampstead wishes them all the best.

Who will stepping into their shoes? A chap called Amir, what his plans are we don’t know, but WHL wishes him well.

So… people of Whampstead, this will be Jennie and Tom’s final Saturday, it’s the last chance for those famous brunches. Tuesday 18th will be the final day of trading and, as Jennie and Tom are incredibly grateful to their loyal customers, the KT will stay open after normal closing time for a farewell drink. If you want to pop by, please do.

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 new pizza place on the KHR). Good food, good company and good limoncello. (If you’ve not been to one before, do subscribe to the newsletter and invites – they are a really fun night out in the ‘hood, and it’s  and always nice to meet fellow whampers who are even more interesting after a glass or two of wine).

Tortoise lost. Sad face. Tortoise found! Smiles all round. Pics and general good samaritan from Jemima Knight and Weary cynic (yes really).

Tortoise lost. Sad face. Tortoise found! Smiles all round. Pics and general good samaritanness from Jemima Knight and Weary cynic (she has a good heart after all! 🙂

(astonishingly 17 other people claimed it as ‘their’ missing tortoise)!

And Coco (cat) was missing, but has been found.

Now that we have reunited tortoise and owner. And Coco and her owner. Anyone recognise this ginger cat?

Hello Lola. After a soft opening over the past few days, Lola’s bakery opens on Tuesday Thursday the 13th.

Latte Lassi is moving in where Cocoa Bijoux was (and Cocoa Bijoux is moving further up Broadhurst, apparently)

Genius club is taking over the Movers and Shakers spot. To sell games and toys.

Monsters of Art is opening a new tattoo shop off Oxford Street.  But fear not, it’s keeping the one on Mill Lane.

It was Pride weekend – and there is an appeal for information and memories of the gay scene at the Lower Ground Bar. It had a gay scene?

I know I said no more election news, but while the overall election turnout in the UK was 68.7%, and in London it was over 70%, but in West Hampstead it was the highest in Camden at over 80%.

Remember Woods & Woods? It was the pine furniture shop where Tesco is now. Damien Pullen, the owner and familiar face in the area, has died suddenly.

Comments are officially closed on the farmers’ market expansion but experience suggests that it’s still worth commenting if you have not already. You can do so here.

West Hampstead local Harriet Dart played in the women’s doubles (or ‘dubs’) at Wimbledon. She was not successful this year but who knows what the future will bring.

Help to buy isn’t really helping in Camden; in the last financial year only 13 loans were issues in the borough! And none would have been much help buying this house in West Hampstead- it’s on the market for £4 million.

Tweet of the week

West Hampstead passengers top 20 million a year

As long-suffering commuters in (and through) West Hampstead are aware, it’s feels ever more crowded at our stations – especially the tube station. But do the numbers back up that perception? We crunched the numbers, and we were surprised at the results.

Passenger flows at West Hampstead’s three stations – the Underground, the Overground and Thameslink – are measured separately, but Oyster card data allows reasonably accurate tracking of people changing trains as well as those who enter and exit here and don’t change.

To better understand how tube passenger numbers have grown, we compared West Hampstead to neighbouring Kilburn, Finchley Road, and Swiss Cottage stations. Passenger numbers at these stations have been essentially flat over the past 10 years, but at West Hampstead they are up 50% from 7.5 million to 11 million entries/exits p.a. (a whopping 3.5 million extra passengers a year).

West Hampstead passenger numbers surge from 2010 onwards

West Hampstead passenger numbers surge from 2010 onwards

The growth spurt began in 2010, but what has driven it? Part of the rise is due to development here, which looks set to increase with more recent development in and around the stations. Just 100 additional residents commuting to work 48 weeks a year is 48,000 additional journeys. However, the real driver has been, the upgrade of and the extra passengers on, the Thameslink and especially the Overground.

Thameslink use has risen steadily from 2.2 million to 3.7 million over the past ten years, but it is the Overground that has seen the real growth. In 2006, there were 1.9 million entry/exits in 2006, dipping to just over 1 million with disruption of construction. This year, that is expected to surpass 5 million.

Longer trains and a more integrated network have pushed Overground numbers up

Longer trains and a more integrated network have pushed Overground numbers up

Add them all together and total passenger entry/exits for the three stations have risen from 10.7 million in 2007 to 19.6 million in 2016 (and should be more than 20 million by 2017). That’s a doubling in ten years.  That includes an increasing number of interchanges – the data here is not perfect, but we estimate there were about 250,000 in 2007, last year it was more than 1.5 million. West Hampstead it doesn’t  just feel more crowded – it really is!

Woo-hoo a new gate at the tube station. Actually it's a real improvement. What next?

Woo-hoo, an extra gate at the tube station. A real improvement. What next?

To cope with this growth, TFL is upgrading the Overground to expand the platforms and add step-free access. At the tube station it has  added and an extra gate – which will help when it’s finally working. But this is unlikely to be the silver bullet that solves the overcrowding, although it’s a sensible step in the right direction

Another major issue we face is the lack of step-free access at the tube station. Thameslink has it, and the new Overground station will have it. The tube station is the last piece of that particular puzzle. Last week TFL announced six stations were getting funding for step free access from a £200 million pot, but depressingly, this didn’t include West Hampstead.  One of those stations is Mill Hill East station, the least-used station on the Northern Line (with 1.3 Million entry/exits p.a.).  Doesn’t quite compute.

Expansion of the Farmers’ market; too much too soon?

London Farmers’ Markets has applied to Camden Council to expand the operating hours of the market that currently pops up on Iverson Road every Saturday. The existing market is popular, so this initially seems like a good idea and LFM has made it very easy for locals to show their support. However, residents who’ve looked at the smallprint have some reservations, and it is far from clear whether the demand is actually there.

We love the farmer's market, but is expansion from 4 to a potential 82 hours a week too much, too soon?

We love the farmer’s market, but is expansion from 4 to a potential 82 hours a week too much, too soon?

For years, the residents of West Hampstead clamoured for a farmers’ market, and their wish came true five years ago. Pretty much from the word go it’s been a success, as our Insight into: Brinkworth Dairy explained.

To build on this success, London Farmers’ Markets – the company that puts on not just the West Hampstead market, but most of the major once-a-week markets around the capital, including Queens Park’s Sunday market – has put in a planning application to expand the hours of operation. On Saturday, the market would potentially run until 8pm, rather than 2pm as it is now. There could be a Sunday market from 10am to 5pm and on Mondays to Fridays it is asking for permission to trade from 7am to 8pm. Add it all up and it’s a potential expansion from 4 to 82 hours a week.

Local residents in Maygrove and Iverson Road, who already are under severe parking ‘stress’ are obviously concerned about the impact on parking, and there are also concerns about rush-hour passenger and traffic flows.

Nor does it seem that the traders themselves are unanimously in favour. Many of the regular stallholders have to drive a couple of hours to get here, which would mean 5am starts (or earlier) if they were to be opening for busines at 7am (not allowing for setup time). Once they finish and pack up there’s another two hour drive home – or more in the afternoon traffic. If the Saturday market didn’t close until 8pm they wouldn’t be home until 11pm, having got up at 5am. And then get up the next day at 5am for the next farmers market? All seems rather implausible.

Other locals have raised concerns about the impact on our local greengrocers, butchers and cafés? Businesses at the farmer’s market don’t have to pay the high rent or rates that businesses with premises have to face, so would this amount to unfair competition.

Postcode survey of farmers' market users source: LFM

Postcode survey of farmers’ market users. Source: LFM

LFM says that the mid-week market would be a different animal to the weekend market. There would be fewer stalls and more food outlets. But this has been tried before, admittedly not by LFM, and was not a great success given the lack of footfall. As we all know, West Hampstead is a busy interchange so there are morning and evening rush hours but not much in-between. Traders who were involved with that market thought that, if at all, just running it on Thursday and Friday night might be a better option.

It does rather feel as if LFM is attempting to get permission for as many hours as it possibly can, and will then work out when it will actually choose to trade, with the flexibility to adjust based on demand and the seasons. The idea of more than 80 hours of trading every week is surely unrealistic.

Even those with reservations – locals and traders – think that an expansion of the hours of trading is worth exploring -perhaps a market on Sunday with similar hours to Saturday but a slightly different focus. During the week perhaps one evening to test the market. In essence let’s not kill the farmer’s market goose that lays the organic golden egg.

Planners at Camden Council are reviewing the application and have acknowledged support for it. However, they are also considering the impact on neighbourhood amenity, local traffic and highway safety plus implications for the viability of the town centre. If you want to comment, you have until the 6th of July and can do so here.

Great Get Together Weekend – Jo Cox would have been proud of West Hampstead

It was a hot weekend in West Hampstead but with the ‘Big Lunch/ Jo Cox Great Get Together there was some really cool stuff going on. On Saturday night it was cycle-powered outdoor cinema and on Sunday a number of Big Lunches in the ‘hood.

By popular demand the first outdoor screening of the summer, organised by the Friends of Fortune Green, was back to cycle-power. The film was ‘Arrival’, which overall proved a popular choice although the audience of over 325 either loved it (“it was best film I’ve seen in ages”) or didn’t (“what was that all about?”); but even those who didn’t quite get the film enjoyed that fantastic atmosphere. Normally, by the end of the film it’s sweaters and blankets but not this time as it was still 23 degrees at 11pm.

Outdoor film - a cool thing to do on a hot night.

Outdoor film – a cool thing to do on a hot night.

Before the film started MC Simon Inglis thanked FOFG for putting it on and electric pedals for the system, and wished a speedy recovery to Councillor Flick Rea, in the audience with her arm still in sling. He also asked for donations to help fund the film, and the audience responded generously giving £925; so next up the kids-friendly film on August 12th (date for your diaries).

After the late-night film screening it was a gentle start for the Big Lunches on Sunday. Down in the Iverson Road Space, Monica Regli from MILAM reported that “It was sweltering hot so we had to keep moving the tables but we had a really good turnout. She heaped praise on member Carlotta Fiocchi-Sassoon the main organiser, although “everyone chipped in (and a special thank you to Sidings)” Monica was especially pleased that there was a great community spirit, “you could hear everyone networking and swapping information. Just what the country needs right now – a really positive effect.”

Mingling on Iverson at the MILAM lunch.

Mingling on Iverson at the MILAM lunch.

Up in Fortune Green ward it was take your pick. Probably the award for best village fete atmosphere was the Ravenshaw event on Glastonbury Street – although with a street name like that you can’t but help have a great atmosphere. It was a really well planned , but their secret weapon was their paddling pools! Popular on a hot day with the kids … and eyed enviously by the adults.  Their raffle raised a tidy sum for a local charity and #Grenfelltower.

Jimmy the juggler kept the kids entertained

Jimmy the juggler kept the kids entertained

A short walk away Hillfield Residents Association had about 75 adults and kids turn for their Big Lunch. Co-organiser Sandie Evans said “I’ve met the nicest people – and how did I NOT know Neil and Amanda – they live practically opposite and we’ve both lived on the Street for over 15 years”! Hillfield’s secret weapon was resident Jimmy who just happened to be juggler and kept the kids entertained for hours, although thankfully for him given a brief break by the arrival of police horses.

Everyone loves a police horse!

Everyone loves a police horse!

For the cultural historians among you that old buffet staple potato salad is out (there was none), pasta salad came in second place but the winner by far was couscous salad – there was enough to resurface the M1. Hillfield’s raffle was for #troysmission, the West Hampstead toddler with cerebral palsy whose mum is seeking to raise £50,000 for a potentially life changing operation for him.

Couscous the new potato salad

Couscous – the new potato salad

And a short walk away from Hillfield, neighbours Gondar Gardens and Agamemnon, 65 of them, sat down under four massive gazebos (on a very hot day) for their lunch. Their secret weapon was magician, Tom Grubb, who kept the (admittedly by this stage slightly boozy) residents bamboozled.

Tom the Magician bamboozled the boozy residents of Gondar

Tom the Magician bamboozled the boozy residents of Gondar Gardens (although some were on the water!)

Chairman David Yass said “There was a very nice community feel – one of my neighbours said to me I’ve lived here 30 years and met someone who lives across the street who I had never talked to before – isn’t that wonderful.” WHL can’t really put it any better than that.

Cinema on Fortune Green – Arrival in West Hampstead

FilmonFortuneGreen_ft

This Saturday, the Friends of Fortune Green is putting on its first screening of the summer. The film will be Arrival it’s a science-fiction movie from last year that got generally pretty good reviews. it will make you think and feel, but I don’t want to give too much away.

Due to popular demand, the screening will be cycle-powered. So, West Hampstead we need your leg power. There will be a couple of kid-suitable bikes for the younger audience members. But not too young as it’s a PG-13.

Arrival

As we’re almost at the longest day, and it needs to be dark for anyone to see the screen, the film will start at about 9.15pm. However, as those of you who’ve been to previous Films on Fortune Green will know, you need to get there early to bag a good spot.

It is an obvious bring-a-picnic event but Fortune Green offers other options; the Green Room is offering a hotdog, tortillas and popcorn special (best to pre-order), Nautilus has fish n’ chips (obvs) or if it’s a curry you’re after there is Bombay Nights. Whatever you chose, please take your rubbish home with you and keep the Green clean!

This weekend is also the Big Lunch/Jo Cox Great Get Together, so the aim is not only to show a great movie but to bring West Hampstead together at what continues to be a febrile time. Come along, meet your neighbours, celebrate your neighbourhood.

How much does it cost? It’s free; but… this screening is more expensive than the last couple. It’s costing more than £2,000 (including £100 to Camden for use of the park). A good part of this cost is sponsored by local estate agent Benham & Reeves (thank you) but the Friends are having to dip into their reserves so – if you can afford a donation it will allow them to put on future films (and if you don’t they can’t)!

There is a second summer screening planned for August 12th. As it is during the summer holidays it will be more kid-friendly (and will start earlier), though the exact film is to be decided.

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 squeaky tight seat as many predicted, H&K is – for the moment at least – a Labour stronghold.

And the winner is ... Tulip Siddiq M.P. Image credit @betterforbritain

And the winner is … Tulip Siddiq M.P. Image credit @betterforbritain

Conservatives’ share of the vote fell 10%. Kirsty Allan of one-time challengers the Lib Dems got 4,100 votes (up 1.4%) while John Mansook of the Greens got 742 (down 3.2%). The two independent candidates couldn’t muster 200 votes between them. UKIP had not stood, and it was their voters going to the Conservatives that was Tulip’s biggest fear. In the end, she had no need to worry.

Tulip was clearly helped by the strong Labour boat, captained by Jeremy Corbyn, but H&K voters also seem to have responded to her focus on her local record and no doubt the very high intensity campaign that her local supporters were able to muster at short notice.

Her strong anti-Brexit stance must also have played a role, and may well have been a key driver of the drop in the Tory vote. One theory doing the rounds at the count was that remainer Tories were voting Lib Dem, but if true, then other Lib Dem voters must have switched to Labour perhaps to keep the Tories out rather than due to a change of ideology, as the Lib Dem overall share of votes remained about the same.

Did the drive to sign up young people have an effect in Hampstead & Kilburn. It probably helped. An additional 2,779 voters signed up to vote (though age is unknown), taking the total electorate to just shy of 83,000. Turnout on the day was higher than the national average, rising 3 percentage points to 70.4% (which translated to 4,443 extra votes compared to 2015).

What of our neighbours? In Camden’s other constituency, Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer stormed home with a majority in excess of 30,000. In H&K’s neighbouring Brent seat, Brent Central, Labour’s Dawn Butler was also a convincing winner with a 28,000 majority. Looking south, Karen Buck – also Labour – was in a similar position to Tulip, defending a small majority and with the threat of a strong Tory challenge. She too ended up coming home safely with an 11,500 majority.

All those election leaflets, now we need to recycle them (... or just reuse them for the rumoured next GE?)

All those election leaflets, now we need to recycle them (… or just reuse them for the rumoured next GE?)

Labour’s only local disappointment, and the only glimmer of hope for the Conservatives in our part of the capital was to the north in Finchley and Golders Green, Conservative Mike Freer was re-elected, though his majority was only just over 1,500. It was a similar picture further north still, where local boy Mike Katz – former Labour councillor for Kilburn before his controversial deselection – looked like he was in with a good shot of taking Hendon. In another very tight race, the rising Labour tide wasn’t quite enough for Mike who fell just under 1,000 votes short of unseating Conservative Matthew Offord. One feels Mike’s time will come.

What does any of this mean – well, no great change locally for now, but brace yourselves for another trip to the polling booths before too long in the next round of “Tulip takes on allcomers”.

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 us before the election was called) and had a baby too! In our final interview of this election we look at how this campaign has differed from 2015, and what makes her nervous.

Two years ago, she told us that she had loads of energy and the campaign was really exciting. How is this time? “With Theresa May calling a snap election we only had a day to plan, last time we had a year, so it has been very intense. With the luxury of a lot of time in 2015 we could hold events to boost volunteers. This year, there’s been no time for any of that. And add to that a severe lack of sleep because of the baby!”

She has just done an interview with the BBC about having a baby on the campaign trail. “Normally, you can skip a meal, you can forgo a few hours of sleep; but you can’t do that with a baby – she needs her meals, her sleep, the basic human needs of a child can’t be neglected.”

Tulip Siddiq at the West Hampstead Life hustings. Photo via Eugene Regis

Tulip Siddiq at the 2015 West Hampstead Life hustings. Photo via Eugene Regis

Hampstead & Kilburn was always going to be a tight seat – such are the demographics here – but predictions have definitely changed over the course of the campaign. How has the campaign gone? “It’s very had to know how people will vote,” says Tulip. “[Pollster] Peter Kellner said that H&K was an odd-ball seat. I hope people are focussing on my personal record. This is the seat I wanted to stand in and the seat I wanted to win. But this year feels a lot more unpredictable. Brexit has changed everything, as has Trump being elected. Although Europe came up in 2015, we didn’t really expect that we would vote leave. The political landscape has changed.”

Tulip of course rebelled against her party on Article 50, voting against and resigning her frontbench position as shadow early years minister in the process. Given that H&K is a strong Remain constituency, this was probably a smart move, but with Labour’s own position rather vague on Brexit some hardcore Remain voters may still be sceptical.

For Tulip personally, being a rebel has been eye-opening. “The level of pressure you get to vote in terms of the party is immense – it’s borderline harassment if you go into the wrong lobby. But I’m a tough cookie and I’ve questioned the PM more times that any other backbencher.”

Tulip certainly continues to fight the EU corner: “I am very worried about the future; about what will happen with trade, about the number of scientific projects in the constituency that are dependent on EU funding, about what will happen with EU citizens in the NHS – a fifth of the doctors and nurses in the Royal Free are from Europe, for example. Bluntly, what is going to happened to the GDP of London?”

She says that, on the doorstep, “People seem to appreciate me voting against Article 50 – they even know the position I held – but it’s a mixed response and you need to win people over”.

Her Tory opponent this time around is Claire-Louise Leyland. A very different character from boxing-academy Simon Marcus in 2015. But is she more challenging? There are, after all, some Tories who feel Simon’s campaign never really picked up momentum. “I don’t really know much about Claire-Louise, and I haven’t met her that many times, whereas I knew Simon a lot better (as we were both Councillors) . I think part of the problem with Simon was that he was saying things he didn’t believe in. In this constituency people are very engaged and very informed and they’ll see through you.”

One of the biggest challenges facing many Labour candidates this year has been the electorate’s apparent disregard for Jeremy Corbyn. And not just the electorate – he’s already survived a vote of no confidence from within his party and Tulip has been a fairly outspoken critic of his, despite the fact that she was the MP to tip him over the line for nominations for the leadership (though she didn’t subsequently vote for him).

Yet in the past couple of weeks, it seems that Corbyn’s popularity has grown and this boost has been behind much of the rise of Labour in the polls. As we enter the final week of campaigning, is he an asset or a liability?

“If you asked me that four weeks ago, when Theresa May called the election I would have definitely said a liability, but I don’t know any more. Maybe his rise in popularity is a reflection that people are craving politicians who are human. I don’t know what to say about Jeremy anymore, because I’m as shocked as everyone!”

There are rumours that a number of Labour MPs are planning on forming a separate parliamentary Labour party after the election. Would Tulip join them? “I’m Labour to the core”, says Tulip. “You don’t make change by shouting from the sidelines, you make changes from within. I was talking to a Labour activist this week and he said he was never a  fan of Tony Blair but he carried on campaigning for Labour and for many it is the same with Jeremy. Leaders come and go but we are the Labour Party”.

Labour’s rally in the polls has been reflected also in the bookmakers’ odds for this seat. They are always to be taken with a large pinch of salt, but they certainly suggest that H&K is no longer a clear Tory win, which many predicted at the start of the campaign. Tulip definitely has a good chance of holding her seat, so what is her biggest worry about the vote now. She is unequivocal. “It’s UKIP saying publicly that they have pulled out to support the Tories. They got 1,500 votes last time, which is bigger than my majority, so there is a big chance that we could wake up on June 9th with a Tory MP because of UKIP votes”.

Not that every Labour voter from 2015 can necessarily be relied on. Hampstead may be the clichéd home of the champagne socialists, but the reality is that the wealthier parts of the constituency vote Tory. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of potential Labour voters in the upper income brackets across H&K. Is Tulip concerned that Labour’s proposed tax rises on the very wealthy will hurt her chances given that she’s going to need every vote to overcome the national swing to the Tories?

She is very clear: “If you want public services to improve and you want money to go into the health services and schools, then where do you expect the money to come from? If you earn more than £90,000 you would have to pay £10 week extra. If I earned £90,000 I would pay that extra £10 a week.”

In 2015, the mansion tax was a bugbear on the campaign trail with areas like Hampstead and West Hampstead having plenty of properties that would have fallen into that category thanks to the rocketing prices of property in the area. That idea has been shelved, but Labour has said that it’s interested in consulting on a land value tax to replace council tax, but it is only a consultation. Tulip argues that revaluing council tax bands is long overdue. “If I were writing the manifesto, or ever became Prime Minister I would do that.”

