Friday, October 31, 2008
Lib Dems hold Kentist Town
Only political junkies would be waiting up the hear the results of a local by election.
The news in out - Nick Russell is duly elected the new LibDem councillor in Camden's Kentish Town Ward.
Lib Dems 939 Lab 863 Green 518 Con 171 BNP 62 UKIP 21
The voter turnout was 28.73%.
To be continued later.....
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
October it's snowing in London
Can't believe it's actually snowing in London. It started at 6.30 this evening with a kind of hailstones which settle on the ground like snow, then it rained but later tonight the real snow started. It's so thick on the ground some folks braving the cold are having snow ball fights outside.
Considering it's still only October it's must be some kind of meteorological record. News reports claim over 70 years ago but can't find any definitive info on the internet.
Labels: London News
Friday, October 24, 2008
Infestation of Japanese Knotweed found at Kings Cross
From the Camden Gazette this week - Superweed battle on King's Cross site
FEARS have been raised for the future of the King's Cross development after an infestation of Japanese Knotweed was found on site.The plant has spread like wildfire since first being imported in the 19th century and can be found the length of Britain. If not tackled it has the capability of permanently ruining construction sites - and an expert warns if not properly treated it can destroy new buildings and "go through concrete and tarmac".
When I was creating the back section of the garden there was chunks of it growing everywhere. Despite the fact there is supposed legislation in place,
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Knotweed is on Schedule 9, Section 14 of the Act. It is an offence to actively plant or otherwise cause the species to grow in the wild. But it's not actually illegal to have it on your land, nor is there any specific law against allowing it to spread, although doing so could be a nuisance.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990. Japanese Knotweed is classed as ‘controlled waste’ and as such must be disposed of safely at a licensed landfill site according to the Environmental Protection Act (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991. Soil containing knotweed roots can be regarded as contaminated and, if taken off a site, must be disposed of at a suitably licensed landfill site and buried to a depth of at least 5 m.
I couldn't get any advice from either Islington or Camden councils how to get rid of it. A local gardening service helped. I spent months digging down making deep trenches over the whole area pulling up the long twisted roots and spraying a dangerous chemical. Quite sure the neighbours thought I was completely off my rocker.
Relaying the soil and adding more top soil before landscaping took weeks but since then it hasn't reappeared. Don't know I've actually eradicated it for good or it is just lying dormant deep underground - only time will tell.
However across the road on the Camden side at the corner of Lupton Street (see photo), there are two properties where the frontage is growing wild with nothing but the stuff and it is growing out of the wall as far as the shops down to the traffic lights.
Often wondered why if it is so serious as it's claimed, nothing is done about it.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Family tree moving forward.
Been a bit distracted this week working on my family tree. Takes time fitting it in during a busy working week. Couldn't resist it - my paternal cousin Pam sent me an envelope of family docs she managed after a lot of nagging, to get off her brother, cousin Paul.
Great Aunt Daisy as she was known, who lived in Salford, Lancashire used to keep a small box with documents in a draw upstairs and when she died Paul handled everything. So sentimental - pieces torn from an old family bible listed the birth, marriage and death dates of her grand parents, step grandmother and uncles and aunts. So much of the missing information I've been looking for to link up the generations.
Now with four certificates on their way I have the whole family going back 10 generations. Besides that I found more Robinson branches. The strangest first name running through one family line is Laban.
The most interesting bit is Aunty Daisy's records of her first husband John William Hoppley. I found his WW1 military card on the web and the whole military call-up application form of his younger brother.
The photo above taken around 1911 is of my grandparents, my father and his brother, uncle Frank. My father had had his long ringlets cut which is according to a Jewish custom. We still can't find out much information about grandma Frances's family because of the name change to Davis. Grandfather Charles was always a snappy dresser, had a design and tailoring business in Cheetham, Manchester.
The maternal side of the tree is suspended for a while. However the strangest of coincidences happened. My cousin Richard in Australia after reading my blog, suddenly informed me that his son Rodney was living in Islington very near me. Could have knocked me down with a feather. He's been here for 6 years working in the British TV and movie business - Rodney Berling. Imagine his father never told him anything about any of us either despite the fact he has been in touch for years.
