More than two-thirds of unplaced pupils live west of Finchley Rd

** NW6 primary school campaign update **

The latest figures from Camden following the offer of primary school places highlight that the overwhelming demand in the borough for additional primary school places lies west of the Finchley Road.

Of the 153 children across Camden who hadn’t received an offer of a primary school place as of 1 May, 104 – more than two-thirds – live west of the Finchley Road (see pie chart).

As the map from Camden’s own school planning department below shows, there is a strong concentration of unplaced pupils in Fortune Green, West Hampstead, Kilburn wards, plus the western half of Swiss Cottage ward.

Labour councillors and activists have been leading a campaign calling on Camden council to build a new primary school in NW6, to deal with the ongoing demand over the last few years which vastly outstrips supply.

For instance, last year there were still a handful of children without a primary school place in NW6 as late as Christmas – pupils who missed a whole term of school.  This didn’t happen anywhere else in the borough.

Even though local schools Emmanuel and Kingsgate are each taking a one-off bulge class of 30 extra pupils this year, there will still be 44 children – equivalent to another entire class and a half – without a place.

This shows we desperately need a new primary school in NW6. These new figures prove beyond doubt that this is where the real demand in the borough lies.

If the current pressure on schools weren’t enough, just consider the additional demand for places which will be generated by the many new developments planned for the area, like the Abbey regeneration in Kilburn and those such as ‘West End Square’ in West Hampstead. All these schemes will mean more families in NW6, and thus more demand for primary places.

Of course, not having a school place is hugely disruptive for the education of those children affected, and extremely stressful for their parents.

Local Labour counillors will continue to speak up for local parents and campaign with the area’s Labour activists to press for a new school in NW6.

 

 

Acol given new lease of life

Following on from Netherwood, another campaign regular visitors to this blog will be aware was our fight against the closure of Acol Children’s Centre nursery.

Mike (with daughter Eva, who attends Acol) campaignign against closure, February 2011

Whilst we weren’t able to persuade Camden to halt its plans to close Acol as a Sure Start, ward councillors worked hard with officers, parents – and alongside the similar campaign around Caversham Children’s Centre – to make sure that it didn’t mean an end to having a nursery on that site.

Decent childcare is one of the biggest priorities for families in Kilburn and West Hampstead.  Frankly, there simply isn’t enough of it; what childcare there is, is often either inflexible or unaffordable.

As ward councillors, we were determined to push Camden to make sure that what was promised when the decision to close Acol was taken – a new community nursery in its place – was actually delivered.

So it’s great news that Camden Community Nurseries (CCN) has been selected, following a rigourous evaluation, to run a new nursery from Acol.  This will open in September and will thus provide a seamless service when Acol closes in August.

CCN have been operating for 35 years and currently run Sington Nursery in West Hampstead and Montpelier in Kentish Town.

Ruth Keppeler, Co-Chair of CCN said she was “delighted” at the opportunity to use the Acol building and open a new nursery providing daycare for under-fives.

“We are run by Camden parents for Camden children and families. We very much look forward to the prospect of venturing into new premises and working with current Acol users and new local families in the autumn,” she added.

Netherwood saved!

Camden Cabinet agreed last week to the final proposals for a new Centre for Independent Living in Greenwood Place. In so doing , they agreed not to close Netherwood Day Centre in our ward.

This is a superb victory for users, their carers, and supporters of Netherwood. As Labour ward councillors, we’ve supported this campaign to save this important facility in Kilburn.

Kilburn cllrs Mike, Thomas and Maryam join Netherwood campaigner Jane Clinton (far right) as she hands her petition to Cllr Pat Callaghan (on far left) in March 2011

Regular readers of this blog will know what a dogged campaign users, carers and supporters have waged against plans to close it (see also here, and here).