Of course, we have to discuss the rubbish issue, which has been the biggest local topic for discussion since the fortnightly collection was introduced by Tulip’s Labour colleagues in Camden. “I’ve been shocked by the accusation that I haven’t done anything about the rubbish collection,” she says. “I realise how much it has affected people’s lives. I deal with the casework and as a local resident with a baby I’ve also been affected by the problems [Ed: nappy collections have been just one area that has not gone smoothly]. I may not have gone to papers, as I don’t think that is very constructive, but I met with [the responsible Camden cabinet member] Meric Apak about it back in March. We spoke for a long time – I almost never have hour long meetings with Camden Cabinet members!”

Will those who want to give Labour a kicking over the rubbish issue and can’t wait until next year’s local elections to punish the people actually responsible, push Claire-Louise over the line? It’s possible and Tulip has to contemplate life after just two years as an MP. What would she do?

“It’s hard to think beyond Thursday… so I don’t really know. One of the things about being an MP in an area like this has made me realise is that there is real need for someone to do interfaith work. There is a real need for people to come together. There is a big Jewish community here and a big Muslim one and the lack of interaction between them is astonishing. They are only five minutes down the road from each other and they have still never really interacted.  You probably need someone like me who is equally comfortable with both communities to do something of the bring together.”

“I feel in the light of what happened in Manchester and in light of that fact there is a real threat of terrorism now, that I’d like to do some work looking into the causes of terrorism [Ed: this interview took place the afternoon before the attack on London Bridge on June 3rd]. What do we do to help people who feel so disenfranchised with the society they live in? The work I have done as an MP has shown me there is a big gap we need to address.”

“Whether I win or lose I’m going have to play some part in lobbying for a softer Brexit. I’m working on a legal case with a local QC, Jessica Simor at Matrix, on some legal aspects of Article 50 and I’d like to do something about scrutinising the government.”

Finally, why should someone vote for Tulip Siddiq?

“I am the local candidate who grew up here, went to school here, been a local councillor here, had my baby here. I’ve always put this interests of the constituency first, and will continue to be a strong independent voice for Hampstead & Kilburn”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Compton Collier – West Hampstead’s pioneering society photographer

3. Miss Compton Collier with her plate camera_top

For fifty or even sixty years, Miss Compton Collier, based at West End Lane, Hampstead, has toured the English countryside. With her haversack of heavy photographic equipment, wooden camera and tripod she has stalked the great English families in their lairs.” – Cecil Beaton.

In The Tatler magazine from 1916 to 1948, photographs regularly appeared by ‘Miss Compton Collier, West End Lane’. The earlier pictures were of popular actresses, and then from 1920 onwards they were of society celebrities in their houses and gardens. At the time, she was one of the few woman photographers.

Dorothy Marguerite Cuisset Collier was born on 24 January 1899 at 1 Goulton Road Clapton, near Hackney Downs. She was the only child of Edward Allen Collier who was a distillery manager. By 1911 the family had moved to 28 Victoria Mansions in Willesden.

In November 1919, at St Augustine’s Church in Kilburn, Dorothy married John Davis, a 35-year-old business manager who lived at 22 Kilburn Park Road. She had left home and was living at 115 West End Lane. The witnesses at the wedding were Owen Nares and his wife Marie Pollini, both very popular actors. For most of the 1920s, Nares was Britain’s favourite matinée idol and silent-film star. Dorothy had befriended them during her work for The Tatler, and her photo of them appeared in 1918.

Owen and Marie Nares, Tatler 1918

Owen and Marie Nares, Tatler 1918

In 1922 Dorothy and John moved just six doors down to 103 West End Lane. Dorothy continued to use the professional name she had created of ‘Miss Compton Collier’. Sadly by 1931, their marriage failed and the couple divorced.

In 1966, renowned photographer Cecil Beaton wrote an article called, ‘The Woman who made me want to be a photographer’. This provides the best insight into Miss Compton Collier, and how her pictures influenced the young Beaton:

Many of my adolescent glimpses of the grand world came through the photographs in The Tatler which bore the credit line ‘Miss Compton Collier’. They invariably showed us delightfully fair-haired ladies caught in a silvery light enjoying, in a leisurely manner, the herbaceous borders, clipped yews, stone garden seats and sundials of their country houses. Pouring over these reproductions week after week I came to know Miss Compton Collier’s taste extremely well.

Daphne Du Maurier, Tatler, 4 July 1945

Daphne Du Maurier, Tatler, 4 July 1945

Wherever possible she chose to photograph her subject standing on a piece of flagged path… Balustrades, terraced steps and rustic bridges were also other favourite haunts. Occasionally Miss Compton Collier would sprinkle a successful actress or two among her aristocratic sitters, but these too, would be photographed as far as possible from the atmosphere of the theatre and would be found on holiday, leaning against a gate surrounded by cow parsley, or holding a sheaf of corn in some stable yard. In fact, my earliest family snapshots were mostly made in emulation of Miss Compton Collier…Trying to appear the Ladies and Honourables, or stage stars ‘on holiday’, my wretched schoolgirl sisters would then be made to pose by garden urns or sundials, or among the Japanese anemones and harebells. But, try as I might, my sepia prints, brought from the wash basin of hypo, never acquired the silverpoint effect of the original inspiration.

Other photographs that appeared in The Tatler were attributed to ‘Rita Martin’ and ‘Lallie Charles’ and ‘Basano’, so why, I wondered, should it be ‘Miss Compton Collier’. Who was this lady? I was intrigued to discover her whereabouts but I knew of no one who had ever met her, and her name was not listed in the telephone book.

It was many years after Miss Compton Collier’s photographs had ceased to appear that I heard that she had continued her career with unimpaired zest, and each spring would send to people of high rank an itinerary of her summer tour stating that she would be in the neighbourhood during a certain week in case she were needed for an ‘at home’ sitting. I was intrigued to know that this mysterious lady still existed, so I wrote to ask if she would deign to include me professionally in her schedule and take some pictures of my mother and myself in the garden at Broadchalke. Miss Compton Collier graciously announced her willingness to oblige me. [Ed: this was in 1955].

Miss Compton Collier with her plate camera

Miss Compton Collier with her plate camera

Miss Compton Collier proved to be an extremely agile spinster of over seventy with a pale brown face of minor distinctiveness with the flesh solid and shiny. She was dressed in old-fashioned clothes, somewhat like a land girl of the 1914 war, with large felt hat and flowing skirts. She projected a personality that brooked no nonsense, and no interruption; her main objective was to seek out the nearest flagged path and the most lichen-mottled stone garden ornaments. A slightly forced giggle was part of her stock-in-trade. This softened any of her criticisms and enabled her to make all sorts of observations that, without it, might have caused offence; it was certainly not a giggle from the heart. I felt that Miss Compton Collier did not approve of the decoration of my house; she was only interested, and that for utilitarian reasons, in the bathroom, and the quicker outside the better.

Miss Compton Collier is extremely knowledgeable about gardens: ‘After all, I have photographed eleven thousand of them!’ She knows her England well: ‘Dorset has the best little manor houses. Oxford is where the nouveaux riches live in gardens planned by Sutton’s. That thatched wall is typical of Wiltshire; we must take it quickly – but, oh dear – the horrid sun is coming out! I hate the hard light it gives. Such a bad week last month – sun every day! I loved the summer before rain all the time! People can’t believe it when I photograph them in a downpour. But I say: “I’ll give you your money back if you don’t like it!” Recently in Scotland she had placed a whole tribal family in the garden under umbrellas, and at a given moment ordered the gillies to rush up to take away the umbrellas while the exposure was made.

Miss Compton Collier took pictures of my mother and myself obediently sitting on an old stone seat with the dog at our feet. Behind the camera her performance was dynamic – even acrobatic. In order to stimulate the interest of her subjects she would jump up and down, wave an arm, squeak a rubber dog, and hum in a high musical voice. Suddenly, with a heavy click, the shutters of the lens would open and close. ‘Got it!’ shouted Miss Compton Collier in triumph. Her face was now a matter-of-fact, rather sullen mask. The switch from such inspired enthusiasm to the merely businesslike was somewhat of a shock.

At lunch she told us that for many a donkey’s lifetime now she has lived in a small house in West End Lane, Hampstead, tended by an old servant of seventy-six. Miss Compton Collier appears so strong and healthy that one knows it is true that when she goes to bed it is to sleep so soundly that nothing will disturb her: – not even a bomb. In fact in one raid when the roof was blown off the house and all her rooms but two were destroyed, Miss Compton Collier went on snoring. [Ed: this was the V1 that hit West End Lane in June 1944].

‘Every day of my summer is taken up with work; from April to October I’m busy, so I leave everything else that has to be done to my winter months. I only do shopping in January: if a cup gets broken it has to wait till the first of the year. But I hate shopping in any case – it bores me. Now these clothes I’m wearing were bought fifteen years ago. I never read the papers: they’re so vulgar. I’ve never listened to the radio; I hear everything I want to hear. And I wouldn’t dream of doing the usual things like filling in a census or having a ration book. I just haven’t time. I hardly ever go to a play, but when I do I ring up and find out first if it’s got a nice happy ending because I hate all these squalid dramas that are so much the fashion. I loathe magazines and won’t contribute to them any more now that they’re full of Communist propaganda. I’ve never worked for the Press; if, in the old days, my pictures were used in The Tatler, it was I who chose the people to photograph: I never took people especially for the paper.’

How did you become a photographer?’ I asked. ‘I had a weak heart at school and wasn’t allowed to play games. Someone gave me a camera and I suppose that the artistic feelings, always in my family, came out in my generation in this different way. In another century I would have been a painter.’

Cecil Beaton by Miss Compton Collier, 1955

Cecil Beaton by Miss Compton Collier, 1955

Miss Compton Collier does most of her own photographic processing, and said she was up till three o’clock last night developing plates. All her paraphernalia is entirely obsolescent. She climbs under a dark red velvet cloth attached to her wooden 1895 camera with its long rubber tube with ball-shutter release. Hanging from the wooden tripod is a large bag containing a menagerie of toy dogs, mice and other pets to attract the attention of her aristocratic children and animal sitters. Miss Compton Collier has never visited a photographic exhibition, and shows complete ignorance of the work of other photographers. She had never heard of the work of Steichen, Bill Brandt or Cartier-Bresson. Although she has no further ambitions, she is never bored with her work; each sitting is a thrill for her.

In the silvery prints that resulted from her visit to Broadchalke both my mother and I appeared calm and leisurely, our faces smoothed and our hair silken. We were not only amused, but delighted.

Miss Compton Collier lived in her own closed world with little regard for current events. She took no newspapers; did not own a radio and did not watch television; she relied entirely for news of the world on her Kilburn bank manager. Her bank manager, not unreasonably, said: ‘I shall need some guidance, Miss Collier. If I am to provide you with news of the world, could you give me examples of what you mean?’ ‘Oh, yes’, she said, ‘it is perfectly simple. I mean the death of the sovereign or the outbreak of war’.

103 West End Lane, May 2017

103 West End Lane, May 2017

Dorothy continued to live at Number 103 West End Lane until her death on 27 June 1977 at ‘Chilton House’ a nursing home near Aylesbury. She left £60,361, worth about £340,000 today.

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 next season?

Photo credit: Matt Stuart/Magnum Photos

Photo credit: Matt Stuart/Magnum Photos

Election news

A West Hampstead mum needs to raise £50,000 for operation and physiotherapy for her son Troy. She’s over half way there!

There is a new memorial plaque on West End Lane, for Dave Simcock.

Oh no! The leaks have started again

The Victorian Society took a stroll round West Hampstead.

Police officers were commended for their bravery.

Like living in West Dumpstead? Dumping on (lower) Fordwych Road, (upper) Fordwych Road, Smyrna Road, Crediton Hill and Mill Lane…

Tweet of the week 

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 wanted to run. He said yes – and less than a month later he’s talking to WHL on a park bench in Queen’s Park.

John is a fitness trainer. He left university and couldn’t find a job so he turned his hobby, kickboxing, into a career as a sports coach. He now works with all age groups from the elderly, people with dementia, the disabled and – his real passion – working with kids and toddlers to get them all exercising.

Sopporter, Shaka Lish (Brent Central), John Mansook (H&K) and super-activist Poppy.

L to R: Green supporter, Shaka Lish (Brent Central), John Mansook (H&K) and super-activist Poppy.

The Green Party is definitely at the David rather than the Goliath end of the British political system. It has a small team of local activists, including Poppy – its local secret weapon; but despite increasing evidence of climate change, Green issues have slipped down the agenda. Why aren’t younger members getting involved? “The meetings and politics can be “off-putting for young people,” says John.

The most immediate ‘Green’ issue in this local campaign is recycling and rubbish. John, who lives in Brent, feels that there should be a return to weekly collections in H&K as, despite the good intentions, there isn’t the necessary buy-in. In Brent “they no longer chase you down and give you information”.  As a sports coach he is aware that engagement is key, but is also aware it isn’t easy.

There was some controversy about the Greens putting up a candidate at all in Hampstead and Kilburn. They got 2,387 votes last time – greater than Labour’s winning margin of 1,132 votes. So how would he feel if Tulip lost by a smaller margin that the Green votes? “Personally, anything but Tory. But I wouldn’t say I’m preventing it happening. We did offer to stand down as part of a progressive alliance, but it is a two-way thing and there was no movement by Labour. Ultimately the members of the Camden and Brent Greens wanted a candidate to represent them.  But yes – I’m being asked about that a lot today!”

What has surprised him the most about the campaign? “I have been surprised how supportive and understanding people are. It’s very daunting because this is my first time doing it but for the most part people have been very kind and they recognise you are doing something for your community. It really has taken away a lot of that fear factor about standing”.

Finally, why should we vote for John Mansook? “I’m not your average politician, I’ve been on the receiving end of Conservative and Labour policies; tuition fees, lack of housing. So coming from that perspective I can really empathise with people about how they feel about these issues”.

 

 

 

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 that list. In both 2010 and 2015, Labour managed to retain the seat by narrow margins. In two short years Tulip Siddiq has established her name and profile among H&K voters but with the Conservatives riding high in the polls nationally, will Claire-Louise Leyland be the candidate to finally take the seat? And if she does, what sort of MP will she be?

Like her fellow candidates she lives locally (Primrose Hill), but  was born and grew up in South Africa, although her father hails from Lancashire. She returned to the UK in 1998. Even though her father lived and worked in South Africa as a ex-pat, Claire-Louise says that “he was still very passionate about the Queen, England and Margaret Thatcher – plus he was a strong Liverpool supporter” crediting him with her interest in politics. On her mother’s side her great uncle was an MP (in South Africa).

Claire-Louise Leyland, stood as the ppc in West Tyrone in 2015. Will stand as ppc for H&K in 2017 Image: Ulster Herald.

Claire-Louise Leyland, stood as the ppc in West Tyrone in 2015. Will stand as ppc for H&K in 2017 Image: Ulster Herald.

In the 2015 election, she stood for the Tories in West Tyrone. It’s a Sinn Fein stronghold and the Conservatives don’t traditionally fare well in Northern Ireland. No great surprise then that she came eighth out of nine candidates with less than 200 votes, but it was of course a valuable experience. Claire-Louise also felt it was important the Conservatives stood so voters had a national choice, to help move away from any sectarian mindsets. It’s an unusual rationale, but stems from her experience growing up under apartheid in South Africa and from her work for the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD).

With the WFD she has worked in Bosnia (seven times), Georgia and Moldova. “They send out people to strengthen democratic organisations, such as women’s groups,” she explains. She has also worked as a voluntary therapist with children in South Africa and on the Syrian borders helping those with PTSD.  Her work focuses on art therapy and as well as being a practising therapist she also runs a masters programme training art therapists.  It’s an atypical  background for a Conservative candidate.

In the referendum, Claire-Louise campaigned for Remain, though has now aligned herself with the Conservative party policy on Brexit, when she could have taken a softer approach.  Why?

“It was a very difficult choice in the referendum,” she say. “I knew I was going to vote for Remain which is why I campaigned for them. I respect the fact that everyone across the country had the opportunity to think about the issues and make a choice and we need to respect the democratic institutions… there was an enormous amount of information summing up both sides of the issue in the mainstream press. So people had the information to make the decision… A choice was made, a decision was reached and if there were flaws in the system all we can do at this point is learn from them for the future, but we have to accept the decision that was reached.”

Of course, Hampstead & Kilburn is clearly Remain country, so inevitably not everyone she meets in her campaigning agrees with her. Her ward of Belsize has 1,400 resident EU citizens. “I’m meeting people whose lives are in limbo and who have a sense they are not in control of their future. Having grown up in South Africa in a state of emergency it was something I have experienced”. So her message to EU nationals is that she’s aware of the uncertainty around their future and believes this is an issue that needs to be decided at the start of negotiations.

When asked about how Remain voters will vote in this election, she played the Jeremy Corbyn card; saying that whatever the reason behind their referendum vote – personal, business or European idealism – “they are all concerned about having Jeremy Corbyn leading our country in the Brexit negotiations. We have to make a decision about who will lead our country.”

One positive sign for the future is that Claire-Louise has noticed that people are showing a greater interest in politics since the referendum. She thinks that not everyone is taking on the challenge of how you use your time and energy to engage with the issues. Her experiences in eastern Europe showed how alien the idea of having agency within their community was to some people – she cites an example of people complaining about litter but never picking it up, or even realising they could; which clearly resonates in Camden.

“In this country you think everyone knows they have a voice and can get engaged. When I moved here it never occurred to me that people wouldn’t feel able to shape their country, but I have worked in Hackney and there are kids who don’t recognise this.”

During this short election campaign, Claire-Louise has talked much about her “plan” for Hampstead & Kilburn, but has not elaborated much further. The Conservative manifesto was just being been published when we spoke, and she said that then she would set out a clearer message about what that would look like for the constituency. She does say the usual sort of things about residents having someone who will listen to them, talk with them, hold Camden and Brent councils to account as well as the Mayor of London. She talks about ensuring that education, housing, policing and other services are delivering the right results for our community, transport and infrastructure. To be honest, it’s still not clear what her “plan” is, but now that the manifesto has been published, she will be able to clarify, hopefully at Tuesday’s hustings!

“I believe there should be real scrutiny and evidence-based decision making and that local people’s needs should be at the heart of thinking. What I don’t want to see is the Labour Mayor of London and two Labour councils using our area to rebuild the Labour party. As a community we can’t have our needs put second to a part of the Labour party”.

Claire-Louise Leyland campaigning (on the edge) of West Hampstead

Claire-Louise Leyland campaigning in (or on the edge of) West Hampstead

She talks extensively about local government, and suggests that while Camden Labour blames local cuts on central government funding cuts, in fact there was “an extraordinary amount of duplication of services and inefficiency, a lack of clear evaluation and lack of accountability,” when she was elected in 2010. “My understanding of what the government was trying to do was to make the system of [local] government more accountable, more efficient and better integrated.” She says that overall, she thinks “local government is a much tighter, much better system. I think it is a pathfinder for the how the NHS can adapt to change.”

Aside from Brexit, what other issues are coming up on the doorstep?

“Waste and recycling, but also schools funding. London schools are now the best across the country. I have been working in schools across London since 2001 so I see that they have high levels of need and that needs sufficient funding.” Notably, Labour controls more than twice as many London boroughs – which are responsible for education provision but not funding – as the Conservatives. The Conservatives have pledged that no school will have its budget cut and the total budget will rise by £4 billion over the next parliament.

In West Hampstead specifically, Claire-Louise cites concern about the level of overcrowding at the Underground and Overground stations, and also says community safety is being raised. “We really need to take care with the Pathfinder model, i.e., the integration of Camden and Islington police forces doesn’t leave the outer edges of the boroughs worse off”.

Overall, she seems to fall fairly squarely behind her leader by adopting a relatively interventionist approach for the state. “The system functions well in many ways but where it does not then it is right for the Government to intervene.” Council tax is a good example – with the rate being based on 1991 property values. “Once Brexit negotiations have put us in a secure position, it will be time to tackle issues such as a revaluation. That will an opportunity to refine the system”.

If, in the early hours of June 9th, Claire-Louise is our next MP, what can we expect from her? “I’m interested in being a constituency MP. I’ve come into this because this is the area I want to serve. You don’t have to be in Government as there are many other ways you can influence outcomes. You can sit on APPGs [All-Party Parliamentary Groups] and do all sorts of work at committee stage. Every layer of the system is just as important – I like to do the bit I’m doing to the best of my ability”.

Of course, had the election come after the proposed boundary commission changes (which could still happen), then Barnet’s Mike Freer would likely have been the candidate. Should Claire-Louise and Mike both win this time around, who then would stand for a new seat? “Honestly? I don’t know”, she said, looking slightly sheepish. “That’s politics!” she agreed.

Finally (and without using the words “strong and stable”), why should someone vote for Claire-Louise Leyland? “Because I am incredibly committed to our area, proven that I can get results for our community and I will work hard on your behalf”.

WHL Hustings 2017: Tuesday 23rd May 7.30pm

The 2015 #Whampstead hustings

The 2015 West Hampstead Life/Sherriff Centre hustings

H&K promises once again to be closely fought battle and West Hampstead is the marginal bit of a marginal constituency.

Given the snap election, hustings have been thin on the ground in 2017 – in fact we don’t know of any large-scale hustings at all. We’re therefore very pleased to announce that we’ve teamed up again with the Sherriff Centre and you’ll have the chance to grill your candidates on Tuesday evening at St James’ Church.

Many of you will remember that we held a successful hustings in 2015, with more than 200 people attending. We appreciate this year’s is short notice, but hopefully lots of you will be able to make it.

To make the evening flow smoothly, we’re encouraging you to send questions in advance – the candidates will not see these beforehand. We will then ask some of the popular submitted questions before handing over to the floor.

To send a question, simply drop me an email before midday on Tuesday. There will also be a question box in St James’ Church over the next few days.

Format:
Each candidate will get a 4-minute slot to pitch themselves, and then we will structure the evening in three parts. First, questions on Brexit, then questions on other national issues (incl. foreign policy), and then questions on local issues. If we have time then there’ll be time for free questions at the end.

Doors open at 7pm, we will start at 7.30pm. We will aim to finish around 9.15pm. The Sherriff Centre café/bar will be open. We’d like to encourage floating voters to sit at the front (but you might need to get there early).

Live streaming
We are planning to livestream the event on Facebook in case you can’t make it. You’ll need to Like the West Hampstead Life FB page and keep your eyes peeled around that time.

We very much hope you can make it. All the predictions are that this will be a tight race – come and hear from the candidates and make an informed choice.