Have now spoken to Rod several times on the phone, such a lovely Australian accent. He's working to a tight production deadline and plans to meet up hopefully next week. He wants to get in contact with my brother Jimmy who as readers know is in America in the same industry - James Dale Robinson.
With so many family members interested in what I'm doing and fishing out bits and bobs to help out, my sister's 13 year old grandson was so fascinated to see photos of his grandma's mother and her paternal grandma.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Partners for Improvement website
First chance I've had to review Partners new user friendly website - overall it's impressive. It's taken months to develop but for those Resident Forum members who submitted their ideas and those of us who took the time to scrutinise each page it gratifying to see all suggestions have been taken on board.
The interactive repairs online section is so simple and fun to use - a programme used by other authorities it makes the whole process so simple.
There are still parts to be included or tweaked - Many of the online reporting options haven't as yet become live but it is hoped by the end of the year a full online service will be a available and will reduce to need for so many telephone calls.
The anti social behaviour and harassment section is just brilliant. It's been set out in two sections so it's clear which type of conduct fall within which category. This was the key element that all forum members have been most vocal about. Insisting that residents should see some positive action taken in resolving issues one way or another. Partners have since employed a dedicated Antisocial/Harassment officer.
In another development Partners Residents have the Latest August Gazette landing on their doormat. The headline article confirms that PFI 1 refurbishment programmes is now complete.Most residents are satisfied with the improvement to their homes.
Also as a result of so many questions from residents another informative article Scaffold safety explains why when the scaffolding's first erected covered by blue netting, it is several week before any work is seen to done - It's a workers Health and Safety issue which by law now requires certification. How long it is up - The estimated time is 3 months, longer if there are some major works involved. Not very comfortable for those living in the property but there's no way around it.
PFI2 is on going. They haven't reached my street yet, that's scheduled for around April 2009, next year but they are creeping forward. Many of the properties in the street behind have the recognisable blue netting around some of the properties.
Labels: PFI 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
It pays to be nice to people
Earlier in the week, in the pouring rain noticed little gremlins planting flowers and filling up the compost they removed. Should think so to. Three days of them prancing around but it looks lovely AGAIN. Even better than before. The junk has been removed as well leaving just the mountain of green boxes.
In two hours couldn't believe what they had done, repaired both sections of the wall with new cross-bars - a professional job. Looks amazing. When the hedge grows it will cover the bar and make the property look more private.
London's 24 hour bus strike
It's been widely reported that many London bus routes are on strike this morning. A 24 hour walk out until 0300 tomorrow morning - 160 bus routes affected
Most of the buses around here are operated by Metroline, one of the companies involved.
After witnessing kids trooping to school and queues of cars with mums carrying others, I presumed everybody had got the message and would make alternative travel arrangements.
Out a few minutes later. Couldn't believe my eyes when at the local 390 bus stop people in suits were standing there like lemons waiting for a bus obviously to get them to work. Two local characters with a takeaway cup of tea crossed the road and sat down on the bus stop seat to chat. All those standing just completely ignored them.
As I passed, the couple made a joke about the seat and the information notice at the bus stop. Couldn't help but laugh. What did the other people do? Not ask questions as I would have done but with embarrassed looks on their faces, one by one they took turns to read the notice. They only dispersed when the couple made a witty comment about them all being late if they continued to stand there.
Just shows how some people are completely oblivious to what is going on around them.
Labels: London News
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
A belated post: BBRU 190 & 189
My apology to those that like a good read - I'm a bit lapse in posting the weekly British Blog Roundup links but..... Last weekend the host was Matt Wardman
BBRU 190 (6th October 2008), The Wardman Wire - The Not on the Internet Edition
The weekend before it was the turn of
BBRU 189 (29th September 2008), A Very British Dude - the War on Censorship Edition
Just remind readers again: Anybody out there in Blogospere can nominate a post as long as it's a British Blog. All nominations should be sent to britblog [at] gmail [dot] com.
Labels: Britblog roundup
Monday, October 06, 2008
Those Peers and the EEC
Since Gordon Brown announced the appointment of Baroness Ashton as an European Commissioner, I've been wondering how they were going to get round the regulation that bans EEC legislators from having dual mandates - sitting in their respective countries legislatures as well.