As Labour ward councillors we’ve supported them and lobbied Cabinet Members hard to influence the outcome, and it is truly no more than their campaign deserves. Much has been made about the involvement of celebrities, like Ricky Gervais, in the campaign, but let’s be clear – it was ordinary people that did the hard work here.
So our hats off to them and to Cabinet Member Cllr Pat Callaghan for being true to her word, listening to what users and carers had to say about Netherwood, and changing her original proposals as a result.
It was clear that too much would be lost if Netherwood closed, in terms of both specialist care experience, and the well-designed building which has proved such a nurturing environment for the vulnerable people who use it.
Experts agreed that it would be too difficult to recreate that space as part of the Greenwood Place project, so Camden’s decision-makers did the right thing; they stepped back from their original proposals and let common sense prevail.
We’ll continue to work with Netherwood’s users and supporters to ensure it not only survives but prospers. A great result.

Breaking news: Kilburn Grange Feis festival is off

We’ve just heard from council officers this afternoon that the controversial application to run a ‘Feis‘ festival in Kilburn Grange park at the time of the Olympics has been withdrawn.

It’s fair to say that we haven’t had such a large-scale licensing application in Kilburn since becoming councillors – nor has there been such clear opposition from residents and local groups (see a CNJ report here).  There were a total of 160 formal objections to the application; few applications anywhere in the borough (including around Camden Town and Covent Garden) attract such levels of opposition.

Local people weren’t being NIMBYs, but there were many, many genuine concerns about the festival – noise levels, late-night drinking, policing and loss of a huge part of our local park for three weeks in the summer, to name a few.  Many of these problems came to light at a public meeting organised by Webheath TRA, which I blogged about here.  As your local councillors, Thomas, Maryam and I understood these concerns and lodged an objection too.

The applicant scaled down hours, capacity and duration on two separate occasions; but he clearly misjudged local reaction.  Perhaps if there had been earlier, and more meaningful engagement with residents, these concerns would have been understood and a more acceptable application proposed.  In the end, all the last minute chopping and changing just add to confusion.

So, if you were planning to attend the Licensing Panel which was due to hear the application on Thursday (5 April)  morning, there’s no need now!

We three Kilburn councillors were pleased to be able to stand up for local people.  Now everyone can enjoy the park safely during the Olympics.

 

 

 

Concern over plans for festival in Kilburn Grange park

A number of residents have been in contact to raise concern about the plans for the ‘Feis Irish Village’ to run in Kilburn Grange park from 26 July – 12 August.

The proposal is to erect a big marquee – which could hold up to 5,000 people (although the promoter says he doesn’t expect more than 2,500 at any one time) – in the middle of the park. From the site plan (full application available here), it’s clear that the main central section of the park will be entirely taken up by the event.

Kilburn Grange park (without a huge marquee in the middle) © Mike Quinn

This marquee would show coverage of the Olympics;  other attractions and corporate hospitality are also planned.  The applicant states that doors would open from 11:00 am to half past midnight from Mon-Thurs, 11:00 am to 2:30 am on Friday and Saturday, and 11:00 am to 1:30 am on Sunday, with the sale of alcohol, refreshments and late night music/entertainment permitted up to half an hour before those end times.

The promoter, Vince Power, did organise a public meeting in the Black Lion a couple of weeks ago, but I know that many people – myself included – had very little notice of this and so couldn’t make it.

We all want to see the best use made of our local park.  But whilst big events in the park can have the benefit of providing entertainment for local people and extra business to local traders, this mustn’t be at the expense of residents’ well-being.

I’m meeting the promoter later this week, and am willing to hear the proposals explained in full.  However, I do share the concerns of residents, and (I understand) the police, that the overall scale of the event is too big and the hours too long.

As currently planned, this festival will take over the park at the height of the summer holidays and extend into the early hours of the morning for days on end.  This will be hugely disruptive for local people and I don’t think I can support such a proposal as it now stands.

Also, presumably the event will be ticketed.  I’d like to know more about the promoter’s pricing policy, and how this will ensure the event is inclusive for local families who are really feeling the pinch.

If you want to comment on the application (again, you can see the whole thing here), you can write to the Licensing Team, Camden Town Hall Extension, Argyll Street, London WC1H 8EQ or comment online here.