H&K 2017: The Kirsty Allan interview

Kirsty Allan, Liberal Democrat candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn

Kirsty Allan, Liberal Democrat candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn

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, the Lib Dems moved swiftly to put candidates in place in case of a snap election. Kirsty was delighted to have been asked if she would stand.

Her 2015 Westminster North campaign was clearly a struggle. The result was disappointing with the Lib Dems beaten into fourth place by UKIP with just 1,457 votes (that was a 3.7% share, down from 13.9% in 2010). The constituency was always an unlikely win for the Liberal Democrats and Kirsty said it was great to get the experience and understanding of what it takes to run in an election. She also got a large taste of what is involved from helping Lynn Featherstone in the election. Featherstong was MP for Hornsey & Wood Green from 2005 to 2015.

Kirsty points out that being a Liberal Democrat – especially these days – means there are no such thing as safe seats. She argues that they really have to fight for every vote, attend every hustings, knock on every door.  “We have to put the work in to become an MP.”

She claims that she is Lib-Dem bred, rather than having moved into the party. Both she and her sister learned their Lib Demery at the knee of her father, who has always voted for the party since its inception in the late 1980s.  This interest in politics and Lib Dem politics in particular led Kirsty to apply to work in Lynn Featherstone’s constituency office, which she did for three years. Kirsty said that having dealt with Lynn’s constituency and parliamentary casework she has a real sense of what it takes to be an MP.

Despite her family Liberal Democrat roots, it was only a year after working for Lynn that she joined as a member.

Kirsty, unsurprisingly, is keen to look back to 2010 in H&K, when the constituency was a true three-way battle. Indeed, Lib Dem candidate Ed Fordham was many people’s favourite to win, though eventually he came a very close third. However, she says there is no denying what happened in 2015, “We really did get swept out with the tide then. But the world changed for us after the Brexit vote. Nick Clegg was the only leader to take on Nigel Farage in the debates. It is obvious to us that is our fight, we want to represent the 48% – indeed in this constituency the 76% who voted for Remain.”

Kirsty’s Labour rival, incumbent MP Tulip Siddiq, has also been vocally anti Brexit. Kirsty respects Tulip’s individual position, but points out that the Labour party’s position is unclear and therefore Tulip is at odds with her party.

In 2015, the Lib Dem’s high profile H&K candidate Maajid Nawaz got just 6% of the votes (down from 31.2% for Ed Fordham in 2010). Does Kirsty accept that she might get relatively few votes if some Lib Dem voters decide Labour has a better chance of keeping the Tories out? Kirsty points out that there is a lot of support for the Lib Dems around here (though of course they lost five out of six council seats in 2015). “At the moment we have a message that resonates. It is important that voters have someone they agree with to put a tick against. That’s what democracy is about.” She accepts that if people want to vote tactically then they will, but does not believe there is much sign of that happening.

Kirsty and Lib Dem activists out on the campaign trail

Kirsty and Lib Dem activists out on the campaign trail

The Gospel Oak council by-election on May 4th could give Kirsty and the party some succour. Labour retained the seat with 1,485 votes, but the Lib Dems came second with 587 votes, more than doubling their share from 2014. She suggests that it’s evidence that in Camden, “the Lib Dems are on the rise!”

Despite the battering the party took in the 2015 election, Kirsty believes that the momentum is swinging back to them. “The party had a huge swell across London after the Brexit vote, with more than 1,000 members in the Camden Lib Dems. There’s a 17-year-old girl who helps me every time I’m handing out leaflets – she is very energised. The new influx of members is young, the largest number is in the 18-24 age group”.

“After two years of a ‘pure’ Tory Government after the coalition, a lot of people are feeling warmer towards the Liberal Democrats,” she suggests. National polls would suggest this is true, but not yet as warm as the days of ‘I agree with Nick’ in 2010. Then they took 23% of the national vote, but that slumped to just 7.9% in 2015. Today’s polls put support at around 10%.

Does the influx of young people to the party mean they see it as best-placed to tackle the broad challenges we face today? It is notable that for a party that preaches inclusivity, the few MPs it has are traditional ‘men in suits’, bar the recent addition of one woman. Yet the party strives to “reflect its diverse membership”.

When questioned further on this, specifically about Tim Farron’s recent poor handling of the issue of whether he thinks homosexuality is a sin, Kirsty does indeed become uncomfortable trying to explain his stance (he initially refused to answer the question, several times, before deciding to positively assert that he did not – perhaps trapped by trying to adhere to a philosophically robust “liberal” position, without realising that the electorate generally isn’t that nuanced). Kirsty herself is far more unequivocal. “One of the main reasons I applied to work for Lynn [Featherstone] was that I was so impressed with her work on the same-sex marriage initiative”.

Given that no party reflects an individual’s personal beliefs perfectly, what Lib Dem policies does Kirsty struggle with? “I was never a massive fan of the mansion tax, but I am in favour of reassessing the council tax bands. At the moment it is ridiculous that a house worth £7 million pays an amount calculated from 1991 data and values. ”

Warming to the housing theme, “the problem in this constituency,” she argues, “is that the average wage is £33,000, while the average property price is over £700,000. So owning a home is becoming a pipe dream. Increasingly, I see people priced out of the market, and even ‘affordable’ rents are extremely high. I do feel we should be doing more to make sure London is affordable. First of all you stop selling council houses and if you do, use that money to reinvest and build more council homes. It’s logic.”

She say is “seems bizarre” that the Conservatives don’t get more flak for failing to act on the housing crisis. “We are living in a city that will exclude those earning under £130,000 from buying anything in this area of London, and that’s absurd.”

From national, to London, to local issues. Kirsty is running into some familiar grumbles on the doorsteps of H&K. “On the Camden side, there are a lot of problems with the rubbish collection. We are in favour of people doing more recycling but the introduction of the new bins and system does not seem to be working yet. Everybody is concerned that foxes get into their rubbish. When I was helping in our Gospel Oak campaign, rubbish was second only to Brexit as the main issue.” Though of course it didn’t stop Labour from holding the council seat.

“The NHS is also worrying people, and education, and to some extent crime.” In a cruel twist of fate, at the very moment we were discussing crime my wallet was being pinched from my rucksack in Costa.

“But Brexit comes up in every conversation. The first thing people say is that they’re very upset about it.” Presumably about 25% are not, but Kirsty doesn’t mention that. “A lot of people are also worried that all the other issues will be drowned out by the Brexit chorus. If we end up on WTO rules that’s not good for the economy and if the economy is weak it puts further pressure on funding for services.”

If she was to be elected on June 8th, her priorities are health and education – she has friends who are teachers and they don’t have enough money to do the things they want to do in schools. “I don’t think there can ever be an over-funding of education – we have to make sure that children get the best possible start. I’m very much about defending those social liberal values and believe feverently in equality.”

As for being a constituency MP, “I think I learned quite well at Lynn’s knee – she was always out meeting people, attending events and as a Lib Dem MP you need to be visible and have an open door, always being responsive, holding surgeries, talking to people face-to-face.” Some would argue that Tulip has done a good job of this in her brief tenure as our MP. “I respect Tulip – I think she been a good local MP – but I’m standing so that people have a chance to vote for a Liberal Democrat candidate.”

What has surprised her most about her second tilt at Westminster? “The reception on the doorstep,” she says emphatically. “I campaigned in 2015 and it wasn’t an easy time to be a Liberal Democrat. It’s very different this time around. I knew that we had a message that resonated on Brexit but I didn’t realise quite the level of support.”

The final question: Why should I vote for Kirsty Allan? “This is a constituency that really, really wants a voice that is going to resonate with them and I am entirely pro-European and will respect the will of the 76% of people that voted for Remain. And it is not just about Brexit, I want to be an MP that will work hard for Hampstead & Kilburn.”

Will West Hampstead have a rosy view of Rosa’s Thai Café?

It was Bank Holiday Monday, we were on the way back from a swim at Swiss Cottage, and feeling a bit peckish. Time to try West Hampstead’s newest kid in town – Rosa’s Thai Cafe. We were not alone. The place was pretty full when we arrived past 1pm and got even fuller over lunch.

Aurevoir Ladudu, hello Rosa's.

Au revoir Ladudu, hello Rosa’s Thai Cafe.

The team has done a quick and efficient job at refurbishing the old Ladudu, but it did feel a little corporate. The decor is a mix of industrial and Scandi-chic (Scandustrial?) with little reference to Asia, unlike Ladudu. I had to stop myself from getting up to scuff the perfect walls a bit. In the background a gentle Ibiza soundtrack. All nice enough but could have been anywhere.

The staff were nice and friendly and coping well with a busy dining room. In fact the manager later confessed that they have been busier than expected since it opened last week. Still having teething troubles though – their phone number doesn’t work, yet.

Rosa’s offers both an evening and (cheaper and simpler) weekday lunch menu, although as it was a bank holiday we were offered the main dinner menu with dishes priced slightly above that other West Hampstead stalwart, BananaTree.

Despite being busy we didn’t have to wait too long to order, or for our food to arrive. As it was a self-imposed meat-free Monday I stuck to the vegetarian options – there were plenty – ordering the chilli and Thai basil stir-fry while my dining companion ordered crispy salmon in curry sauce plus a green papaya salad and coconut rice to share. For drinks we had raw coconut water and lemongrass tea, both good and exactly what I feel like drinking when eating Asian food – different options that nearby Pham House doesn’t alas offer.

Bank holiday lunch.

Bank holiday lunch.

The menu has a good selection of dishes – some favourites (its website says that across its other eight branches Rosa’s has served over 400,000 pad thais) plus other regional dishes. The salmon was the best dish we ordered, while the stir-fry was OK but the salad lacked a bit of bite. However, the mix of flavours got better as the meal went on and we finished it all off. The bill, including service, came to just under £50 (£25 a head), which felt about right.

It's thumbs up for Rosa's.

It’s thumbs up for Rosa’s.

Thanks to Teresa for passing on the baton to Rosa’s. It was her choice of restaurant to replace Ladudu. Part of me is a little sad that chain (albeit a mini-chain) Rosa’s is able to do better what she was doing. But Rosa’s is also about the personality and both by the door and on the website you can pick up recipes from founder Saiphin so you can cook some of the dishes yourself.

The future for Rosa’s Thai Cafe in West Hampstead looks rosy.

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 guillotine or or didn’t like the patination (i.e. it’s rusty).

And the clock is up. As seen by @VHaberdashery

And the clock is up. As seen by @VHaberdashery

Election news …

  • The Greens have chosen John Mansook as their candidate for H&K. There is talk of collaboration with other parties (ie, Labour).
  • Unsurprisingly, given the tight battle ahead, both Tories and Labour fear “leakage to the Lib Dems” [paywall].
  • Andy Burnham said there was “too much Hampstead and not enough Hull” in today’s Labour Party. Tulip’s just hoping there is still enough Labour Party in Hampstead & Kilburn.
  • Former local Labour councillor Mike Katz is seeking selection as Labour’s PPC in Hendon.
  • There’s a straw in the wind this week with the Gospel Oak by-election.
  • It’s all getting a bit Game of Thrones.

West Hampstead’s favourite stall at the farmers’ market is officially Brinkworth Dairy. We got the lowdown on its success.

Our historian uncovered the strange story of a local diamond broker. And he will be at the Library on Tuesday with tales of WW1 spies in Camden.

Nazanin’s appeal to the Iranian High court was turned down – and reported from the Wall Street Journal to the China Daily.

Fire fighter Dave Allen left West Hampstead after 30 years of service. Good bye!

But what’s 30 years? A Broadhurst Gardens couple celebrated 71 years of marriage.

Police are looking for a man who exposed himself on the Thameslink. And are also asking for any information after a man exposed himself on the Black Path (back in December).

So – glad to see that progress is being made of clearing up the Black Path.

Camden’s new garden waste contract is still causing confusion. You can sign up on Camden’s website (and see who in your postcode has signed up). You can club together with a neighbour informally to share a collection – rather than just dumping your waste in their bags, not just dump in their waste in your bags as some are doing.

Time Out reported 14 things to do West End Lane, and its annual round up of top coffee shops included the Sanctuary Café in the Sherriff Centre and Loft (at the top of Greencroft Gardens) but missed Wired. Pah!

Rosa’s Thai opened to a good start.

A husband and wife team opened a new Osteopathy/Psychology practice at 322 West End Lane.

The Londonist took a nostalgic look at Kilburn, no longer Ireland’s 33rd County.

Local artist Zoe Grace, who has an up and down life, is taking part in an exhibition in Fitzrovia.

Tweet of the week

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) from Hill End Farm, which has been in the family for five generations since 1910. It’s a small 180-acre farm in North Wiltshire, with 100 grass-fed pedigree British Friesians dairy cows. Future plans include offering camping on the farm (and updating the website to include the award of West Hampstead’s farmers market favourite stall).

Every morning Chad gets up at 4.30 to bring in the cows for milking and at the weekend he then gets ready to set off for farmers markets in West Hampstead (Saturday) and Queen’s Park (Sundays).  He’s helped out here sometimes by a local friend, although this weekend he brought along two of his boys, who were selling jars of Chad’s honey – and sold it all.

Brinkworth Dairy, favourite stall at West Hampstead Market

Brinkworth Dairy, favourite stall at West Hampstead Market

Chad, what brought you West Hampstead?

London Farmers’ Market brought me here. Originally I had a stall with them at Queen’s Park as well as Marylebone, they were finding new venues and about four years ago they asked if I wanted to try their new market at West Hampstead. It was a good market from the start – some other markets start off well but then tail-off – but here things started well and continued to grow.  I like to do the work myself so decided to stick to West Hampstead and Queen’s Park and leave Marylebone.

What is your favourite memory of the area?

It was actually when I needed to go Sainsburys to buy some sugar for the stall and I kept on being greeted by customers. It was strange that here I was walking through London, but it felt like being back in my own village. Nice memory.

What was your first impression of West Hampstead?

I set up at the first market with my friend Seb, who had grown up here and so have mainly seen it through his eyes. He was amazed how much it had changed, and rather regretted his parents had sold their house here.

The first customers were really pleased that the space outside the station was being used. I knew a few of them from Queen’s Park market, they were also pleased they didn’t have go so far for their coffee, cheese and yogurt.

Cheese, glorious cheese, milk, yogurt and butter. Highly recommended by @thewetfishcafe

Cheese, glorious cheese, milk, yogurt and butter. Blue cheese highly recommended by @thewetfishcafe

What has surprised you about the way West Hampstead has changed?

Even in the short space of time I have been coming I have seen the skyline change. When I chat to someone new, often a couple, buying a coffee I’ll discover that they are looking at property in the area.

What’s for lunch?

A pizza from Napoli, the new pizza stall – usually with a samosa from Mumbai Mix (they have the stall next to mine at Queen’s Park). Otherwise it might be a burger from James, or a sausage roll.  But pizza is the new thing.

Conversely, when I’m setting up my stall at 8.45 all the other stallholders are polite enough but what they are really saying is ‘hurry up, please, I want my coffee!”

West Hampstead in three(ish) words?

Nice sense of community.

Farmers’ market update

For those of you that have read this far – changes to the farmers’ market are on the cards. There is talk of extending to Sunday and even running it some weekday evenings.

 

 

 

 

Claire-Louise Leyland chosen as Tory candidate for Hampstead & Kilburn

The local Conservative party held its constituency selection meeting last night in the Dennington Park Road synagogue hall – a special general meeting called at short notice after Theresa May’s surprise election announcement. Hampstead & Kilburn is a key target seat for them.

The local party had sent a shortlist to Central Office which initially included local party leader Claire-Louise Leyland, rising star Henry Newman – a wannabe Highgate councillor – and existing Camden councillor Siobhan Baillie. However, it seems that Siobhan either declined to stand or was dropped and when the list returned from Conservative central office it included a new name: London Assembly member Kemi Badenoch.

Tory selection meeting about to start. Image: @richardosley

Tory selection meeting about to start. Image: @richardosley

During the meeting, each candidate made a five minute personal statment, then answered the same four questions; on Brexit, the constituency being a marginal, changes to education funding and HS2. This was followed by 20 minutes of questions from the floor. Of the 700 local members, 142 turned out.

Kemi Badenoch was up first. She is the deputy-leader of the GLA Conservatives and on the GLA since 2015; her Tory credentials extend to having a husband who is a Conservative councillor. She had only found out she was on the shortlist at 11.30 yesterday morning and hadn’t even had time to go home to Wimbledon and change. Given the short notice and lack of “home advantage”, she put up a creditable performance.

Next came Claire-Louise Leyland, a familiar face to the audience as leader, since 2014, of the Camden Conservative group. She grew up in South Africa (but says her dad is as Lancashire as stick of Blackpool rock). She works as a professional art therapist and counsellor, and has spent seven years as a Conservative councillor. She campaigned for Remain last year. She had the advantage of knowing many people in the room – indeed even the room itself – as her first venture into politics was as a council candidate for the ward of West Hampstead.

The final candidate was rising bin-selfie star Henry Newman. Henry is director of Open Europe, having been a special advisor at the Justice Department for Michael Gove and at the Cabinet office. He’s only had limited media experience but was a polished performer.

As well as the four standard questions other issues that came up were the pensions triple lock, Brexit (again), the rights of EU residents, the “yellow peril” posed by the Lib Dems, Tulip, housing and inter-generational fairness.

After the first count no candidate had got a clear majority – apparently the vote was fairly evenly spread but third placed candidate Kemi dropped out.

Claire-Louise Leyland, stood as the ppc in West Tyrone in 2015. Will stand as ppc for H&K in 2017 Image: Ulster Herald.

Claire-Louise Leyland, stood as the ppc in West Tyrone in 2015. Will be ppc for H&K in 2017. Image: Ulster Herald.

In the second round of voting, Claire-Louise Leyland won to become the prospective parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn. In her short winners speech she said it was a privilege to have been selected.

Will she be the candidate to see Hampstead & Kilburn turn Conservative on June 9th? Labour’s Tulip Siddiq and the Lib Dems’ Kirsty Allan will be hoping not

Victim or thief? The strange story of the West Hampstead diamond broker

Leonard Tom – Leon to his friends – was a diamond broker. He was born in Amsterdam in 1890, but lived at several addresses in West Hampstead during his life. His family came to England in 1896, and when Leonard was 16 he joined his father in the diamond trade.

After his marriage in 1922 Leonard lived at 57 Greencroft Gardens. He was already well respected in Hatton Garden, where brokers acted as middle men, taking jewels on approval from merchants to show to prospective clients for sale on commission. In the 1930s it was common for the brokers to meet on the street or in kosher cafes around Hatton Garden to look at the goods and agree the price on a handshake. This practice continued until the war, when trade moved behind closed doors in secure premises. The London Diamond Bourse opened in 1940 in Greville Street near the junction with Hatton Garden.

In February 1932, Leonard Tom was living at 190a West End Lane (near today’s Tesco Express). At 10.30am on February 5th, Leonard Tom visited Messrs M. Gerder and Co. at Hatton House in Holborn. It was a trip he had made many times before. On this day he chose several pieces of jewellery valued at £12,350 (about £700,000 today). He then went to a café in Charles Street in ‘the Garden’ and then on to Old Bond Street to try to sell the diamonds. But the trade, like many others during the depression, was going through a difficult time and the diamond mines in Africa had closed down. There were no buyers at the right price and after lunch at Maison Lyons, a restaurant on Oxford Street opposite Bond Street Station, he decided on the spur of the moment to turn down Gilbert Street.

Oxford Street in the 1920s

Oxford Street in the 1920s

Leonard was halfway down this quiet road which runs between Oxford Street and Brook Street, when he was attacked by two men outside St Anselm’s School. They covered his face with a ‘treacle plaster’- brown paper covered in treacle which stopped him seeing anything. It was a technique copied from a famous ‘Treacle Plaster Robbery’ of a cashier in 1912.

The robbers snatched Leonard’s briefcase containing the diamonds and got away in a stolen car, which was later found abandoned in Cavendish Square. Henry Stenner, the school caretaker, witnessed the attack. He said the car had been waiting outside the school and described the men. The police were soon able to arrest Alfred Philpot and William Baldock who Stenner picked out from a line up. At their trial they were found guilty of robbery and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Baldock was a 34-year-old piano finisher with a scar on each cheek and tattoos of a snake, a dagger, a tombstone, flowers, a woman and Buffalo Bill on his back. Philpot who was 28, had five previous convictions for stealing cars and an assault on a policeman.

The thieves may have been found, but the jewels were not. Gerder and Co., which was a very large company with an international reputation, claimed on its Lloyds insurance policy but the underwriters declined to pay. They pointed to a clause that exempted them from liability for any loss caused by theft or dishonesty by a broker. In short, they were saying that Leonard Tom, who had a spotless reputation, had stolen the diamonds.

A year later, the civil case came for trial to be heard before Justice Humphries without a jury. By now, Leonard had moved to 16 Cleve Road. The defence barristers talked about the normal day-to-day work of brokers in Hatton Garden, where millions of pounds worth of jewellery was traded in coffee shops, and where gangs of crooks were on the lookout for a chance to snatch a bag or briefcase. In the witness box, Leonard described the attack, which was so quick he had no time to react before his case was snatched.

Philpot was brought from Chelmsford Prison to give evidence. Standing with warders next to him in the box, he said that in January 1932, Leonard Tom had met him, Baldock and another man called Mark, who he assumed was the gang leader, and two other un-named men, in a teashop in Hatton Garden to plan the robbery. He said Leonard had taken them to Gilbert Street to survey the scene. Philpot was the driver tasked with stealing a car in Camden Town. After the attack, he said they met in a pub in Smithfield where they divided £200 for their part in the robbery. Leonard was pressed very hard by the barrister, and admitted that times were difficult and that in the previous six months he had earned only about £100 (today worth about £6,500). But he denied planning the attack with the gang and said he was completely innocent.

In his summing up, the judge said that if this had indeed been a real hold-up it was a most remarkable thing. He made much of the fact that the attack happened in a quiet side street where the thieves were waiting beside their car. How could they have known Leonard Tom would take that route unless he had told them? It was also strange that Leonard did not defend himself, although he had fought in the war, where he was promoted from a private to a lieutenant in the Tank Corps. The judge visited Gilbert Street and concluded the robbery must have been pre-planned. After carefully weighing all the evidence, Justice Humphries said it was a painful decision because of the consequences for Leonard Tom, but he found in favour of Lloyds against Messrs Gerder.