From 2009 this also applies to Members of the European Parliament.
Unlike members of Parliament, membership of the House of Lords is a life peerage with no option allowed for resignations under any circumstances. Islington's Baroness Sarah Ludford successfully campaigned to have the regulations changed, statutory instrument 2008 No. 1647 so that those holding life Peerages could have their membership of the Lords suspended during the duration of their tenure of office in Brussels. This came into effect 15th July 2008.
This statutory change now dubbed 'doing a Ludford', means that Sarah and other Peers can now stand for re-election in May 2009. However there is no reference made to the legal status of peers who are also members of the European Commission. What is also not clear is whether their title and that of family members is suspended as well and they have to revert back to being plain Mr, Mrs or Ms etcetera.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Camden: Kentish Town (Arizona) by-election
Locals are referring to the The Kentish Town snap by-election called for 30th Oct as the Arizona by-election. Philip Thompson has a lot to answer for since his sneaky flit to Arizona. His sudden departure without informing the local residents has irked so many people.
Would have thought this would be a safe seat for the LibDems, candidate Nick Russell but reflecting on the local mood at the moment, Philip's shenanigans may have an adverse effect on the outcome of the result.
It was widely expected that Siân Berry would stand for the Greens but due to work commitments she has decided to give it a miss this time around. The pollsters suggested that the Greens would walk the election if she had stood. With their candidate now Victoria Green we will see if it's the party or personality that determines the outcome of the results.
An interesting Candidate for the Labour party is Awale Olad, a Somali youth and community worker. He was selected by his local party over a long time Labour activist.
Other candidates Kentish Town by election - statement of persons nominated. It's freaky to see that the BNP have also put up a candidate in this area. Labour's Councillor Theo Blackwell is so incensed, he hasn't minced his words in his post. BNP stands barking candidate in Arizona by-election.
Will be interesting to see the result of this by-election.
Round-up of Partners Fun Day
Now an annual event, Saturday was Partners Fun Day.
Many organisations in Islington hold similar events and over the years they have proved to be a popular way for local residents to socially interact with officialdom. A time for the suits to dress down - they look almost human. The kids love it and for many elderly residents it's a day out.
Members of the Residents Forum are encouraged to attend to talk to the other residents, to help them sort out some of their problems.
This year it was held at the Claremont Project centre in Angel which for myself living in the north of the borough was easy to get to this time - good public transport, tube and bus.
The event was opened by the current 2008/2009 Mayor Councillor Stefan Kasprzyk. In the picture he's with Partners Managing Director John Holman. He and his wife I know quite well as they live up the road from me. Such a kindly person, the kids loved him. They were queuing up to wear his mayors hat and have their picture taken with him.
Everybody was given a jute reusable goody bag. The vogue these days seems to be including energy saving light bulbs. I've been given so many in the past few weeks they'll last for years. Had to laugh at the inclusion of a brush and pan set in the bag. Least it'll be useful in the garden.
Lots of interest in the anti-social behaviour table particularly the new measures introduced to ensure resident cohesion.
The close of the event was the entry number draw of the people who came - 4 chances to win £50. I was shocked into total silence when my name came up. Can't remember the last time I won anything.
I was also given an Electrisave wireless monitor. Not something I would have thought about buying. The website says the gadget will be able to calculate how much harmful C02 is generated from my flat. Looks impressive in the box. When I fathom out how to connect it up I'll use it.
On the way back to catch the tube, couldn't help noticing how desolate the corner of Chapel Lane market looks now that Woolworths has been closed down.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
What a day! Professor David Taylor and Sir Ian Blair to go
Governors of the Camden & Islington Foundation trust only yesterday received the official notification that Professor David Taylor will not be re-applying for the post of Chairman, which will be advertised in early October. His term of office ends February 2009.
Today's CNJ has come up with the front page headline - OUTBURST HEALTH BOSS: I QUIT
Mental health chief admits losing temper at meeting. A MENTAL health services boss has resigned after an astonishing outburst at an annual meeting during which he told a member of the public to “shut up” and described another as a “nuisance”. Professor David Taylor, chairman of Camden and Islington Foundation Trust, blamed his behaviour at Thursday night’s meeting on being “tired” and “emotional”, due in part to a heavy workload.