As a result, Leonard Tom was arrested on 20 June 1933 for conspiring with two men to commit a bogus robbery, and committed for trial at the Old Bailey. In July the jury listened to the same evidence that Justice Humphries had heard, but could not reach agreement, and a new trial was called. At the second trial the new jurors heard a director of Messrs Gerder say they still had complete confidence in Leonard’s honesty. This time the jury agreed and found him not guilty. Leonard stayed at Cleve Road until his death on 24 June 1943. He left £876 (worth about £35,000 today), to his widow Dora.

What do you think – was he innocent or did he arrange the bogus robbery?

Election fever hits West Hampstead, again.

West Hampstead library at 8.30am on polling day 2015 via Rita Tudela

West Hampstead library at 8.30am on polling day 2015 via Rita Tudela

For the third year running, voting fever is upon us. Hampstead & Kilburn looks like being a key battleground once again as Brexit clashes with broader political and party-political issues to muddy the waters for many voters.

To be honest, like Brenda, I’m not sure I can take much more. We love West Hampstead because it’s a nice place to live, but it’s the marginal bit of a marginal seat – and therefore politically interesting. Indeed, Channel 4 News has already been vox-popping Kilburnites (Labour activists may want to look away).

So far, only two of the three main parties here have candidates. Labour’s Tulip Siddiq will be trying to hold the seat and her job as MP, while the Lib Dems were well ahead of the game selecting Kirsty Allan some months ago. The Conservatives will choose their candidate on Tuesday.

Campaigning won’t begin in earnest until after Parliament is dissolved on May 2, and the deadline for candidates isn’t until 11 May – so plenty of time for the Greens, UKIP and whoever else fancies a tilt to come out of the woodwork.

The #Whampstead 2015 hustings

The 2015 West Hampstead Life hustings (yes, that is PJ O’Rourke in the front row)

The not-to-be-missed West Hampstead Life hustings (I think the largest in the constituency in 2015), will be sometime at the end of May – the precise date is t.b.d. Election day itself is June 8.

Setting the stage

If you’re new to West Hampstead, then here’s a quick primer on the constituency’s recent electoral history.

Back in 2010, it was a three horse race with Glenda Jackson (MP for the area since 1992) unexpectedly holding the seat with the slimmest of majorities – just 42 votes separated her and Conservative Chris Philp (now an MP in Croydon). Lib Dem Ed Fordham was very close behind – just another 800 votes behind Chris – making H&K the tightest three-way in the country.

Five years later, that Lib Dem support collapsed from 31% to just 6% and H&K was a straight Tory/Labour dogfight. Yet again, the Conservatives were pipped at the post when Tulip Siddiq took 44.4% of the vote to Simon Marcus’s 42.3%: a margin of victory of less than 2% and less than 1,200 votes.

In 2017, the national political landscape looks very different. Depending which polls you read, the Conservatives are on about 48%, Labour on 24%, Lib Dems 12% and UKIP 7% (Times/YouGov – April 19).

Hampstead and Kilburn is in the top 25 Conservative target seats so if the national swing of ~7% to the Tories was replicated locally, they would win comfortably. They only need a 1% swing from Labour to take the seat.

But Brexit complicates matters. Theresa May has put Brexit front and centre of this election, but Camden was one of the 10 most pro-Remain areas in the country, with 74.9% voting Remain last year. In addition, Labour’s Tulip Siddiq has been a prominent Brexit rebel within Labour, voting against the party on Article 50. Nevertheless, Labour has clearly stated already that it will not seek a second referendum should it get elected in June.

The 2017 candidates

Just to show how much of a surprise the election announcement was, the Conservatives are in the embarrassing position of not having a candidate yet. This is because of plans to change constituency boundaries, which would have led to Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer becoming the candidate for a new Hampstead and Golders Green seat. These boundary changes might still happen, but not until after this election.

The Conservatives will not be holding another ‘open primary’ to pick their candidate, as they did in 2010. Instead a members’ meeting on Tuesday will choose someone from Central Office’s pre-approved list, which includes current leader Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland and Cllr Siobhan Baillie (both of whom were in favour of Remain). Central Office could parachute in a candidate, even a Brexiteer, but this would more likely damage rather than enhance their chances in the seat. One prominent former Tory has already announced how he will vote, and it won’t be Conservative. Indeed, he will be helping too.

For Labour, Tulip has announced (albeit in rather vague terms on social media) that she will stand for the constituency.

Tulip campaigning in 2015. Photo by Eugene Regis

Tulip campaigning in 2015. Photo by Eugene Regis

It seems the snap election will prevent the re-selection (deselection in some cases!) process for many Labour MPs, but the divisions in the Labour party won’t help their chances. Dan Hodges, Glenda Jackson’s son, former member of the Labour party and Corbyn critic, has already announced who he is voting for – the Tories. It seems he is not alone in his doubts as many Labour supporters, including this prominent one, have expressed concerns over Corbyn’s leadership.

The Lib Dems chose their candidate last autumn. She is Kirsty Allan, she works in PR and has worked for MPs Lynn Featherstone and Norman Lamb. The Lib Dems have the obvious advantage of having a clear Remain stance – but with only one councillor left on Camden – Fortune Green’s own Flick Rea – the Lib Dem central office seems to be focusing resources elsewhere. In 2015, Kirsty ran in neighbouring Westminster North, where she come in fourth with 3.7% of the vote, just behind UKIP with 3.8%.

Kirsty Allan, Lib Dem candidate. Image @kirstyrallan

Kirsty Allan, Lib Dem candidate. Image @kirstyrallan

Expect to see street stalls on West End Lane and outside Finchley Road Waitrose in the coming weeks as all the parties ratchet up their election machines. There are still local elections for much of the country to deal with first on May 4th (and a council by-election in Gospel Oak to divert attention locally), but then it should be all guns blazing.

Did the Kilburn sun shine on Summers dining?

There been a ‘pop-up’ take-over of our usual food reviewer’s spot, Tom’s Diner, as WHL pulled rank to review Summer’s dining.

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, three young guys have taken over the Sir Colin Campbell on Kilburn High Road and are collaborating with Ruairidh Summers, an ex-St. John’s chef on his first solo venture. Perhaps we were too enthusiastic in promoting it because when we tried to book a table in the restaurant there was only room downstairs in the bar, but by time we arrived a table had become available upstairs.

WHL had some friends over from Neukolln in Berlin (it’s where people from Hackney move now that Hackney has been come too gentrified and expensive). How did they find Summers?

They certainly felt at home with the decor which had East End/Berlin/Williamsburg distressed paintwork furnished with simple chairs and tables plus an extensive gin menu and choice of beer and cider. No Hoxton cider though, as it was out of stock.

Kilburn via Hackney/Williamsburg/Berlin

Kilburn via Hackney/Williamsburg/Berlin

When it came to ordering food, the suggestion is that dishes are ordered ‘for sharing’. Ruairidh is Irish, so appropriately – for a pub in Kilburn – there is an Irish flavour to the menu, with crubeens (deep fried pigs trotters) as one of the starters. We also ordered asparagus (nice and seasonal) with whipped cod’s roe, which had a slight flavour of bacon, and rabbit terrine with pickles. Oh and the spouting broccoli too. Plus home baked sourdough bread. Monika wasn’t a great fan of the cod’s roe but I loved it. And we polished off the lot.

For mains it was pork belly with carrots, brill with samphire and clams, plus a side of colcannon. I meant to order the pearl barley, wild garlic and goats curd as well but though we were told we had ordered it, it turned out we hadn’t.

Mains are always the most difficult part of the menu to get right, you don’t want to be kept waiting too long after the starters have been cleared away, but not rushed either and they are the most complex dishes to cook. Summers was still in the soft opening period and could harden this aspect up a little for the next visit. Also on the menu was a beef shin and Guinness pie, which looked really good – and I don’t eat beef – and as it comes for two is truly a dish for sharing.

Haven't had a carrot this good since Noma.

Haven’t had a carrot this good since Noma.

Service was from two young waitresses who were a little nervous and still getting to grips with menu and space. However, they needn’t have worried quite so much, they were charming and did a fine job. When a restaurant has certain buzz it adds to the enjoyment the meal, and Summers had it. The room was full of 20-30somethings enjoying their meals, with a gentle backdrop of 80s Indie music, shared with the pub downstairs.

Mmmm. Desserts went down rather well.

Mmmm. Desserts went down rather well.

After mains it was into the home stretch of desserts – we shared an apple crumble and rice pudding with rhubarb. Not being a huge fan of rice pudding I took a cautious bite, and then another one and another one – I might not have been a huge fan before, but I am now.

There are subtle changes to the menu each night, so you might not get the same starters or desserts we had, but I’m pretty sure they will be just as good. And how did our Berlin friends like it? Sehr, sehr gut.

What have you missed since April 3rd?

West Hampstead made the (inter)national news in a report on Nazanin’s year in prison.

Camden’s new waste contract started. In West Hampstead it wasn’t exactly smooth.

Alice House decking was given the OK by the Planning Inspector.

Ooops - car on Mill Lane. Pic thanks to FoFGNW6

Ooops – car on Mill Lane. Pic thanks to FoFGNW6

This week saw a successful Whampsocial at Bobby F’s. The first organised by Adrian and Emily – (thank you).

Gomaa opens this week, selling mink upholstered furniture.

Oddbins had – another – attempted break in.

Two weeks ago Westminster, last week Stockholm, what would you do if something like that happened locally? The Safer Neighbourhoods Team recommend downloading CitizenAID app, which explains what you could in the aftermath.

Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Labour, announced her surprise departure. She’s stepping down on 2 May.

West Hampstead Labour councillors, and a former councillor, were on TV being unimpressed with near-neighbour Ken Livingston (Phil – you are looking quite at home on Palace Green…)

Property madness 1: “You can never be too rich or too thin” the Duchess of Windsor once said. If you are both then West Hampstead has the house for you; it’s sideways only into the bathroom though. And all for only £1.6 million! But hang on ” in the area infamously known as West Hampstead”…?

Property madness 2. If that isn’t big enough then how about nearby Kidderpore Hall? only £17m (but includes a £10 million renovation budget.

Coming back down to earth. What does home (specifically in West Hampstead) mean to you? A local sociologist is asking – please help him by answering the survey. He’d like at least 100 participants, let’s help him get there.

Sniff. It was the final tweet from James Earl as chair of the NDF. Goodbye James West Hampstead will miss you. Even Stop the Blocks.

Fancy some table tennis? Maygrove Park got two new table-tennis tables.

Spring Singfest at Emmanuel Church was lovely. A good turnout, good singing and an good chance to catch up with neighbours. And raised nearly £1,500 for the local Marie Curie hospice.

Have you been watching ‘Decline and Fall’ on the BBC? You know It’s by Evelyn Waugh, but did you know he grew up on Hillfield Road?

The London Improv Theatre is in … West Hampstead (sort of)!? Well it’s on the Finchley Road. And there is a new Improv comedy show this Friday.

M&S is offering a huge hamper in a charity raffle and guess the number of Easter eggs for the benefit of St James And St. Mary’s with All Souls hardship funds.

But Easter isn’t just about Easter Eggs, details of Emmanuel, St. Lukes and St. James and All Souls Easter services.

Tweet of the week

Tree of freedom marks one year of Nazanin’s imprisonment

One year ago, today, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was just a hassled mum trying to get to the airport with a toddler. It was the end of a two week trip to Tehran to visit her parents for Nowruz (Persian New Year). However, instead of returning to her normal life back here in West Hampstead, she was arrested at the airport by the Revolutionary Guard, had her passport seized and has spent the past year in prison separated from Gabriella, her daughter in Tehran and Richard, her husband in London.

After she was detained at the airport she was held in a prison in Kerman province, 1000 miles south of Tehran, including at least 46 days in solitary confinement. On 14 August she faced a secret trial and was convicted of being “one of the chief members of networks of adversary institutions, who — with the direction and support of foreign media and espionage services — has committed her criminal acts over the past few years”. She was sentenced for five years in prison and transferred to Tehran’s Evin jail. She appealed, but her sentence was confirmed in January.

At the time of her appeal the Kerman branch of the Revolutionary guard apparently added two extra charges; that her husband was spy (he isn’t, he is an accountant) and that she acted as head of recruitment for the BBC Farsi service. In fact she worked as a project assistant for BBC Media Action. She now works for the charitable arm of the Thompson-Reuters Foundation, which doesn’t operate in Iran (good interview with Monique Ville, the head on of the Thompson-Reuters Foundation on Radio 4 Today programme – link below).

Richard Ratcliffe adding another card for his wife to the tree on Fortune Green Photograph: Gareth Fuller PA

Richard Ratcliffe adding another card for his wife to the tree on Fortune Green Photograph: Gareth Fuller PA

To mark one year since the arrest, Richard, family and supporters organised an event in Fortune Green, her local park. On a beautiful Spring day. As well as marking one year imprisonment, this weekend had special resonance in Iran. Saturday was the 12th day after Nowruz when prisoners can have their sentences commuted. One prisoner was released on bail  on Saturday, but sadly not Nazanin.

The event involved tying ribbons round a tree on the Green with cards attached. On each card was the answer to the question – what would you do if you had one extra day of freedom? Some of the cards were read out; from Nazanin herself, from the families of other prisoners, from former prisoners, from family and others. It was very moving. You can’t miss the tree as it is festooned with ribbons and cards, which will stay up until Easter.

Reading out some of the answers to the question 'What would you do with a day of freedom?'

Reading out some of the answers to the question ‘What would you do with a day of freedom?’

Nazanin’s wish reads “My fondest dream has always been to arrive at our home. You ask me if I want to have a cup of tea, then make me one. I just sit back and watch you two play. This is the image I had most when in solitary confinement. How I wish I could watch you both dance in the middle of our sitting room to the Michael Jackson music – like when Gabriella was only tiny.”

One local, Maria Feeney, spoke of how she as been moved to start a ‘bale of peace’, some cloth she was given to her by the Village Haberdashery, with the idea that she will place it in local businesses for people to write or sew on “to raise our voices and bring the story back”. It is a apt artistic project as Nazinin loved finding fabrics for her daughter Gabriella. Expect to see it around West Hampstead, and when finished she hopes to exhibit it in Tehran.

After the readings some of the younger supporters went off with Richard to help the Friends of Fortune Green plant some day lillies for Nazanin, ready for her and Gabriella’s return. The event ended with Father Jonathan from Emmanuel Church, who came up after the Sunday service, to add a few words.

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The event garnered good press coverage, it was on BBC London news last night, as well as Sky news and on the Radio 4 Today programme (scroll to 2:36).  Richard also appeared this morning on Good Morning Britain and the Victoria Derbyshire show. It appeared in the Guardian, the Times, the Telegraph and is in the solidly supportively Ham & High this week. Watch out also for something on CNN, as chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, fellow British-Iranian, is doing a story on it.

When asked how he felt it went, Richard replied “I was really touched by the support. The longer we go on campaigning the more difficult it is to make it real, but what could be more real than being in our local park, where Nazanin came with Gabriella.  It is what she wants to come back to”.

Tulip as been active in her support of the cause, joining Richard last year in handing in a 50,000 signature petition to Downing Street. She and the family have been in contact with junior Foreign office minister, Tobias Ellwood, but so far Boris Johnson has refused to meet them. The Telegraph reported Amnesty International was criticising Boris for lack of action on the case.

If you haven’t already done so, you can sign the petition – it is just shy of 900,000 signatures.  This is also a good way to follow the campaign as Richard posts updates there, or for the twitterate among you, follow the campaign @freenazanin.

Don’t trust an MP who says they’re a “regular person”, says Tulip

Where's the NHS money Boris? Image credit: Tulip Siddiq/BBC

Where’s the NHS money Boris? Image credit: Tulip Siddiq/BBC

Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead & Kilburn, is a busy working mother and her baby daughter Azalea is going through a naughty, determined, stage at the moment. After her mother’s recent haranguing of “smirking” foreign secretary Boris Johnson in the House of Commons, perhaps we know where Azalea gets it from. We sat down with Tulip to talk politics, Brexit, spin and, of course, West Hampstead.*

Juggling political life

At the moment, Tulip and husband Chris both have full-on jobs, and a baby to bring up. She laments that they are often like ships passing in the night and sometimes don’t get to see each other much. When they do, it’s a multilingual affair. Tulip talks to Azalea in Bengali, while Chris talks to her in Mandarin (he is a fluent speaker) to give her a good grounding before she starts learning English. Interestingly, if Chris talks in Bengali, Azalea refuses to answer him. Poor kid is probably baffled!

Juggling home and work life sounds pretty standard for most people, but Tulip is not impressed by those politicians who profess to be just ‘normal regular people’. To become an MP is quite a struggle – in her case with what she describes as a gruelling selection process (particularly bitter as “you are up against your friends”), followed by contesting a tight marginal seat, which can be a vicious experience. It is an unusual existence, and Tulip suggests you shouldn’t trust anyone who suggests they are just a regular woman, or man, who just ended up there by accident.

Tulip revealed that it was a Conservative who gave Tulip her first break in politics. Andrew Marshall, now an independent councillor for Swiss Cottage, is the man responsible, according to Tulip. Back in 2007 there was a council by-election in Fortune Green, following the death of councillor Jane Schopflin. At an informal hustings for candidates, Tulip says that Andrew was impressed enough to email Anna Stewart, then the leader of the Camden Labour, saying very complimentary things about Tulip. This, she says, is what got her noticed and she was then selected for Regent’s Park ward, made a Camden cabinet member, selected as parliamentary candidate and is now our MP. Andrew himself has no recollection of the hustings or the email.

Unity and division 

It may sound strange to outside ears for a member of one party to openly praise a member of another. But the reality is that parliament is not always as partisan as it appears. Tulip has worked with Conservative MP Maria Miller on a cross-party bill on sex and relationship education, and also actively supports Harrow MP Bob Blackman’s private member’s Homeless Reduction Bill. She even shares a corridor (and long chats) with Chris Philp, who many readers will remember as the Tory candidate who came just 42 votes short of toppling Glenda Jackson in Hampstead & Kilburn in 2010.

Tulip is also working on another cross-party bill with Conservative MP Oliver Dowden who, like Tulip, has a constituent imprisoned in Iran. West Hampstead resident Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spent almost a year now in prison in Iran and Tulip say she is trying hard to get a meeting with the government to discuss her case, but claims Boris is stalling.

Lest we should think that all is sweetness and light across the house, Brexit of course remains divisive. Tulip was one of the Labour rebels who opposed the bill (and stepped down from the shadow cabinet as a result), and she is disappointed with the Tory response. She suggests that some Conservative MPs talked a good game but when push came to shove only Kenneth Clarke voted against the bill.

There are 17,000 EU nationals in Hampstead & Kilburn, one of the highest number in any constituency. Of course they don’t get to vote in a general election, but Tulip argued that “I’m not here to get votes, I’m here to help people.  I am your MP. If you live here I will represent you”. Of course in an area that voted some 3-to-1 in favour of Remain, far in excess of her victory margin, voting against the bill hardly seems like political suicide. Tulip does point out that it is becoming harder not to be very guarded when making public statements given the volume of nasty attacks that ensue if you say something even mildly controversial (that’s you Twitter trolls). A recent Guardian interview with her and anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller, gives some insight into the intensity of vitriol women in particular can face, and the lengths public figures like Tulip have to go to to keep themselves safe.

Brexit has predictably led to a big jump in EU casework – for example she is trying to help a Spanish constituent who has custody of her child whose father is British. Will she be allowed to stay? None of these implications were discussed by the Leave campaign at the time of the referendum, and as Brexit minister David Davis frankly admitted, there has been a complete lack of preparation.

Even this week, Tulip voiced her Brexit ire in the House of Commons, criticising Boris Johnson for “smirking at the British public” over the claim that £350m would go to the NHS.

Thankfully, Tulip is generally amused by Speaker John Bercow cutting MPs down to size in the chamber. “His comments are so funny,” she says (the clip includes a good example).

If proposed boundary changes go ahead, which would on paper suit the Conservatives, then perhaps her rebel stance will help her. Even if there is no change, the national polls don’t look good for Labour under its current leadership. Of course, she is fighting the proposals anyway – which would see Kilburn drop out of the constituency and leafier suburbs to the north and east come in.

Tulip’s main concern is splitting the Kilburn High Road across two constituencies. It is, she points out, already under-represented, particularly  since it straddles two boroughs – four if you go far enough north and south. She became particularly aware of the problems Kilburn faces when her constituency office was there and she became involved in all sorts of local issues: HS2’s ventilation shaft in South Kilburn, payday lenders and loan sharks targeting the area and even parking for Eid prayers.

What about West Hampstead?

Whatever boundary changes, West Hampstead will remain in the constituency, and so the conversation turns to our own neighbourhood. Tulip says that she was sorry to see long-standing Lib Dem councillor Keith Moffitt go, but that Labour’s Phil Rosenberg has carried on the tradition of working hard for the community. As a former local councillor, she is well aware of the problems local councils face at the moment: “The government doesn’t care about local councils, if you haven’t been a local councillor you don’t know the full impact of the decisions they are making.”

On the thorny issues of fortnightly waste collections in the area, Tulip politely demurs that she doesn’t know the full details, although she says that she understands the concerns and lots of people are coming to her surgeries about the issue. She does point out that councils have to make difficult choices and not everyone is aware of the level of services the council provides in other areas – much of which is statutory and cannot be cut.

As the conversation draws to a close, a school bus passed by, which Tulip said she had used as a 16-year-old – yes, she’s lived here that long. Of course, she still finds out new things about the area in West Hampstead Life, which she kindly says plays an important role in keeping locals informed (whether or not we say nice things about her personally). “I always read things where I think ‘I didn’t know that.'”

*this interview took place before the tragic events around Westminster last week

 

What have you missed since March 20th?

Tulip spoke about the response to the Westminster incident last week in Parliament, the Prime Minister was grateful for her comments.

Telly historian Lucy Worsley dropped into West Hampstead to talk to 300 local kids about history. And they loved it!

What did you get your mother (or your kid’s mum) for mother’s day? One option was Cocoa Bijoux, which we visited for another local Insight.

Those famous Whampstead sunsets were back…

As spotted by @filleboheme

As spotted by @filleboheme

Sunday 2nd April will be one year since Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first imprisoned. At midday family and supporters will commemorate this on Fortune Green, her local park. They will be planting some perennials and tying yellow ribbons round a tree on the Green. Attached to the ribbons will be cards with thoughts of what one would do if one had a day of freedom? What would you do? Come along and take part.

The coroner concluded that if the Royal Free had not twice discharged young Michael Uriely he might have survived.

Ladudu is closing, but for one final flourish it is offering pay-what-you-want for lunch and dinner on Monday 27th. See you there. And it is even selling the art from the walls.

Bobby Fitzpatrick’s got another good review, this time from the Evening Standard. But they felt it belonged in Soho. Just jealous.

Hampstead Butcher and Providore has expanded to Muswell Hill, but One Bourbon closed in Crouch End.

Renovation work underway at Lena’s Cafe (Two) will re-open soon, apparently.

Clock this! West Hampstead Square will be getting a clock (and a tower).

And here’s some footage of what a flat looks like from inside.  Not bad.

A bit different from this cupboard, sorry bijou studio flat, in Kilburn (on the High Road). Only fits one (small) person. Here’s the listing.

Analysis of Royal Mail redirections of north London postcodes has shown that NW6 has the highest number of arrivals and departures across North London. One consequence? Some departing leave unwanted items behind and new arrivals need the recycling system explained to them.

The Library’s new(ish) writer in residence wrote his latest blog post. Worth a read. Expect more insights in the near future.

An Insight into: Cocoa Bijoux

Cocoa Bijoux is an, erm, bijou, little chocolate shop down on Broadhurst Gardens. Except it isn’t just a chocolate shop. Stuart Daniel, the owner, wanted it be more interesting than a pure chocolate shop. It’s a good source if you are looking for a special present to take friends who’ve invited you for dinner. Or want to satisfy your own chocolate craving.

Stuart outside his bijou chocolate shop.

Stuart outside his bijou chocolate shop.

What brought you to West Hampstead?

Pizza. I was having a pizza at Sarracino, where we had been coming for years, then one day I saw this beautiful little shop, right next door to this great cigar shop (another of West Hampstead’s hidden gems) and said to my wife “I’m going to open up a shop” she replied, “you are crazy”.

I’d been in the confectionary distribution business for over 25 years and the bit I liked best about it was visiting the shops as well as the sourcing and discovering. So I thought the time had come to try something different and open my own shop.

I never wanted to open a pure chocolate shop though, I find them a bit boring. I’m a foodie and like other indulgent products too; biscuits, olive oil, jams, cakes (Ed – and even biltong, Stuart hails from South Africa). I wanted the shop to allow customer to “explore and discover a world of indulgence”.

First or fondest memory of West Hampstead?

Those pizzas at Sarracino!

Aow, wouldn't it be loverly? Lots of choco'lates for me to eat.

Aow, wouldn’t it be loverly? Lots of choco’lates for me to eat.

What’s surprised you most about how West Hampstead has changed?

I haven’t been here that long, opening the shop in 2011, so it is difficult to know. Even in that short space of time though I’ve notice that the young couples that came in when I first opened have moved away and been replaced more and more by wealthy ex-pats. But West Hampstead is still perceived as a young person’s area, it has a young vibe.

Talking of change, I’d like to move into one of the new units when Mario’s further up Broadhurst Gardens gets redeveloped. It would be good to have more space, with somewhere for the customers to properly sit down and have one of our hot chocolate drinks.

When I look back at pictures of the shop, which at the time I thought was great, I now think it was terrible! The shop has matured, you have to respond to people’s wants and everything evolves.

What’s for lunch?

Mostly a beigel from Roni’s to go with soup I bring with me.

West Hampstead in three words?

Young, well-located and eclectic

What have you missed since March 13th?

Ladudu closes its doors for the final time this week.

After Ballymore had to take its enormous sign down last week, this week M&S had its application for an illuminated sign at West Hampstead Square turned down by Camden. Meanwhile, Ballymore marketing material seems to think West End Lane has shifted over to the Finchley Road (and apparently we lie between Hampstead, Primrose Hill and St. John’s Wood).

Next Sunday is Mothers Day – we rounded up a dozen gifts you can buy locally.

No reason for thinking Cresta House scaffolding is in any way insecure, but certainly looks vertiginous. via Andrew Marshall

No reason for thinking Cresta House scaffolding is in any way insecure, but certainly looks vertiginous. via Andrew Marshall

One mother who will not be at home on Mother’s day is Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who was imprisoned in Iran almost a year ago. She is being denied medical treatment for what appears to be a slipped disk.

A local boy tragically died of an extreme asthma attack after being released from the Royal Free.

West Hampstead tube station is apparently on a TfL short list of some 50 stations that need funding for step-free access.

West Hampstead and Fortune Green Safer Neighbourhood teams are being joined by the Kilburn team in a larger more flexible pool, when needed. Commercial burglaries are down this month after a spike in Jan/Feb, but car crime is up so don’t leave any valuables in your car overnight.

Toomai got tagged.

Miss Bake-a-boo herself wrote about the proposed redevelopment of her former premises. It’s well worth reading.

At the community consultation on the redevelopment of Gondar Gardens, it was suggested somehow that two previous applications for 16 units + 28 units now add up to the 108 units being proposed. Um?

Maeve McCormack, Labour councillor for Gospel Oak but resident of Broadhurst Gardens, is standing down as she has been priced out of Camden. In 1999, an employee paid 9.6x their salary for an average Camden property, last year that had risen to 19.6x.

Jim Carter is in conversation with Danny Boyle in a fundraiser at the Tricycle on Sunday 26th. Take your mother for a rather different (but still local!) mother’s day present?

Talking of the Tricycle, it’s the annual takeover in April though performances are in other venues as work continues on the theatre

Coming up this week
Beckett and Jazz at Locally Sourced on Monday and a barn dance at Emmanuel on Saturday. West Hampstead is nothing if not eclectic.

The book group at Swiss Cottage Library is looking at “Reading Lolita in Tehran”. While Phillips Sands is making an author’s visit to West End Lane books.

Tweet of the week

Lots of photos and comments on the arrival (onslaught?) of the new wheelie bins.

Shop local: 12 Presents for Mother’s Day

Mother’s day or Mothering Sunday, is the 26th March. Which is soon. If you haven’t got something for yours, or for younger mums something ‘from’ the kids – what to buy?  WHL scooted round the shops in the ‘hood – and this is what caught our eye.

Next decision, which colour...?

Next decision, which colour…?

Season’s Cookshop said “well it depends how pleased you want to make your mum!” and suggested a Le Creuset casserole dish (priced from £99 to £219).  Or for the perfect coffee with the right crema a Bialetta coffee maker (£36.30 with 20% off at the moment).  Otherwise, although your mum might take this the wrong way I quite liked the ‘avocado shark’ – a kitchen tool for avocados.

My heart belongs to ... cocoa-dusted walnuts, or possibly chocolate salami.

My heart belongs to … cocoa-dusted walnuts, or possibly chocolate salami.

Sticking to the food theme, down at Cocoa Bijoux on Broadhurst Gardens they recommended their cocoa-dusted Perigord walnuts at £15 or a selection of home made truffles. Otherwise Selma who was running the shop that day (Stuart the owner’s mum and from South Africa), would like some of their Biltong, but not sure my mum would be that chuffed.

Can't decide? Get all four.

Can’t decide? Get all four.

If wine is more her thing then Avie at Tannin & Oak suggests maybe some vintage prosecco by Nino Franco at £25 a bottle, or a white frizzante Moscate D’Asti at £16.00.  For something with a bit of a wow factor he also has magnums, recommending a rose – Rosado 2015 by Ramon Bilbao at £19.99 or red for £30.00 from Camille Cayron. Andrea at Vini Vici on Mill Lane was a bit more cynical about Mother’s Day, but happy to make a recommendation if you pop by.

Buddha or angel?

Buddha or angel?

North West 6, the gift shop by the tube station offers jewellery – recommending this blue topaz set for £240. It also has range of semi-precious stones (their healing powers are all the rage in L.A. at the moment) so maybe a rose quartz buddha or angel (depending on her religious viewpoint)? They also have a good range of oh-so important mother’s day cards.

Is she a cat or a dog person?

Is she a cat or a dog person?

Something for the younger artier mum? Try Monsters of Art on Mill Lane. Is she a cat or a dog person? Two pictures that caught my eye are these. The cat (£175) is by a local (well, Cricklewood) artist. The photo doesn’t really do justice to the dog picture (£300) – I really liked it, as did a well-known (and cool) DJ who’s already got a couple.

Nice frame at Joy

Nice frame at Joy

Two other options for the younger mum (or young at heart) is Joy which offered this nice picture frame (£12.00) and La Boutique Secret. Both had lots of fashion options but it’s a tricky one, not only does the piece and colour have to be right but the size too. Easier for woman to choose than a man methinks.

Perhaps a pampering present would be perfect? On West End Lane, Healthtown are offering a Mothering Sunday massage voucher for £50 (normally £60). Nearly opposite Nailsuite UK are offering a mani/pedi voucher for £40 (normally £55). As does Beauty Blossom on Mill Lane also £40 (that’s their normal price).

Best Mother's day card in West Hampstead (in our judgement)

Best Mother’s day card in West Hampstead (in our judgement)

Still looking for a card? The Sherriff Centre is another good source, and probably had the best card I saw (in the picture). As for presents it has some reasonably priced clutch bags by Holy Chic at £9.00 – or natural candle sets for £15.95. Ever popular are their individual letters at £1.75 each; so you can spell it out.

From the sublime to the ridiculous

From the sublime to the ridiculous

Literally, another option is West End Lane Books. Danny had several excellent recommendations; something from the display of gardening books in the window? Shelves full of Persephone and Virago books or ‘Mothering Sunday’ by Graham Swift? A little lower down the literary scale they offer ‘The Mum – how it works’, or ‘Adrian Mole – The Collected Poems’.

Say it with flowers, paper flowers!

Say it with flowers, paper flowers!

The Village Haberdashery has plenty to offer, suggesting cute crochet and knitting kits (£25 to £39). They also offer vouchers for their in-house workshops (£60) or paper flower making kits (starting from £5).

Another handmade option on West End Lane is to take the kids (or just yourself) and paint a mug (£18) or a plate (£18 to £30) at Art for Fun. But better get your skates on as it has be done this weekend since it takes a week to fire, so ready for collection next Saturday evening. In time for Mothering Sunday, just.

Achillea - bloomin' marvellous.

Achillea – bloomin’ marvellous.

If it is real flowers you are looking for then for my money, or should that be for my mummy, you can’t go wrong with a bouquet from Achillea flowers (from £20 upwards).

So there you are – at least twelve suggestions for a mother’s day present on your doorstep. If she doesn’t get anything, can’t say it was because you couldn’t find anything locally.

Out with a bành: Pay what you want on Ladudu’s last day

This month West Hampstead says farewell to Ladudu, the rather good Vietnamese restaurant by the stations. We will be sad to see it go but, as you will find out, when one door closes another one opens (in fact two).

Teresa considers herself a West Hampstead local as she lives in the area – it’s her ‘hood’ as she put it. But she got here in a rather roundabout way.  Born in Vietnam she fled as child with her family in the war, and they ended up as refugees in Sydney, Australia. After university she worked in IT and decided to take advantage of a one-year visa for a working visit to the UK. That one-year trip has now stretched to twelve as she met and married her husband here.

Having lived elsewhere in London, she ended up living in West Hampstead, which she describes as “a great combination of transport links to central London but also all the quaint local shops, a local and cosy feel”.

Aurevoir West Hampstead!

Aurevoir West Hampstead!

What’s in a name

Teresa was always passionate about food and cooking but was not a professional chef. In 2009, she was made redundant and thought it was time to follow her dreams. She started off offering Vietnamese cooking lessons with a view to opening her own restaurant. On her way to work she had walked past Glo on West End Lane. The pan-Asian restaurant closed after about a year, but the prominent site – directly opposite the Iverson Road junction was clearly good. The site became vacant, Teresa had some culinary experience under her belt and she had always wanted to open her own business. Hello Ladudu.

About that name. It has featured in some unflattering lists of London restaurant names, so where did it come from? In Vietnamese, la means leaf and dudu means papaya. Put the two together and you get papaya leaf! It is also has a family resonance as Teresa’s grandfather was a herbalist and used to drink papaya leaf tea for its health benefits.

Ladudu passed the crucial three-year stage but, like all businesses, had to face some bumps in the road. Last year there were two: Brexit caused a jump in the cost of imported ingredients, but not a jump in the prices she they could charge and a broken water main (in West Hampstead, who’d have thought) damaged the basement kitchen. Although the damage was covered by insurance it still meant the restaurant was out of action over the busy Christmas period.

Ladudu’s logo and branding may make it look like a chain, which it isn’t. Teresa had hoped to open another branch, but says that that would have made the business “too commercial”, so instead she took the decision to close the restaurant and focus on other opportunities in order to preserve a lifestyle that still gave her some flexibility.

Teresa and her saucy new business.

Teresa and her saucy new business.

Sauce of enjoyment

Teresa says she has learned a huge amount in her five years running Ladudu, and saw other opportunities opening up. First, she has started marketing the sauces she was making from scratch for the restaurant and she wants to go back to teaching others how to cook Vietnamese food, but probably this time over the internet. Ladudu sauces will be available at Wing Yip and other Asian grocers around London, plus at the grocers on West End Lane and hopefully Cook too. Don’t be surprised if you see a familiar face on Dragon’s Den in the not too distant future.

With her background in IT she has also set up systems at the restaurant both for cooking but also for the all important stock and cost control. So she and her husband have set up a company, Insolution software, to sell that too! Plus she is writing a cook book.

However, there is one last surprise for West Hampstead. Ladudu closes at the end of the month, but on the last day, Monday 27th, for lunch and dinner (and in between) it will be pay-what-you-want. Head along, enjoy the food one last time – top tip: it’s the best ice cream in West Hampstead – and buy a jar of sauce (or two) so you can take some Ladudu home with you.

What of the restaurant? Teresa had interest in the site from Pret and bakery chain Paul. A burger chain was also interested. However, in the end Teresa preferred Rosa’s Thai Café. If you’re not familiar with this small chain, then expect Thai food with a modern twist. It started in Spitalfields and has opened several branches since, the latest one in Brixton. West Hampstead will be the first branch outside Zone 1.

Adieu to Ladudu, all the best to Teresa and thank you for introducing us to some Vietnamese favourites. Who’s going to make WHL’s banh-mi now?

What have you missed since March 6th?

This week Ballymore agreed to take down the huge sign it had put up without planning permission. ‘Ballynomore’, as we quipped.

Staying with Ballymore, West Hampstead Square (a.k.a. Heritage Square) opened proper. Maybe it’s the weather, but it looks a bit bleak, non? plus the three London plane trees are planted too close together. And the new benches round them didn’t quite attract the ambience hoped for…

Finally – looking to move? There is a penthouse at West Hampstead Square available for only £2.1 million. Maybe cut your offer price though as prices are edging down for flats in the new local developments.

Indiana Jones’ connection to West Hampstead. Who knew!? Our local historians that’s who.

Graffiti 1 – tag on Billy Fury way can’t be removed without damaging the mural. Sad.  Does someone know the perpetrator? Hint- he’s called Kevin

Graffiti 2 – some rather odd graffiti appeared on the Barclays cash machines. Apparently, airplane contrails are part of some conspiracy to control the weather…

Changes at the helm of the Neighbourhood Development Forum. James Earl is to be replaced by new co-chairs Nick Jackson and former Cllr Keith Moffitt.

Groan. More development in West Hampstead? Consultation on plans to turn Gondar Gardens reservoir into luxury retirement homes with chauffeur-driver. More details in calendar.

Application in to turn basement and back part of Bake-a-Boo into a flat. Basement OK but back part too makes retail unit too small? Save Mill Lane!

Expect some partial closure of West End Lane for Overground redevelopment. Closer inspection of this table is rather confusing but jist is partial closures coming up.

Another theft by someone on a moped locally.  Don’t flash your mobile (or headphones).

With all the fuss about the Tories breaking their manifesto pledge on no National Insurance increase, a reminder that in the last Camden Labour manifesto: no charges for rubbish collection and  continue weekly collections…

The new bins have started arriving and they are huge. Quite how people are supposed to store them plus recycling wheelie bins hasn’t really been thought through.

Community Association quiz was a success, part of their ‘Go West’ Hampstead initiative to bring West Hampstead together – next time will be in Emmanuel Church as they will need a bigger venue. Next event second barn dance – yee haw!

The London Quilters are back for the 8th year at Swiss Cottage Library. One local recommended the exhibition – and she’s right – they are stunning. Worth a detour.

Thank you and farewell to Charlotte Green who ran the Whampsocials for us over the past year.  But welcome our new social mavens; Adrian and Emily.  Watch out for the next Whampsocial coming up soon.

Cat stuck! but the police came to the rescue – cat saved! Phew.

A peek behind the shutter of the excellent mykilburnhighroad instagram account. And here’s an why we like it.

Indiana Jones and the West Hampstead conman

Mitchell Hedges in adventurer and gentleman guises

Mitchell Hedges in adventurer and gentleman guises

In 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there is a brief mention of a real person. Our eponymous hero says that while he was studying at the University of Chicago, he was fascinated by the work of a man called Mitchell Hedges, a real-life adventurer and explorer who found a crystal skull. Although the writers of the film say they did not use Mitchell Hedges as a model for Indiana Jones, there are some interesting parallels between the real and the fictional characters – and a link with a West Hampstead conman.

Hedges was born in Islington in 1882 as Frederick Albert Hedges, the son of a dealer in gold, silver and diamonds. He added ‘Mitchell’ from a family name on his mother’s side and to his friends he was known as Mike, Midge or Mitch Hedges.

Young Frederick was educated at Berkhampstead prep-school in Cheltenham before moving to University College School in 1896 (the school was in Gower Street then, moving to its present site to the north of West Hampstead in 1907). He left school at 16 and joined a copper-prospecting expedition to Norway. When he returned to London, he briefly worked as a clerk in the stock exchange before going to New York at the end of 1901. After nearly five years in America he returned, and lived at 42 Kensington Park Gardens, Notting Hill Gate. In November 1906 Frederick married Lilian Agnes ‘Dolly’ Clarke. They had no children and with all his travelling she often did not see him for long periods. Frederick started a stock-broking business in partnership with others, but he went bankrupt in 1912.

After this failure Mitchell Hedges travelled extensively and lived a colourful life. He claimed he was captured in Mexico by the revolutionary Pancho Villa in 1913. In October 1914, he had an illegitimate son, Frederick Joseph, born at the Paddington home of the child’s mother, Mary Florence Stanners. Three years later, he was back in North America and claimed he met Trotsky in New York. He also adopted ten-year-old Anne-Marie ‘Anna’ Le Guillon, the orphaned daughter of some friends from Ontario.

Hedges met Lady Richmond Brown, who was separated from her husband (their marriage was annulled in 1930 on the grounds of Lady Brown’s adultery with Hedges), and the two travelled together on several Indiana Jones-style expeditions funded by Lady Brown and London newspapers. In the 1920s they were in British Honduras (today’s Belize) with archaeologist Thomas Gann and in 1924 they visited Lubaantun on the Rio Grande in the south of the country. This is a ruined Maya city dating from the 8th and 9th centuries. Hedges later claimed he had discovered the city, but Gann had actually discovered them more than 20 years earlier.

Mitchell Hedges and Lady Richmond Brown at Lubaantun

Mitchell Hedges and Lady Richmond Brown at Lubaantun

The Hold Up on the Ripley Road
By 1927, Mitchell Hedges had became famous, writing about his adventures in newspaper articles and books. On 14 January he had a busy day in London lecturing to Bank of England employees and doing a radio broadcast. He dined at the National Liberal Club and was being chauffeured to his home at Sandbanks Parkstone near Bournemouth, accompanied by his friend Colin Edgell.

On Ripley Road in Cobham Woods, Surrey, the car was stopped by a man waving them down in the headlights. He said his friend was injured and needed to go to hospital. Kenneth Taylor, the young chauffeur went to help and when he did not return Hedges and Edgell went to look for him. They were astonished to find Taylor lying by the side of the road with his hands tied behind his back. Suddenly, they were set upon by six men but after a fight their attackers ran off into the darkness. Returning to the car Mitchell Hedges found his brief case containing papers and six shrunken heads had been stolen. Before returning to London the three men drove to Guildford police station to report the theft.

The day after the robbery, Hedges received a letter at his usual suite at the Savoy Hotel that said the entire escapade had been a hoax. The writer said that he and five other young Liberals had objected to Hedges’ remarks in a recent speech at the National Liberal Club, where he spoke about the lack of grit in the British youth of today. “You did not suspect that the six ruffians who attacked you in Cobham Woods were six of these very weaklings whom you were reviling with their lack of enterprise and pluck.” His bag was returned intact and Hedges said he accepted it as practical joke.

There the matter appeared to rest, but a week later, an article appeared in the Daily Express followed by another in the Sunday Express that included an interview with the gang’s ring-leader, Clifford Bagot Gray. The articles said that Hedges had colluded with the young Liberals to gain further notoriety for himself and to help drive publicity for Bagot Gray’s ‘Monomark’ monogram service.

Hedges sued the papers for libel and the case was heard in the High Court in February 1928. The defence barrister pressed Hedges hard, claiming he was an ‘impostor’ who had exaggerated his exploits in his publications. Witnesses were called who had taken part in the hoax, saying it had been rehearsed several weeks earlier in Cobham Woods. The jury, without leaving the box, found in favour of the defendants and Mitchell Hedges lost the case and was ordered to pay costs.

The West Hampstead connection
On 12 February, 1928, during the trial, Mitchell Hedges was contacted at the Savoy by a Major MacAllan who said he could help with the case. A meeting was arranged and MacAllan was accompanied by a man he introduced as his solicitor Mr Astor. He claimed to have met Mitchell Hedges in Buenos Aires where he was the head of the MacAllan Construction Company. “You are in a hell of mess and you are going to lose your case. I want to do the best I can to help you,” said MacAllan.