Also today - Britain's top policeman resigns. For months a dead man walking - Sir Ian Blair's resignation today as Metropolitan Police Commissioner was inevitable. London's Mayor, Boris Johnson made it painfully obvious he couldn't work with him and wanted a new man at the helm.
There are suggestions that this is politically motived. I haven't seen any evidence to suggest this is true. It more about the lack of confidence in Sir Ian's leadership of the Met. In recent weeks all we have heard has been about the topbrass vying for power and fighting among themselves.
What people want is to know how the Met is planning to keep our streets safe - real policing. Many Londoner's frustrated by all the knife crimes and the loss of so many young lives would agree that a change is needed at the helm.
Labels: Foundation Trust
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Islington is blooming but not the frontage of my flat.
Islington borough scooped the prestigious Gold award in this years London in Bloom competition, thanks to the wonderful floral displays on the streets and in local community gardens, parks, front gardens and businesses.
Judging took place in July this year, with the awards ceremony held on Friday, 19 September.
I don't think there is any resident who hasn't observed the impressive floral displays especially along the rather drab main road barriers -. picture of Essex Road.
Islington council are making a real effort to improve the 'Green Islington'. There's a noticeable improvement in the front of many properties which historically have eyesore overgrown hedges, dumped household rubbish and scattered recycle bins.
Only recently I learned that road sweepers are instructed not to sweep under overgrown hedges. Street inspectors are writing to property owners to get their act together or possibly face legal action - a difficult task with multiple flat occupancy in many of London's street properties.
In support of a Greener Islington I've made a real effort to improve the frontage of this property. On a main road historically it's been a magnet for late night drunks using the place as a public toilet with others throwing rubbish, cigarette butts and cans.
To keep the hedge cut is a real effort to maintain, though the comments from people passing when I'm up the ladder is a laugh. However, the overall effect is pleasing to the eye.
To further improve the surroundings along the section with the broken wall, I removed the old damaged hedge and planted new assorted colour hedging. Round the tree, the area was filled up with loads of compost and bulbs and self seeding plants. A neighbour gave me a small shrub which I planted to close off the banked up area. Pots of flowers were positioned to cover the wire stairwell fencing. For three years I've been monitoring the growth of the plants. With the bulk of the green recycling boxes kept in the communal lower ground stairwell area and black rubbish bags out of sight until the night before collection day, the whole place had a cheerful clean look.
A communal area, the inspector who passed this property some months ago commented on my effort - it raises the profile of the property. His remarks made the time and personal expense of it all worthwhile. Really thought others in the property appreciated the new look and would continue to co-operate.
Sadly that's not so. The whole area now looks like a junk yard. Recently chunks of the hedge have been broken off leaving gaping holes. I've actually observed the perpetrators doing it for a laugh - great heifer-lumps who don't work and have nothing better to do late at night. Got some pictures of them in the act.
Imagine my shock to see an adult family visitor to the flat below, who has no legal right, last week pulling up the plants in the front and actually digging up the bedded-in bulbs, removing the compost for her own use. Took pictures at the time.
Since then I've been furious. Can't imagine any of my visitors or myself touching anything the neighbours have done in the communal areas without discussing it with them first.
The young women when asked didn't deny doing it, but when asked about the money for the plants and replacement of the compost she remarked with a smirk 'Get a life'.
Not brought up as part of the gobby brigade, it's not part of my nature to insult people but the old adage 'slowly slowly catchey monkey' certainly applies in this case. I've put up with this kind of harassment for so long overlooking many incidents just to keep the peace but it's the last straw that has finally broken the camels back as far as I'm concerned. The legal route takes time but this time I'm not letting it go this time - the situation is being monitored with the wheels in motion. Petty minded behaviour, it's taken me time to finally agree to taking pictures and recording unacceptable noise levels as evidence. A friend in a similar situation installed back and front CTV, something I'm now being encouraged to consider.
As for my blogging further situations, as it's not illegal to write about actual events, I'm going to post any further incidents or inappropriate behaviour so there is a public record.