It was suggested that if the verdict went against him, Hedges could lose all his friends and be ostracized. MacAllan said that he had helped people in previous high profile libel cases, for a fee. Even better, as his cousin was on the jury they could win the case, but it would cost Hedges £1,000. After they left, Hedges immediately contacted Scotland Yard. A second meeting was arranged for the next day. Four detectives hid in a small adjoining box-room listening on headphones to a microphone hidden in Mitchell Hedges’ Savoy sitting room. When MacAllan asked for £500 now and £500 the following day, the detectives rushed into the room and arrested him and Mr Astor.

In court the men were identified as James MacAllan (who was not a major), 59, a civil engineer of Dennington Park Road and Frederick George Arnold (a.k.a. Mr Astor), 60, a fancy toy dealer of Tachbrook Street in Pimlico. They pleaded guilty to attempting to obtain money by false pretences, and were each sentenced to six-months imprisonment with hard labour.

A serial conman
Information on the Dennington Park Road conman is scant. Before World War I, he had worked as a civil engineer in Argentina and by 1928 he was a secretary for the London and Provincial Greyhound Racing Association. But he became a career conman, sentenced to 12-months imprisonment in October 1926 for defrauding five people by claiming valuable mineral deposits in Yorkshire. There were numerous complaints that he had run up debts with tradesmen pretending to be a major. In February 1927 he received a four-month sentence for stealing £250 from a woman he had promised to marry.

Nine years after the Hedges incident, he was in court again, charged with obtaining £125 by false pretences from Elsie May Andrewartha of Vincent Square, Westminster. This was a callous case. Miss Andrewartha was a nurse who attended MacAllan while he had an operation on his leg in Westminster Hospital. After he was discharged in October 1936, she cared for him at his home. MacAllan told her he was an engineer with a secretary and two offices and that he was working on a big scheme at the Brighton seafront involving the mayor and worth £3 million. He offered Elsie the opportunity to invest in the syndicate he was forming. In November and December 1936 she gave him two cheques totalling £125.

She did not see him again until June 1937, when he told her the Brighton scheme had failed because they could not raise enough money. However, he reassured her that he was now working on another project in Huddersfield where he had invested her money. Miss Andrewartha was very annoyed and asked for her money back. In court the police said MacAllan was a persistent and very dangerous man, and they had received numerous complaints of fraud about him. He was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months.

Who was the ‘Major’?
His full name was James Cator Scott MacAllan and he was probably born in Scotland about 1868. He was separated from his wife and lived at several London addresses with his daughter Marjorie (born in 1897) who was a shop assistant. At the time of the attempted con of Mitchell Hedges in February 1928 he was living in Dennington Park Road. In 1933, he and Marjorie were in Christchurch Road Streatham, but by 1936 they had moved back to West Hampstead – living at 16 Fairhazel Gardens. During the war they lived at 5 Fordwych Road, before Marjorie moved to Hendon. By 1947 James MacAllan was living on his own at 6 Thayer Street in Marylebone and the following year he was renting a single room at 24 Nelson Square, Southwark. He died at the end of 1948 in Westminster.

What about that crystal skull?
Mitchell Hedges wasn’t averse to some deceit himself. He and his adopted daughter Anna claimed they found their famous 3,000-year-old Mayan crystal skull at Lubaantun on her 17th birthday – January 1st, 1924. In fact Frederick bought the skull in auction at Sotheby’s on 15 November 1943 for £400 (about £1,600 today).

Skull in Sotheby's Catalogue 15 Oct 1943

Skull in Sotheby’s Catalogue 15 Oct 1943

Recent research by Jane MacLaren Walsh, from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, has looked at Eugène Boban, a key figure who owned several crystal skulls that were probably made for him in Mexico. This French antiquarian worked for several years in Mexico and exhibited two crystal skulls in Paris in 1867. In the 1870s he opened a shop in Paris selling Mexican artefacts before moving to New York in 1885. The following year Tiffany and Co. bought one of his skulls at auction for $950 and sold it in 1898 to the British Museum at the original price.

Some time before 1934, Sir Sidney Burney, a London antique dealer, purchased another crystal skull, almost identical to the one the British Museum bought from Tiffany’s. Jane MacLaren Walsh believes it was based on the one in the British Museum and probably made in Europe between 1910 and 1930, and that Boban, who died in 1908, was not directly involved with this second skull.

There is no information about how Burney acquired his skull, but it is very similar to that in the British Museum, with more detailed modelling of the eyes and teeth, and a separate lower jaw. In fact this was the skull bought by Mitchell Hedges at Sotheby’s. Despite his claim to have found it at Lubaantun in the 1920s, he first mentions it as a ‘new acquisition’ in a letter to his brother dated 1943.

When confronted about this discrepancy, Hedges said he had given the skull to a friend, who put it up for auction at Sotheby’s, so he bought it back. This far-fetched explanation is typical of the stories he made up and included in his biography, Danger is My Ally, published five years before he died of a stroke in Devon in June 1959. His daughter Anna exaggerated the story further and claimed alien and supernatural powers for the ‘Skull of Doom’ which she periodically exhibited. In fact there is no evidence that Anna went to Lubaantun in the 1920s and she simply inherited the skull after her father died. Anna herself died in 2007 aged 100, and the huge mythology about the powers of the skull has continued to flourish. Today, the skull is in the possession of her close friend Bill Homann.

New captains take the helm of local planning group

The NDF has a new head – or rather heads. After five years of steering the Neighbourhood Development Forum, chairman James Earl stepped down at last night’s AGM.

A memory of West Hampstead to take away!

A memory of West Hampstead to take away!

James is leaving West Hampstead for pastures new. His replacement(s): NDF treasurer Nick Jackson and former Lib Dem local councillor Keith Moffitt.

In the end, the whole handover process was remarkably smooth. When James asked for nominations, Lib Dem cllr Flick Rea nominated Nick Jackson, Nick nominated Keith Moffitt and at this point Keith confessed that they has discussed it in advance and had agreed to share the role. The rest of the committee agreed to stand again, with Nick retaining his treasurer role. All rather uncontroversial. Nick has been a core member of the NDF ever since it was established, and Keith knows his way round the corridors of Camden better than anyone as former leader of the council.

Nick Jackson (L) and Keith Moffitt (R) - the new co-chairs of the NDF

Nick Jackson (L) and Keith Moffitt (R) – the new co-chairs of the NDF

In James’ final report as chair he said that in the five years since the NDF was set up it has reached 500 members, written an Neighbourhood Development Plan  that will last until 2031! and is making traction with its priorities.

In his new role as co-chair Keith thanked James for the huge amount of work he has done for West Hampstead and Nick presented him with a couple of memories of the area.

Ever since the Neighbourhood Development Plan was approved by referendum, the role of the NDF has been a little hazy. Is it there to ensure the plan is adhered to? Should it take a more proactive role in continuing to shape the development of the area? How should membership be defined? These are all questions that Keith and Nick will need to answer in the coming months.

Nick’s first thoughts were that “the role of the NDF now is to ensure that the Neighbourhood Plan is applied and enforced on all significant schemes in the Fortune Green and West Hampstead wards. We are also looking at the future of the designated Growth Area around the stations and we need to continue to press for master-planning for all the significant potential sites in the Growth Area to avoid uncoordinated development, and to maximise the value to the community of any development there”.

He added, “The immediate big challenge is to maintain the high standard of evaluation and comment on proposed schemes in the area, a process which has been very effectively led by James over the past five years, and that has won some substantial improvements to the proposals. There are likely to be several big developments coming forward soon that will need close scrutiny and robust comment. For instance, the developers of the very large and dense scheme for upmarket retirement housing on the Gondar Gardens reservoir green space say an application will be submitted this year. We will be supporting the local community in seeking a satisfactory outcome”.

James’s parting advice for the NDF going forward? “The main lesson is you do have to sit down and discuss with developers, you have to be involved. Make sure you have a seat at the table.”

What have you missed since February 27th?

UXB NW6. A bomb was discovered on a building site in NW6. It was made safe, taken away and exploded by the army.

After last week’s announcement by Camden Council that it is raising Council tax by 4.99% , with 3% ring-fenced to fund social care. An insight into what social care pressures local doctors are facing, with some pensioners in de-facto ‘solitary confinement’.

At WHATs recent AGM we learned more about the new recycling regime – it will be starting in less than a month!

Pic of the week

shows the perils of street drinking…

Oddly disturbing sight on our high street! As seen by @julietrix1

Oddly disturbing sight on our high street! As seen by @julietrix1

Tulip raised the issue, in Parliament, of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s use of language  at a fundraising dinner for the Hampstead Conservatives referring to the ‘pygmy-nature’ of the opposition. In the constituency of the shortest member of parliament she pointed out. (You might have caught this on the Radio 4 Today show too).

Finchley and Golder’s Green MP Mike Freer, whose constituency will be split in the boundary changes, has been tipped to stand as the Tory MP for new Hampstead & Golders Green constituency.

Among the 750 comments on boundary changes to the constituency, the highest in the country, was one by Chris Percy (aka Mr Tulip Siddiq). He raised the prospect of a legal challenge under the equalities act.

There was break-in at Oddbins – thieves got away with a bottle of bourbon – but most of the bottles and boxes were empty.

Camden Council refuses to allow utility companies access for meter readings. Apparently due to ‘health and safety’. Some residents haven’t had a reading for seven years.

It’s the West Hampstead NDF AGM. Chair James Earl is stepping down, but who will replace him?

Also on Monday the Hampstead NDF is having a meeting – so they are pressing ahead.

The Tricycle’s refurb is continuing and their auditorium is heading off to a school in Kent.

Some graffiti was subverted at JW3. They are running a GayW3 festival over the next week.

There is a Taste of Syria pop-up stall at JW3.

Tweet of the week

WHAT about the new recycling regime?

At local amenity group WHAT’s AGM last week, the thorny topic of rubbish was the theme. Following the departure of WHAT’s founder and long-time chair, Virigina Berridge, this was the first blooding of new co-chairs John Saynor and Mary Tucker.

John opened the presentation by saying that most attendees were keen recyclers (hopefully true). Therefore, is Camden’s main challenge to persuade those who don’t or won’t recycle to do a better job? Particularly in West Hampstead with a high turnover of renters.

Richard Bradbury, Camden’s head of recycling, gave a fast, well-rehearsed presentation with many slides. He emphasised that 85% of the contents of a Camden bin could be recycled, yet residents only manage 25%, which is pretty feeble whatever your political persuasion.

Richard proposed a outcome-focused plan to make the new rubbish contract a success: increased recycling, less fly-tipping, less contamination of recycling bins/better technology, educating the public, and flexible responses to specific problems. He handed out an update on what can be recycled.

Camden's latest recycling info

Camden’s latest recycling info

Then came a lively and productive Q&A session. From which we found out some of the details. We’ll get a leaflet telling us our fortnightly area dates for a whole year. People with babies need to pre-book extra nappy collections. We can now recycle black food trays. Shredded paper is acceptable, even though its fibres have been broken down. And there will be one-off collections for textiles and batteries (as well as large items), to be ordered via the website.

You can recycle so much that it goes onto two pages!

You can recycle so much that it goes onto two pages!

Technology to the rescue! There’ll be an app from which you can take photos of any problems and send to them to Veolia, the contractor. Vans will also have CCTV to check accuracy of collections with the footage saved for 3 months and to spot fly-tipping hotspots. The fly tipping penalty will be a fixed charge of £200 if Camden can actually get the right evidence. The whole thing sounded a bit “shop your neighbour”, though everyone at the meeting was too polite to say so – and maybe some neighbours deserve to be shopped?

The representatives from Veolia were surprised by all the exceptions residents raised. For instance, they could only say they’d ‘look at ways to contain the waste’ in response to Solent Road’s bag-ripping foxes. If you can’t get your recycling – or any – bin on or next to your pavement you’ll have to ring up and ask for an ‘assisted service’. This will presumably mean Veolia would exeed its allotted 15.6 seconds per property – which translates as “one step in”. If you currently have green or brown wheelie bins you’ll have to get stickers if you want to use your bins.

Green/garden waste will be collected weekly, but it’s £75 for a year or £60 for the nine months from spring to autumn. These collections (three sacks a week) can be shared with neighbours, but only if you pre-register. Pensioners will get a discount, though the details are still being decided.

Still ‘no’ to soft plastics like dry cleaners’ coverings and junk mail wrappers. Caddy liners? ‘They don’t last a fortnight. Change them weekly.’ Light bulbs won’t be collected. Rats? ’Keep your receptacle clean.’ (And ‘No comment’ to query about new commercial rubbish collectors springing up across Camden.)

It’s strange to think that it was only a few years ago that we were getting bi-weekly rubbish collections, and soon we will have only fortnightly. West Hampstead already has a rubbish problem, with regular fly tipping, although time banded collections on West End have improved things. We will have to see how things change with the new contract from – and you couldn’t make this up – 1st April.

What have you missed since February 20th?

Storm Doris hit West Hampstead hard with trees and even a brick wall blown over.

M&S opened in West Hampstead Square on Wednesday, but just two days later a fire broke out in one of the other tower blocks with five fire engines attending. A ninth-floor balcony was damaged but thankfully no-one was hurt. Presumably this means more delays for people moving in.

Preliminary plans weer announced to turn Gondar Gardens reservoir and wildlife site into luxury retirement homes with chauffeurs!

Spring is already springing on West End Green. Photo via @bubela

Spring is already springing on West End Green. Photo via @bubela

Teenager Morgan Williams has gone missing. Although from High Wycombe, she is believed to have links to the West Hampstead area. She also went missing last month, but was found safe and well.

Tom went to One Bourbon to see what it offered the non-meat eater – his verdict here!

Local vicar, Father Andrew Foreshew-Cain has been nominated for a British LGBT award in the “Top 10 Outstanding Contributions to LGBT+ Life” category.

The rapist who carved his name into a schoolgirl’s arm in Hampstead Cemetery and then left her for dead was jailed for 17 years.

Council tax is set to rise by 4.99% (a rise of 5% would require a referendum) as Camden attempts to cover some of the cuts from central goverment.

Very sad news for those customers of Andy’s eponymous barber shop in Fairhazel Gardens. Andy has passed away after an illness. He was the epitome of a classy gentleman and had been cutting hair there for more than 50 years.

Lola’s cupcakes is due to open at the end of April in the old Colour Division site.

Maygrove Road residents took their parking concerns to Camden, but still need a lot more signatures on their petition before the council will actually consider taking any action.

The Financial Times went behind the scenes at Kilburn’s very own School of Rock – the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance.

Tweet of the Week

Tom tackles a taco at One Bourbon

Strange things have been happening in the world of tomato ketchup. First, upon requesting some whilst enjoying a magnificent fish & chips in The Beehive, Crawford Street, the waitress apologised that they didn’t have any ketchup, “however we do have this…”, she said, before disappearing for a moment and returning with several sachets of sauce instead of a bottle. Absolutely fine, false alarm!

Second, what is this nonsense whereby ketchup is suddenly on the sugar-police watch list? Facebook is annoying enough without that sort of rubbish. As if you sit there drinking three bottles of the stuff, for goodness’ sake?

Anyway… musing these condiment-related anomalies, I dived into One Bourbon for a spot of lunch after challenging myself as to whether salmon tacos could possibly be any good? The idea sounded odd, but given there were a couple of side dishes I liked the sound of, I steeled myself and took up residence near the window with a reassuring wine list.

Salmon tacos

Salmon tacos

I was curious as to how slabs of salmon and crunchy cabbage would work, however the former was scrambled into morsels and the latter pickled and shredded; things were starting to make sense. Watercress was present, but a little more of the coriander and onion would have boosted the salsa’s flavour. Generally, these tacos seemed a fresh and healthy way to accompany a couple of reds (probably not the best match, but who cares?), and aside from the slight weirdness of the dish being partly warm, partly cold, I was all too pleased to scoff everything.

A side of chips added to the fun, with, would you believe it, Heinz tomato ketchup! I’d half expected it to be banned by that point after the “very serious health-scare”. Just in case, One Bourbon also provides other punchy ketchups, such as the sweet and mellow Smoggy Hog Smoked Chilli.

Ketchup as it was meant to be served

Ketchup as it was meant to be served

I’ve no idea if desserts were an option, as none were apparent on the menu – a pity, as although three tacos proved a relatively satisfying meal, a toffee pudding or something would have been suitable as a sort of mobile central heating solution for the walk home.

Being serious for five seconds, it does appear One Bourbon is trying to offer some variation on the menu, which is a positive thing; I’d like to try their huevos rancheros, and the smoked tofu & quinoa main (thankfully fleshed-out with butternut squash, peppers, and kidney beans) might be decent for vegetarians or those planning on a curry later (ooh that’s got me thinking…)

For now though I’m off to stock-up on tomato sauce before it’s too late!

What have you missed since February 13th?

West Hampstead is an “area of intensification” – how far are we to meeting the 2031 housing target? (Spoiler: Very).

In Valentine’s week, what better than an Insight into one of our local florists?

Swiss Cottage councillor Andrew Marshall, who has already said he will not seek reelection next year, left the Conservative party over Brexit, and will sit out his remaining term as an independent.

Never realised how colourful the stained glass is at Hampstead Synagogue. Quite beautiful. via Chris Simpson

Never realised how colourful the stained glass is at Hampstead Synagogue. Quite beautiful. via Chris Simpson

The Friends of West Hampstead Library held a very successful evening with Jim Carter.

The Alliance was up for auction, but bidding stopped at £3.9 million, short of the £4.1 million reserve. The developer paid £2.7 million for it only a year ago, so it seems a £1 million profit in a year wasn’t enough.

From one baker to another: Wenzels has opened where Dylan’s used to be.

*Do like West Hampstead Life on Facebook, if that’s your sort of thing*

From one south-east Asian restaurant to another: Ladudu, which closes at the end of March, is set to become a Rosa’s Thai.

West Hampstead Square has opened up… for deliveries!

What is happening at Lena’s Cafe after the Porsche accident? Nothing it appears. Turns out a new owner bought the café only a month earlier. How’s that for bad luck.

Londis on Mill Lane was broken into last week.

A 16-year-old was arrested and charged with the shooting of Yasir Beshira in Kilburn earlier this year. A 17-year-old was released on bail and two other men are in custody.

A West Hampstead woman returning home from a funeral was killed after being hit by a lorry near Euston.

The planning application to install a large mobile phone mast on Blackburn Road was refused.

It’s a long read, but if you care about Camden’s budget then this piece by finance chief Theo Blackwell is interesting.

Minkies ran into all sorts of trouble on Twitter over dumping rubbish on West End Lane. Public pressure (and possibly a letter to the boss) seems to have paid off and at least the rubbish is now correctly bagged.

Talking of rubbish, It’s the WHAT AGM at the library this Monday and the public discussion will be on rubbish. Come along, quiz Camden and have your say.

Tweet of the week

Housing targets 90 percent fulfilled with 14 years to go!

Last week we looked at job creation in West Hampstead. This week, we turn our attention to housing.

In the London Plan 2016, West Hampstead is glamorously referred to as “Area for intensification, number 45”. The original designation dates back to the time Ken Livingstone used to commute to City Hall via West Hampstead and no doubt saw all this space around the railway tracks. The “intensification” was to increase housing by 800 new homes and jobs by 100 in the Growth Area, mapped below.

In 2015, Camden confirmed these numbers in its own plan for  the West Hampstead Interchange over the following 16 years, though this is substantially lower than the number outlined in its 2010 Core Strategy document, which was 2,000 new homes but was then scaled back to 1,000. The “Interchange” is almost exactly the same as the growth area.

It is not clear who originally drew the outline of the Growth Area, and why, for example, it didn’t include the council-owned light industrial site  Liddell Road.

WH Growth area2

In early 2017, how is West Hampstead progressing towards this housing target?

Nido. The student housing on Blackburn Road immediately presents a challenge. It has 347 beds but unless you really stretch the definition of a “home”, that does not really equate to 347 new homes. A better measure, though not perfect, is to look at it as 39 shared-flats and 52 studios = 91 units.

Asher House. Next door to the student housing is the former Accurist offices, which was fairly quietly converted to residential under a government scheme to speed up planning that improved the valuation of the building without including any affordable housing. It was converted into 25 units, however, it is possible that it may be fully redeveloped in the future, which would be likely to add a couple of stories.

West Hampstead Square. If anyone ever actually moves in, then its seven blocks contain 198 units (145 market, 33 affordable rented, 20 shared ownership).

156 West Lane. The Travis Perkins building that’s just been given the go-ahead for redevelopment will have 164 units (85 market, 44 affordable rent, 35 shared ownership).

And 198 new flats at West Hampstead Square

And 198 new flats at West Hampstead Square

That’s 478 units so far within the Growth Area, but there are a number of large developments that fall just outside the Growth Area, but at the same sort of density. Should they be included in the targets? We are talking about large-scale dense developments on the fringes of the growth area and whose residents will certainly be gravitating to West Hampstead for their transport needs in particular.

Liddell Road. The largest of these developments, Liddell Road includes 106 units of housing to sit alongside the school (indeed, paying for the school). Just four of these units will be at affordable rents.

The Residence. Next door at 65-67 Maygrove Road, this scheme includes 91 units (79 market, 4 shared ownership, 3 social rented and 5 affordable rented).

The Ivery & The Central. The old Iverson Tyres site has 19 units (15 market, 2 shared ownership, 2 social rented) while the former garden centre site next door has 33 units (23 market, 7 socially rented, 3 shared ownership).

Adding these additional 249 to the 478 gives us 727 housing units – 90% of the housing target for 2031!

There are at least three other sites in the planning pipeline, although progress is slow and final numbers speculative.

11 Blackburn Road. This attractive but run-down Victorian warehouse had a planning application for six 2-bed houses and the conversion of the main warehouse into B1 employment space downstairs with a couple of flats upstairs. Nothing seems to be happening with this at the moment, but there’s a potential 8 units.

14 Blackburn Road. Way back in 2004, permission was granted to redevelop the Builders Depot. This was for two 4-storey blocks, one with employment space and one with 8 houses and 6 flats, plus underground parking. This permission has now lapsed so would have to be renegotiated, but these 14 units, would likely be the minimum of any new proposal.

Finally, Midland Crescent. That’s next to the O2 centre on the Finchley Road – which still counts as the West Hampstead Growth Area. This has been refused planning permission three times. The latest proposal included student housing, private housing, a shop and employment space. Again any estimate of potential is speculative, but the latest application would have delivered 40 units.

That’s a potential extra 62 new units within the growth area, but on top of that there are other sites that could be – and in some cases will be – redeveloped for housing: The Taveners Yard on Iverson Road, the Paramount carpark and – the big one – the O2 carpark.

At the workshop on the 02 carpark, there was talk of 300 new homes as well as employment and retail space. In one fell swoop West Hampstead could soar past the 1,000 new homes target. Maybe then, the tube station would finally be decreed worthy of an upgrade. Maybe.

An Insight into: Achillea Flowers

Our last Insight focused on one man with two businesses. This time we’re talking to two women who run one business: Kate Rader and Clare Emburey who run Achillea, the florist on Mill Lane.

What brought you to West Hampstead?

Clare: We actually met at the tomato stall at Queen’s Park market. Kate, who has known me since I was a child, asked me if I loved my job (as a florist), I did but was ready for a change. “Great”, said Kate, “That’s the answer I was looking for. Let’s open a business and we’ll just have fun; if we feel like it one day we can dress up like geishas!”

The next step was to meet for a coffee on Mill Lane; we looked at a couple of sites, but none was quite right. Walking back, we passed this corner shop which I said looked ‘sick’. Kate had no idea I meant cool.

The builder saw us and asked if we were looking for a shop. He invited us in to take a look and when we said we wanted to open a florist he told us his wife was one! He gave us the number of the landlord, who we called immediately and we agreed on the spot to rent the shop.

Within one week it had gone from concept to actually renting a shop for the business.

Kate: People said Mill Lane is a difficult street and it won’t last. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was all very serendipitous.

Clare: It’s a good idea we didn’t have time to stop and and think, but I’m really glad we did it. Never did the dressing up as a geisha, although we did do halloween costumes one year.

Clare and Kate outside their serendipitous shop, Achillea.

Clare and Kate outside their serendipitous shop, Achillea.

What is your first/fondest memory of the area?

Kate: The glass shop opposite us, run by Derek. I’ve been using it for 35 years, plus the framers next door.

Clare: I just loved that I could be myself – and of course the first time I met my fiancé at the Kitchen Table. Now we are getting married – a Mill Lane marriage, that’s a first!

At this time of year some eye-popping colour to brighten your day. Perfect.

At this time of year some eye-popping colour to brighten your day. Perfect.

What’s surprised you most about how West Hampstead had changed?

Kate: It used to have really useful things, but that’s gone, although I don’t really use West End Lane much. Here on Mill Lane you can still get useful things: your keys cut, physiotherapy if you need it, or yoga at Curled Leaf.

Clare: I don’t feel it has changed that much – West Hampstead is a great place that is quite settled, rather than a cool place full of egos.

What’s for lunch?

Either the Kitchen Table or Curled Leaf, although we have had some quite enjoyable nights at the Alliance for our Christmas dinners.

Describe West Hampstead in three words?

Better than Hampstead

Is anyone counting West Hampstead’s job growth?

The reason West Hampstead seems inundated with new developments is that it was designated a “Growth Area” by City Hall. The Growth Area is specifically the part of West Hamsptead around the railway lines. Targets were set for 800 new homes and 100 new jobs between 2010 and 2031. Yes, 2031.

WH Growth area2

Growth Area is outlined in black

Seven years in, we are far ahead of that job target, but there seems to be little joined up thinking about the implications. The whole issue is far more complex than it should be.

For a start, Camden seems to have changed the employment target from 100 jobs to 500 jobs (or 7, 000m2 of business space) in its Core Strategy 2010-2025 document. Yet Camden’s soon-to-be-adopted Local Plan 2016-2031 still talks about the Mayor’s targets of 100 jobs, which is also the current London plan target.

Inside Ink at Blackburn House Image: Ink Global/Sidetrade

Inside Ink at Blackburn House – Image: Ink Global/Sidetrade

Nido student housing. The first development built in the growth area was the student housing on Blackburn Road that replaced the Mercedes Benz garage. It contains 2,100m2 of office employment space, which at 12m2 of floor space per job should have created 175 jobs. It took a while to let the space out, but now, the magazine publisher Ink Global operates out of the space (if you have ever read the Easyjet Magazine that’s one of theirs), and they sublet some, but in total there are 150 full time jobs on site, and the student housing itself accounts for nearly 20 full-time jobs on site. So at ~170 full-time jobs, this space has delivered as predicted but not quite as planned. And indeed that is the entire London Plan job target met in one fell swoop.

But of course it doesn’t stop there,

West Hampstead Square. Alongside the 198 flats, there’s the M&S (583 m2), which will have ~35 full-time equivalent staff. There is another 300m2 of retail space, which has been taken by the Village Haberdashery, Provenance butcher, and Johns & Co. (Ballymore’s in-house estate agent). There’s also a further five units of 100m2 each for business or healthcare still to be let. There has been early stage interest from a doctor and a dentist for possibly one unit apiece, and other businesses for the remaining units. All told that should result in another 40 full time employees. This would give a total of ~90 new full-time jobs.

156 West End Lane. Employment was a hot topic for this redevelopment given that Travis Perkins would be removed. And of course the 2,400m2 of empty council offices had employees. The new retail space (763m2 divided up into three units, provisionally two retail and one restaurant) should create ~45 jobs, with another ~70 jobs coming from the regular office (593m2) and affordable small business workspace (500m2).

Liddell Road. Liddell Road actually falls outside the Growth Area, but does that mean that its impact should be completely ignored when thinking about local infrastructure? We would argue not.

Yellow = school, blue = housing and red = offices, workshops

Yellow = school, blue = housing and red = offices, workshops

Alongside the residential units to be built there is 3,700m2 of employment space. According to the planning officers report this will create ~280-295 full-time jobs when fully let. And the new school should eventually account for ~50 jobs. 

Iverson Tyres. Also outside the Growth Area – just, as part of its planning permission the developer was required to keep 150m2 of light industrial space, however, it has since applied to convert it to B1 office or D1. This should create a further ~10 jobs.

If we add up all the jobs we know about, then we get to just over 700 new jobs in ~8,700m2 of space (including Liddell Road outside the growth area). Even if you deduct the jobs that have been lost from these sites (a hotly contested number especially on Liddell Road), there is no question that net new jobs in West Hampstead will far far exceed both the London Plan target of 100, and Camden’s revised target of ~500.

And there are still more growth area sites to be developed, such as Midland Crescent, which will add another 100 or so, and of course the O2 car park, which has the potential to dwarf every other site.

But will all the developments deliver the total jobs predicted? Is there demand for office space in West Hampstead? Only a couple of years ago, 65 & 67 Maygrove Road were predominantly office space but agents struggled to let the space and it has since been turned into 91 flats after the developer successfully argued that there was no demand for office space in the area.

Another piece of the puzzle is that much of the new employment space is labelled ‘start-up’ and ‘incubator’ space, both at 156 West End Lane and Liddell Road. Although this sounds trendy, there is no sign of anyone offering, for example, co-working space in the area. If Camden was serious about this approach, it could have tested the waters at 156 West End Lane (the upper floors of which have been empty for years now) as a ‘meanwhile’ space for start ups and creative businesses. It feels a bit like Dad dancing at a family wedding, faintly embarrassing jumping on a bandwagon.

David Matthews of local agents Dutch and Dutch, which is letting the 500m2 flexible commercial space in West Hampstead Square, is unsurprisingly upbeat about the situation. The space hasn’t officially started to be marketed yet because construction isn’t finished yet (no surprise), but he says there has been strong demand.

West Hampstead is changing, and all these new jobs around the stations will change it even more, hopefully bringing more activity during the day though also more commuters using the stations. We looked at the issue of growth area sustainability back in 2013, but nearly four years later it feels that there has been little progress in tackling the inevitable outcomes of increased employment and residential density.

Researching this article has shown how difficult it is to understand exactly how many jobs are being created.  There is no record in the planning applications of how many jobs were lost at the Ballymore site, the Mercedes Garage or even the old Council offices, so it difficult to know the net increase. Is anyone keeping track of this? Things are not helped by confusion on what the actual targets are – with different numbers  in the Camden Core Strategy, and the Camden and London plans for the West Hampstead Growth area. The same plans talk about street improvements and better environment, but when it comes to action there is similar confusion.

Peek behind the scenes at West Hampstead’s newest supermarket

Yes, it’s not just any store opening, it’s an M&S Foodhall opening. Sorry.

No doubt some West Hampstead residents (especially those living south of the railway) are counting down the days until the shop opens on February 22nd at West Hampstead Square.

As part of its customer engagement, M&S and its contractors Wates offered a sneak preview of the new store to any interested parties.

Although the store was still in the final stages of construction, the equipment and fittings were already in place giving a good idea of what to expect. From what we could see it has a familiar M&S Foodhall look. No great surprise. The ceiling pipework and lighting is exposed, which fits in with the contemporary look of West Hampstead Square.

Wafting bread smells as your enter.

Wafting bread smells as you enter.

As you enter, to your left will be an in-store bakery next to a large flower and plant display.  Straight ahead are metres and metres of chiller cabinets for all those M&S fresh food and ready meals. Yes, including Chicken Kiev.  Down at the end is fruit and veg.

Spot the chicken Kiev.

Spot the Chicken Kiev.

Turning to the right at the end, coming back along the parallel aisle is a large wine section with dry goods opposite.

Past the wine and dry goods is be a paper and card section but – two surprises at the checkout – only SCOTs. No M&S has not got some strange new employment policy, it stands for Self-Check Out Tills.

There is an M&S collection point for online purchases, with a couple of tills for the less technical among us. The other surprise was the absence of a coffee counter at the moment. Nor is there the promised hot-food take away unit. That would have required an on site toilet, which proved too complicated to arrange. Not too complicated, apparently, is customer WiFi.

Great S.C.O.T.!

Great S.C.O.T.!

Given West Hampstead’s very poor experience of supermarket delivery vehicles (yes, we’re looking at you Tesco), everyone took a keen interest in the back of the unit, and we were surprised to see quite a small warehouse space, which suggests deliveries will need to be frequent.

Then a quick tour downstairs to see the space for the 55 new staff (20 of whom have been recruited locally). They will be led by the store manager, Kate Thomas.

It's a fridge Jim, but not as you know it

It’s a fridge Jim, but not as you know it

The store was due to open six months ago in August last year. Although those of us with long memories might recall that there was talk of M&S opening on this site twenty years ago. It’s been a long wait.

No caption necessary!

No caption necessary!

 

156 West End Lane proposal gets green light

156 West End Lane latest plans. Image via Design and Access Statement

156 West End Lane latest plans. Image via Design and Access Statement

After a lengthy debate in the council chamber on Thursday, the Labour-dominated planning committee voted 11-2 in favour of the proposed development of 156 West End Lane – the Travis Perkins building. The plan is for 164 residential units along with some retail, office and community space.

Four of our local councillors sit on the committee: Labour’s Phil Rosenberg and James Yarde from West Hampstead, and Richard Olszewski (Lab) and Flick Rea (LibDem) from Fortune Green. Flick had already stood down from the committee for this decision so that she could speak against it. The other three stated before the meeting that they were going in with “an open mind”.  In the end, Phil voted against, the other two in favour.

Camden’s planning department and the planning committee clearly have difficult decisions to make. However, when Camden is both judge and jury for applications on its own sites, as in this case, it is always hard to shake the belief that more transparency, more frankness and less spin would help get better outcomes. The full planning officer’s report is here (PDF, 15Mb download). The recommendation was to accept the proposal.

The meeting began with statements for and against the development and in a rare development, the three opposing speakers were given two minutes each rather than the five minutes collectively that is usually allowed. Yes, a whole extra minute to fight their corner!

First was Joseph Black of does-what-it-says-on-the-tin ‘Stop the Blocks’ campaign. Unfortunately, he ran out of time partly due to a technical problem with his presentation. Their objections covered a wide range of issues, from the height and mass of the buildings and resulting overshadowing, to the segregation of the development, to potential danger from the new access road. He was followed by Larry Trachtenberg, chair of the Crediton Hill residents association, who talked about the negative impact on the conservation area. Finally there was an employee from Travis Perkins who saw her job in jeopardy.

Cllr Flick Rea went next – as a councillor she is exempt from the two minute rule. She has extensive planning experience and knows West Hampstead very well. In a passionate speech she pointed out that there were more than 600 written objections to the plans, which is exceptionally high for any application. She objected to the proposed development’s impact on the conservation area, to its blockiness, to the possible danger from the access road and to the detrimental impact on the village atmosphere of West Hampstead. Finally, she got one of the few laughs of the evening by saying it ‘looks like one of the worst excesses of East Croydon town centre’. Commitee chair, Cllr Heather Johnson tried to cut off but, being made of sterner stuff, Flick managed to get her conclusion in.

These statements were followed by questions from councillors on different aspects of the proposal;

  • Jobs: The development will include 1093m2 of employment space (half affordable for start-up units and half normal office space) and 793m2 of retail space. Planning officers argued this would create 108 new jobs overall.
  • Design: Cllr Andrew Marshall raised concerns on the brick colour (and he’s right to worry).  Cllr Sue Vincent asked why the building height didn’t fall in line with the sloping land.
  • Density: Cllr Richard Cotton asked how this proposal compared to the London guidelines, and was told that at 788 habitable rooms/hectare it exceeded the 700/ha. guidelines, although this is commonly the case.
  • Overshadowing: Yes, councillors were told, the outdoor games area will be in shadow on summer afternoons, but not enough to breach any guidelines.
  • Vehicle access: The planning and transport officers argued there would be fewer entrances/exits than there are with the current builders’ yard and that it would be safe.
  • Impact on local transport: Cllr Rosenberg asked about the impact of additional users of local transport.  The officer said that the effect would be small, and they couldn’t allocate any money directly from the development to help.
  • Community space: The development will have a 63m2 room available to the community, “because there is a shortage in West Hampstead.” As our recent article showed there are nearly 30 other community spaces for hire in the area. The new room could work well but, the costs will have to be covered and these have not been specified.

Perhaps the most contentious issue is that of affordable housing. This was discussed, though some councillors seemed to have a shaky grasp of this key but undoubtedly complicated topic. Since April last year, Camden’s strategy has been for so-called “affordable housing” to be affordable-rented and not shared-ownership. Yet this application still includes ‘shared ownership’ units in order to meet the 50% affordable housing target that the council had set itself. How rich must you be to afford shared ownership? We explore this more in this related article.

After so much discussion – two hours, your slightly stiff-necked correspondent can confirm – the vote came and went in a matter of seconds. The result was not a surprise. Ten councillors in favour, including Yarde and Olszewski, and two against – Rosenberg and Cotton. Although local Tory activists were noisily opposed to the scheme, the two Conservative councillors on the committee, Cllr Marshall and Cllr Roger Freeman voted to approve the scheme. You can watch the whole glorious event unfold here or in the video embedded at the end of this article.

Vote on 156 West End Lane

Vote on 156 West End Lane. Cllrs Rosenberg, bottom left, and Cotton (2nd row right) voted against. Chair Heather Johnson (not pictured) voted in favour. 

Despite the lengthy debate, there was little mention of how to spend the community infrastructure levy (CIL) that the developers will pay in order to help West Hampstead cope with the impact of the development. There is a curious disconnect between the political push to impose yet another another development on West Hampstead, and the lack of any similar push to ensure there is masterplanning and spending of CIL to make day-to-day improvements so these developments can be absorbed successfully.

There was also little mention of the NDF, despite this being the first major development to be tested since the neighbourhood plan was approved. And the NDF was behind much of the push to improve the development, though the group still opposed the final version of the plan. Perhaps, the council could turn to the NDF to help with a significant role in masterplanning and that CIL spending.

Now we wait for the timetable for demolition and building, and yet more works traffic on West End Lane.

Developments pile pressure on street parking

Some residents of Maygrove and Iverson Roads are fed up with the increasingly difficult parking situation they face in light of all the new developments on these roads.

The local residents association, MILAM, wants to see a review of parking hours and is suggesting a sub-zone that has different rules to the CA-Q zone in which these streets sit. Specifically, it would like to see controls extending past 6.30pm.

CA-Q is a large zone that runs along Kilburn High Road from Quex Road all the way up to Cricklewood. It has controlled parking between 8.30am and 6.30pm. Camden is reluctant to sub-divide the zone although subdivisions are not unusual – there are already two within CA-Q. However, any change to zone rules inevitably has knock-on effects and therefore not everyone is automatically in favour of change.

CA-Q parking zone runs from Cricklewood to Kilburn

CA-Q parking zone runs from Cricklewood to Kilburn

Camden has said that for any review of parking it needs a petition signed by 800 residents of the affected parking zone. As it happens, a petition has already been set up by a resident of Maygrove Road. She was fed up of not being able to park as she used to before the recent developments opened. If you want to sign it (and you live or work in the CA-Q area) click here.

What’s the problem?
The new developments on Iverson and Maygrove – The Residence (91 units, Maygrove Rd), The Central (33 units, Iverson) and The Ivery (19 units, Iverson) – are designated “car free”, like every other new development in Camden. This creates a ‘carparteid’ between residents of new developments and existing residents.

“Car free” means no parking spaces for residents (although The Residence does offer some underground parking for disabled drivers) and in theory, these residents are also not allowed parking permits for street parking. However, as MILAM residents are finding, theory and reality are two different things. Some new residents appear able to get round controls; of course they can legally park outside the controlled hours, some can get hold of a blue badge for disabled drivers, it’s possible to get a local friend to register the car to get a permit, or to hire a local garage space, displacing another car onto the road that can legally obtain a permit, or use visitors’ permits.

Anecdotal evidence from longer-term residents such as Monica Regli, chair of MILAM, suggests that while there used to be spare parking spaces, these have filled up and people have started to park on single yellow lines.

@NW6_residents: Once again no parking for residents! Instead more arguments as not one-way!

@NW6_residents: Once again no parking for residents! Instead more arguments as not one-way!

Now the single yellow lines are filling up, which creates additional problems. Cars parking on the single yellow lines mean that traffic can no longer pull over on Maygrove Road to allow oncoming cars to pass. The result: cars getting stuck head-to-head and road rage incidents. According to Monica, there are now calls for Maygrove to become a one-way street.

@NW6_residents "Another horrendous morning in Maygrove road! Screaming arguments, reversing full length of road! Wake up @camdentalking #congestion #help!"

@NW6_residents “Another horrendous morning in Maygrove Road! Screaming arguments, reversing full length of road!”

Will it get worse?
Yes. Almost certainly. The new school on Liddell Road opens this September. At first it will be year one pupils only; but each year a new class will join. The head teacher won’t have to worry though, she gets her own parking space.

The problem is set to get worse still with phase two of Liddell Road (the flats and business space) as Camden seems to have ignored the GLA guidelines on parking. This development will have 106 residential units and 3700m2 of business space, which is approximately enough for 40-50 people. All served by two and a half disabled parking spaces.

Let’s not forget that West Hampstead Square is about to open with 196 new flats, and some employment space, and Camden will decide shortly on  156 West End Lane with most likely another 164 units and 1,800m2 of employment space. It’s true that many residents won’t have cars – car ownership in this part of London is very low, but it isn’t zero. The excellent transport links mean that employees can probably get to and from work on tube, train or bus, but firms have clients, deliveries and disabled employees.

It also seems unrealistic to think that none of these residents will have cars already, or may need a car for work (doctors, midwives, plumbers, etc.). Are more car club spaces the answer? Possibly, though demand is lower than you might think – West Hamsptead Square actually removed some car club spaces.

What are the objections to parking changes?
James Earl, chair of the Fordwych Road residents association (and of the Neighbourhood Development Forum) is not in favour of wholesale changes to the parking zone rules because of the possible knock on impact to other streets outside any sub-zone. A new resident of the Residence on Maygrove Road has also objected to any changes. She said that she was aware of the existing hours of parking control when she moved in, and that was fine, but any changes to hours now would be very problematic as her husband could no longer park!

MILAM is getting support from local councillors, Phil Rosenberg and James Yarde. Monica had hoped to put the issue as a deputation to the council, but was instead offered a chance to put the issue to a scrutiny committee.

‘West Hampstead’ to disappear from northbound 139 bus signs

Proposed changes to bus routes will mean ‘West Hampstead’ may fall out of London’s collective consciousness as the words will no longer appear on the 139 bus as it heads north from Waterloo.

Having pulled an earlier consultation on changes to the bus routes that run north on the Baker Street corridor (funnily enough right before the Mayoral elections). TfL consulted again on the same proposals in August, and this time the outcome is to push through the proposed changes, which are due to be implemented from the late spring. A former councillor once explained this approach as being ‘consult and ignore’.

The TfL report reveals that only 32% of respondents supported or partially supported the changes to route 13, even fewer (26%) the changes to the 82 and 25% supported changes to the 189. Changes to the 113 were more popular with 48% support or partial support and there was actually a majority in favour of one change: 52% supported the changes to the 139.

Soon to vanish? destination - West Hampstead

Soon to vanish? destination – West Hampstead

Disappearing signage aside, the changes are probably overall good news for West Hampstead (hence the majority support for the 139 changes). The 139 will now run all the way to Golders Green, which will mean the end of ‘ghost’ buses that run empty along Mill Lane as they return to the Cricklewood depot, and that have been such a bugbear. It will also increase the frequency of buses between Golders Green and West Hampstead.

Proposed changes to 13, 82 , 113, 139 and 189 bus routes. Image: TFL

Proposed changes to 13, 82 , 113, 139 and 189 bus routes. Image: TFL

The other change that affects West Hampstead less directly is to remove route 82, but increase the frequency of the 13. Not that the 13 will be the bus it once was – it effectively becomes the new 82 (still with me?). The 13, which currently terminates at Golders Green, would continue to North Finchley (where the 82 currently ends). Southbound, it would no longer terminate at Aldwych, but instead finish at Victoria (where the 82 currently terminates). To recap: new 13=old 82.

For occasional users of the buses up and down the Finchley Road, the overall loss of frequency during the morning rush hour is likely to be the biggest negative change. More regular users might notice a bigger difference.

The other (minor) proposed change is that the 189 would end at Marble Arch instead of Oxford Circus. This means that neither the 13 nor 189 would run down Oxford Street, helping to reduce the excessive number of buses along there. If you want to come back to West Hampstead from Oxford Street, you either take a bus to Marble Arch and change, or wait for a 113 or 139. The new one-hour hopper fare (or transfer) means anyone using an Oystercard or contactless card does not have to pay again for a second journey taken within one hour of joining the first bus. So no extra cost, but more waiting around potentially.

Meanwhile, we shall mourn the loss of that small sense of pride of standing by Piccadilly Circus as the 139 to West Hampstead hoves into view. And no more will Emma Hignett, the voice of the bus announcments, chime out with, “This is the 139. To. West Hampstead”. End of an era.

What have you missed since January 23rd?

This past week West Hampstead has been hit by one water mains leak after another. The first was in Fawley Road where one man fought a valiant fight to get it sorted.

Others appeared in Achilles Road, Fortune Green Road and West End Lane. They were particularly treacherous when it was icy. Thames Water is sorting them out – eventually. Doesn’t the council have some responsibility to notify Thames?

Tulip’s Brexit Exit: our MP, Tulip Siddiq stood down from the opposition front bench so she can vote against the government’s Brexit bill this week. Jeremy Corbyn confirmed on the radio that shadow ministers couldn’t defy the three-line whip (but oh-the-irony that he voted against his party 535 times in the last twenty years).

Renewals work on the Jubilee line. Image via @jubileeline

Renewals work on the Jubilee line. Image via @jubileeline

WHL got another Insight into a local business; this time Rock Men’s Salon and Wired Co. coffee on Broadhurst Gardens. Why two businesses? They are run by the same guy.

The Village Haberdashery finally opened in West Hampstead Square. Yay!

156 West End Lane (aka Travis Perkins) is going to planning committee this week. The officer recommends approval.  If you want to refresh yourself about the development, A2Dominion’s website has a summary.

Camden says 50% of residential floorspace at 156 is defined as affordable; yet 35 of the 79 ‘affordable’ flats are shared ownership.  Last week we discovered that to buy a one-bed shared-ownership flat in nearby Iverson Road would require an income of over £65,000 (putting purchasers in the top 10% of taxpayers). Affordable?

There is a planning application for a 15 metre mobile phone mast on Blackburn Road.

SALT (formerly Lower Ground Bar) was back before Camden’s Licensing Panel as the police are still concerned about (alleged) drug-taking and violence at the venue.

West Hampstead politics is hotting up…

The Conservatives have announced their candidates for next year’s local elections. Several old hands standing down and lots of new faces.

And the candidate for Kilburn is that ‘ordinary member of the public’ who made a deputation to the council about waste on West End Lane (but err who works as a Tory parliamentary researcher).

There was a very interesting internal Labour Party report about its prospects for those elections; West Hampstead and Fortune Green are ‘true marginals’ and Kilburn a ‘firewall’. Labour is concerned that the introduction of fortnightly waste removal will be a key issue.

Nothing from the Lib Dems yet though. They have been rather quiet of late.

He’s an accountant, not a spy. Although her appeal was turned down, it appears that one of the charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the West Hampstead mother being held in Tehran’s Evin prison is that she is married to a British spy. He isn’t, he’s an accountant.

The shape of things to come 1. If you aren’t feeling well over the next three months and call NHS 111 you will be diagnosed by an app! Camden and Islington NHS Trust is trialling ‘Babylon’, a medical diagnosis app. Claims to be more accurate than a real-life doctor.

The shape of things to come 2. The new Camden and Islington Police Chief revealed at a meeting on Thursday that Camden may trial drones to help policing.

The Jester Festival is under threat. It needs new committee members to keep it going. If you’re ready to step up to the plate for West Hampstead contact moc.l1519358377iamg@1519358377lavit1519358377seFre1519358377tseJ1519358377

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An Insight into: Rock Men’s Salon and Wired Co.

John Padalino runs not one but two local businesses – and they are next door to each other. Rock Men’s Salon and Wired Coffee on Broadhurst Gardens. If you don’t know them already, they are a couple of the ‘hipper’ businesses here, but with a mix of typical West Hampstead customers.

What brought you West Hampstead?

The C11 bus from Brent Cross.

It was literally by accident. I had moved up to London from Devon, and was searching for a while for somewhere to set up a men’s salon. I trained at my dad’s salon in Devon, which has just celebrated it’s 55th anniversary. I ran it for a while but the pull of London was too strong.

Back in 2010 I was shopping in Brent Cross, and I randomly got on a bus to explore. The bus was a C11, and I got off at this place that had a nice vibe and looked interesting; West End Green. I wandered down West End Lane and at the bottom saw a salon called Matrix, which was empty in a parade of shops opposite the tube station. I thought that it was a pretty good site next to three stations.

Then I went in to Café Bon next door and checked online for leases available in West Hampstead. The first lease that came up was … Matrix!

I immediately called Network Rail, which was  offering a three-year lease with a six-month break clause. I could see there was the potential for redevelopment but the other local shopkeepers said there had been talk of it for 15 years and nothing had happened. So I took the risk and signed the lease.

What happened next?

Business got off to a good start but just three months later a letter arrived giving me my notice! West Hampstead Square was going to be built and our little parade of shops was going to be knocked down. It was pretty stressful having only just got the business off the ground but one of my clients, a surveyor, said, “Face it, London is evolving, it’s going to change, don’t fight it.”

By the time we moved, 18 months later, I had already found a new place round the corner for rock, in what had been the Millennium café. However, my old place was going to be empty for three months so I negotiated with Network Rail to open a pop-up coffee shop there.

John sitting between Rock and a Wired place

John sitting between Rock and a Wired place

What’s your fondest memory of the area?

Getting up at 5.30am and opening the door on that pop-up coffee shop. It opened from December 2011 until February 2012. We decided to focus on the coffee – pure and true – so we decided to work with a great roaster. Tom, my business partner’s dad, made all the furniture but you could still tell it had been a barbers; there were still mirrors on the wall.

Tom and I would start off serving coffee in the morning then pop round to Rock to cut hair! From day one people responded really positively and we got so much encouragement. So when the shop next to Rock became available, my landlady asked if wanted to take it on and the pop-up coffee shop suddenly had a permanent home. I was amazed at how things turned around from just two years earlier.

It is not just Tom and his Dad that helped, but our partners too.  It was a team effort.  Likewise now I couldn’t do it without the baristas at Wired and the other stylists at Rock.  I’m proud of them all.  Also, having a very local website like West Hampstead Life really helped too.

Wired Co. - they really know their coffee.

Wired Co. – they really know their coffee.

What has surprised you most about how West Hampstead has changed?

What has surprised me was the nice mix of customers. With the connections to the City and Canary Wharf we have customers who work in the city, but we also have guys who work in TV and sportsmen. From conservative to cutting edge – a nice mix of everyone.

Broadhurst Gardens has changed even since we arrived but the businesses offer something a bit different, from a pizza cooked in a wood burning stove, bespoke chocolates, violins, and great coffee and food in Wired.

The regulars  really encourage us to improve and change; we’ve introduced V60 and aeropress [Ed – new ways of making of coffee]. Currently, we are seeing demand for plant-based foods and are jointly developing those with our food producers.

What’s for lunch?

Normally I have a smoked turkey, avocado and harrissa sandwich and one of our chia pots for dessert. But this month being VEGANuary, I’m going more vegetarian with our carrot, courguette and hommous on rye with a flat white with cashew milk.

If I go out, I like Pham just a couple of doors down, the food is excellent. Or popping in for a drink at the Gallery.

Describe West Hampstead in three words?

Evolving, supportive and responsive.

Will the Fawley Road leak ever be stopped?

If you live on, or walk or drive down Fawley Road then you won’t have failed to notice the leak that’s been spewing water down the street for the past week. It’s not the only one – Achilles Road and West End Lane also have leaks – harking back to the time a few years ago when West Hampstead leaks seemed to be a weekly occurrence.

One man has been on a personal crusade with Thames Water to try and get this one fixed. Here is his story.

Warning: contains a lot of images of water flowing over tarmac.

What have you missed since January 16th?

vintage Porsche crashed into Lena’s cafe on West End Lane, injuring two women. WHL has the exclusive story from one of them + some dramatic photos of the scene.

Not good news from Tehran. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s appeal against her five year sentence in Iran was turned down.

Bobby F. opened – it’s a timewarp. One review said it was in ‘sleepy West Hampstead’. The cheek of it. We have vintage Porsches crashing just a few doors down.

A weekend of tube closures: TfL engineers line up

A weekend of tube closures: TfL engineers line up

As reported last week, the council wants to close Netherwood Day Centre, due to cuts to adult social care, and shift patients to the Kingsgate Resource centre. This is the third time Netherwood has faced closure. Here is the petition against closure.

The NDF monitored pollution along West Hampstead’s main streets. It found levels were at least 50% over the maximum legal limit – and over four times up by the the junction with the Finchley Road.

Oh la la. La du du is reopening on Monday at 5pm after a refurbish (closure was due to damage from a burst water main).

If you fancy an early peek at the new M&S on 10th Feb, there are a few spaces available. Scheduled opening is 10am Wednesday 22nd Feb.

Vote for your favourite farmer’s market stall. Apparently there are small changes coming to the market (good ones).

Jim Carter spoke about his upcoming fundraising Q&As at the Tricycle.

They’re ‘aving a laugh along the KHR: comedy nights springing up – Abigail’s Party (last Sunday of the month) at the NLT hosted by local Abigail Burdess, Comedy at the Tricycle (fourth? Thursday of month) and of course The Good Ship (every Monday). It’s January, it’s gloomy, why not try something different?

Out of the area but relevant here, estate agents in South London face £100 fines for leaving their boards up longer than two weeks after a sale or rental. Apparently Camden introduced the same fines last year (really?). Why isn’t it enforced?

There was a warning about a burglary scam from our SNT team.

Which is a reminder that Paul Fairman from Camden spoke at the last Area Action meeting on dealing with anti-social behavoir. Worth noting his name in case you have to deal with it at some stage.

Significant track upgrade to Jubilee line tracks so station will be closed next weekend (28/29 Jan).  Plus West End Lane will be reduced to a single lane next by the tube station as well.

Tweet of the week:

A good week for those famous West Hampstead sunsets, but this one made the weather report.

Vintage Porsche crashes into Lena’s cafe: Two injured

Shortly before 3pm on Friday afternoon, a vintage Porsche veered off West End Lane, mounted the pavement and crashed into Lena’s cafe trapping a female customer. The customer, Abigail Cinnamon, was sitting outside with a friend, Jessica Klein. The two 20-year-olds don’t live in the area but had decided to meet up for a ‘quiet coffee’ and chose West Hampstead.

They were sitting outside the cafe when all of sudden Jess, who was sitting facing down West End Lane saw a Green Porsche racing towards them and screamed. Abi, who was facing away from the on-coming car had a split second to register before it crashed into her, throwing her though the plate glass window.

“The next thing I knew I was underneath the glass, in a foetal position. It took a while for the firemen to arrive to get the glass off me. I didn’t feel any pain, however, as the adrenalin had kicked in”. The police and fireman arrived quite quickly but it took time for them to work out how to remove the sheet of glass and release Abi.

Once she was released she was taken to St. Mary’s hospital, as the hospital has a specialised trauma unit and a crew of 11 or 12 were waiting for her. She has two broken bones in her leg, which require an operation. Her friend, Jess, was less seriously injured suffering three fractured ribs and some scratches.

Police and ambulance on the scene of the accident. Photo: Cllr Phil Rosenberg

Police and ambulance on the scene of the accident. Photo: Cllr Phil Rosenberg

The driver was shaken by the accident but was unscathed. It is not entirely clear how the accident happened with some witness reports saying the car swerved to avoid a pedestrian. Violet Ceniceros, who had been sitting in Lena’s just five minutes earlier, was waiting by the bus stop by Sainsbury’s when the accident happened. She reported, that “the car turned left [from Dennington Park Road] on West End Lane from the junction and started speeding then went out of control and crashed into the café”.

A policeman on site explained that the 1967 Porsche was rear-wheel driven and probably ‘kangarooed’ (juddered) on acceleration causing the driver to lose control and for the car to veer across the road.

Councillor Phil Rosenberg who was holding a surgery next door in the Library was one of the first on the scene.  A nearby business owner who heard the crash thought it was a terrorist attack and sought cover at the back of the shop.

Porsche 3

West End Lane was initially closed, but after an hour was reopened to traffic.  The crash scene was still cordoned off with a lone policeman on the scene. He was waiting for the owner to arrange for his insurers to tow the car away.

The dramatic pictures and the novelty of the vintage Porsche have led to the story making both the BBC news and Saturday’s Times.

Bobby F’s timewarp bar opens on West End Lane

Photo: Jane Lucken (model: unknown)

Photo: Jane Lucken (model: unknown)

It’s been a long-time coming. La Brocca closed its doors in June 2015, but its replacement – Bobby Fitzpatrick’s – opens tonight. Bobby’s owners, ULG (who also run The Gallery and The Alice House), have opted for a louche 70s theme for the new bar.

West Hampstead Life was – of course – at the launch party last Friday and the first day of the soft launch on Monday. But what did our various correspondents make of the makeover?

Shalini:
Wow, there’s nothing quite like this in West Hampstead! A throwback bar where you feel like you’re at a party in That 70s show, or in the fully functional underground house-cum-fallout shelter like in Blast From the Past, that film where they thought the world had ended and they lived frozen time, gaudy décor and all.

Photo: Shalini Rawlley

Photo: Shalini Rawlley

The devil is in the details from old-fashioned hand dryers, amber soap and classic books by Fleming and Tolkien and that’s just in the loos! Clunky speakers and fuzzy, chunky TVs; there’s nothing chic about this shabby place, which all adds to the charm.

The only modern hints were the gorgeous cocktails, with twists and classics and all new Bobby creations, served in old fashioned drinking glasses of course! But they serve beers and shooters too, and unpretentious comfort food and the friendliest staff to make your evening a winner.

I would definitely bring my friends back to this groovy bar, it will certainly leave an impression and have you holding back on all the Austin Power’s quotes!

Photo: Shalini Rawlley

Photo: Shalini Rawlley

Mark:
I liked it. I was concerned it was going to be over the top and too faddy but actually it went to the edge but not over it. It’s been very well done. I hope for West Hampstead that it does work, ULG has a good track record. It’s doing something different from the prevalent Brooklyn industrial chic, zagging while the others are zigging. As for the food – the burger was good but I’m not sure recreating 1980s deep dish pizzas is such a good idea – they weren’t that good to begin with. And a mention for the staff were friendly and professional and helped create a good atmosphere.

Jane:
I have many happy memories of La Brocca, so my first ten minutes was spent gasping at how much it has changed. But I’m up for evolution and soon started smiling at how they have brought Bobby’s home to life. I’d have loved the job of sourcing all the crazy bits and bobs – where did they find that hand dryer?! I applaud the owners for moving beyond the too-common industrial luxe aesthetic and creating somewhere genuinely fun and different. The cocktails are excellent, if crazy, just like the whole place really!

Photo: Tom Vanheems

Photo: Tom Vanheems

Tom:
I can see Bobby Fitzpatrick being a hit with the locals. A huge amount of work has gone into the crazy, amusing and even atmospheric 70s design, so that it feels welcoming rather than just a novelty. I sense this will create a good vibe and an inviting place to hang out; the sense of fun and originality is tangible.

Food is well-priced, with fresh, flavoursome American-style pizzas (think soft-base like Franco Manca rather than the old Italian style of La Brocca) – perhaps would be good to see some sides of fresh greens or something, to balance things out a little? Hopefully the wine list will expand beyond the two reds and two whites currently available, though I can confirm that both are very drinkable!

What have you missed since Jan 9th?

Don’t adjust your computer. West Hampstead Life’s fortnightly update has gone back to weekly just as we hear that rubbish collections are going to be fortnightly. Apparently 85% of our waste can be recycled (and recycling collections remain weekly), but many locals are unhappy about the changes.

A West Hampstead teen has been found guilty of attempted murder and rape in the cemetery.

Netherwood Day Care centre is under threat again. As an alternative the Council is proposing an older people’s hub at the Kingsgate centre.

Dramatic skies over West Hampstead. Image from Instagram, Cyberdonkey

Dramatic skies over West Hampstead. Image from Instagram user Cyberdonkey

Last Monday’s tube strike created predictable crowding at Thameslink.

Work started on the Overground station.

The path to the O2 was half blocked off – but it’s not clear why? Is it for a crane for the Overground works?

Bobby Fitzpatrick’s – the old La Brocca – opens Wednesday. New wineshop Tannin and Oak also holds evening tastings ; Dylan’s lease is up for sale (premium free!) but has already gone – another bakery/café we hear. And things are stirring at defunct Rouge Lounge – a new ‘design’ store?

Down at West Hampstead Square the Village Haberdashery is moving from Mill Lane as soon as Ballymore has finished the lobby. And also, M&S has started the fit out. Of course, no-one has actually moved into the flats yet!

Some empty shops on Mill Lane are coming back to life: a bookkeeper/accountant is taking over the old post office; and a(nother) beauty parlour is opening at 74 (near the opticians). That leaves the former Mill Lane Bistro. Any takers?

So you want to start a group, throw a kid’s party or hold at meeting?  But where? We did a round-up of the local options – there are more than you might think.

Richard Osley celebrated 15 years at the CNJ with this post.

156 WEL aka Travis Perkins looks like it’s going to the planning committee in early February. We will know for sure at the end of January.

It’s the NDF meeting this week. Chairman James Earl has announced his departure, come along to find out what is happening.

‘Affordable’/shared income flats are for sale on Iverson Road. There’s an open day on Friday 20th Jan, with a 25% share on offer. The one-bedder requires an minimum income of £61,000 (i.e. within top 10% of UK taxpayers). Seriously?

Pressure is building for a review of parking controls around Iverson/Maygrove Road in light of the new developments there and the Liddell Road school/residential scheme. Camden has  said it would consider a review, but needs 800 signatures of residents from the CA-Q zone to sign a petition. Not everyone of course is in favour.

Zadie Smith recounted her memories of Hampstead School. Happy days.

Want to grow your own veg? Mill Lane Growing Together project (160 Mill Lane) will be allocating beds on Sunday 5th Feb at 11:00. Come along an express an interest.

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Overground redevelopment starts in earnest

Just as West Hampstead Square is entering the home stretch to completion, building work is starting on the redevelopment of the Overground station right next door. Expect some noisy work during the days, and the occasional bit of nighttime work when they need access to the track.

Work has indeed started on redevelopment of the Overground

Work has indeed started on redevelopment of the Overground

The reason for the works is that, as you are aware, the Overground has seen a dramatic rise in passenger numbers. Last year nearly 5 million passengers used West Hampstead Overground, compared to 1.5 million in 2008/09.

The station will be kept operational during construction, so the work is being done in phases. Buckingham Group, the contractors, started on-site works in November 2016. For the first half of this year, it will build foundations, and conduct ground and drainage works. In the second half of the year, it will install the new footbridge, which should open by the end of 2017.

In 2018, lifts will be installed (making the station fully accessible, like the Thameslink), and the planned* opening of the the new station building in August 2018. Then the old station will be dismantled (and a new retail space built in its place) and – hallelujah – the footway will be widened. Finally landscaping will be completed by the end of 2018. Some way to go then.

Buckingham is trying to keep inevitable disruption to a minimum and the line will not be closed during the work. Working hours are expected to be Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays when necessary. There will be some work outside these hours.  Last Sunday in the early hours, for example, the surveyor did some track inspection works and this coming Sunday morning (15th) there will be hoarding adjustment works again in the early hours, though Buckingham claims this will not be noisy. No-one’s moved into West Hampstead Square yet, so there should not be too many people affected anyway yet.

When the work is all completed the new station should look like this.

New Overground station, view from platform. Image via TfL

New Overground station, view from platform. Image via TfL

And like this on West End Lane:

Overground station new entrance. Image via TfL

Overground station new entrance. Image via TfL

*already works are running a couple of months behind schedule.

Fortnightly waste collections for West Hampstead

At last night’s public Area Action Group meeting in West Hampstead, the council gave plenty of stats on Camden’s waste and recycling. But the numbers that will have stuck in most people’s minds were “once” and “every two weeks”, as councillor Meric Apak confirmed what we reported in August; namely that much (though not all) of West Hampstead will move to fortnightly residual waste collections from April 1st. No joke.

Recycling and food waste will still be collected weekly, and this is a clear attempt by Camden to both save money and boost dwindling recycling rates. On top of that, residents who want green waste collection will have to pay £75/year.

Although the turnout last night was down on previous meetings (perhaps due to the tube strike),  there was still a useful and lively discussion though there seemed little chance of the council and unenthused residents – at least those present – finding common ground.

The facts are stark: Camden deals with 46,000 tonnes of domestic residual waste a year but only 26% of waste is recycled – a proportion that’s actually fallen over time. Yet Camden’s estimate is that 85% of household waste is recyclable.

To prove a point, earlier in the day, Richard Bradbury, head of Camden’s Environmental Services, had collected 17 bags of domestic waste from West Hampstead properties. He didn’t go so far as to bring them with him to the meeting, but he had sorted these 17 bags into 5 bags of recyclable material, 4 bags of food waste and just 3 of residual waste. Five bags fewer in total, and only three of the 17 should have been heading to landfill (an 82% recycling rate).

In 2011/12, Camden residents recycled 33% of their waste, so why has this fallen to just 26% today (about the same level as in 2004), especially after the new green wheelie bin regime was introduced in 2012 to make recycling easier? Camden’s target for 2020 is 40%, but to reach this, the council is relying on an awful lot of stick and not much carrot. Camden is not alone – just over half of London boroughs have seen a decline in recycling rates over recent years.

The hope is that fortnightly collections will encourage people to recycle more as recycling will still be collected once a week. We shall see if that happens. Importantly, not all streets will move to fortnightly collections – only existing kerbside collections are affected. The maps below will help most people, but for precise details, contractor Veolia has a very useful and clear search function so you can see how you’ll be affected.

west-hampstead-rubbish

In West Hampstead and Fortune Green, some streets will still keep weekly collections. This is usually related to housing density and availability of space for bins. On the commercial strip of West End Lane, rubbish will still be collected daily, with residents being given enough bags for up to two collections a week.

fortune-green-rubbish

All the streets in South Hampstead will move to fortnightly collections.

swiss-cottage-rubbish