You will need to quote the reference APP\PREMISES-NEW\001117 and make sure your comments are in by Monday 12 March.   You should also bear in mind that for any comments or objections to be considered relevant, they must address the likely effect of the application being granted on the promotion of the four licensing objectives: prevention of crime and disorder; protection of children from harm; public safety and prevention of nuisance.

We’re be interested to know what you think, so please let us know by emailing mike.katz@camden.gov.uk.

Boris cuts Kilburn police

Last year, when Boris’s police cuts forced Safer Neighbourhood police Teams (SNTs) in other Camden wards to share a sergeant, we thought Kilburn had escaped.

Indeed, Superintendent Raj Kohli came to a public meeting in the wake of the fatal stabbing in our ward and was pretty clear the high levels of anti-social activity and youth violence demanded a full-strength team.

This doesn’t seem to matter to Boris.

Following a meeting with Chief Inspector Michael Walsh, it has been confirmed that, like other, much safer, wards in the borough, Kilburn’s Safer Neighbourhood Team will be sharing its sergeant, Eddie Odita, with the High Road team.

Since summer 2010 there has been a full time ‘town centre’ team dedicated to working on crime on Kilburn High Road, both Brent and Camden sides (this blog covered the launch event).

The launch of the dedicated Kilburn High Road police team in July 2010

This has been really successful, not only in terms of its own clean-up rate, but also because it meant that our ward safer neighbourhood police team could focus on crime on our streets and estates (previously, it had to deal with both).

Eddie, our SNT sergeant in Kilburn, does a really good job, and spends a great deal of time on the front-line – he’s highly visible (usually on his bike) across the ward. On top of all this, our SNT isn’t up to the full complement of PCs and PCSOs either.

This will come as a real blow to residents in Kilburn who have to live with gang violence and anti-social behaviour on a daily basis. Our excellent SNT sergeant should be spending all his time dealing with these problems, not having to worry about organised theft and other crime faced by businesses and shoppers on the High Road too.

Once again, Boris has demonstrated how out of touch he is with the needs of ordinary people in Kilburn. You would have thought that our ‘near miss’ on the High Road in the summer riots, would demonstrate the need for more officers for both teams, not a job share.

Local people I’ve talked to about this are really unhappy and the local Labour team will be campaigning on the issue.  Whether you’re a resident in our ward, or a business on the High Road, I’d be interested to hear your views.  Please email me at mike.katz@camden.gov.uk or tweet @mikekatz.

Latest figures show clear need for new NW6 school

**Primary school for NW6 campaign update**

We’ve had a great response to our campaign for a new primary school in NW6 so far – which is just as well given these new figures which show how singularly bad the position in Camden is west of the Finchley Road.

The latest figures from Camden show that, with the Autumn term nearly over, as of 1 Dec there were still six children in Camden without an offer of a primary school place (see table below).

All of these kids live in wards in the north-west of the borough – and all but one live in Fortune Green, West Hampstead or Kilburn wards.

The numbers for mid-Oct only serve to reinforce this pictue – with all eight pupils without a place at that time from these three wards.

This evidence shows beyond doubt that the problem of a lack of primary places is worst west of the Finchley Road.

And that’s just at the moment.  Given the additional residential developments  expected in what you might call the ‘north-west corridor’ – from the Abbey regeneration in the south of my ward, Kilburn, to 1 Mill Lane at the top of Fortune Green – there are going to be many new families moving into the area.

We should not just try to meet demand, but to build some capacity into the system.  Camden has mooted a primary school in West Hampstead before, but we need to ensure officers understand the nature of the problem properly, and that any new school is two-form entry.

So please sign our petition if you haven’t already doneb so, and encourage others to do the same.

Latest figures show wards in Camden with unplaced pupils are almost all west of the Finchley Road. Source: LB of Camden

 

 

Focus on kids’ services and parking at next Kilburn forum – 13 Dec

Services for children and young people, and Camden’s parking review are going to be the featured topics for discussion in our next Area Action Group meeting in Kilburn ward.

The meeting is on:

 Tuesday 13 December 2011
7-9pm
Kingsgate Community Centre
107 Kingsgate Road, London NW6 2JH

We’re fortunate to be having Camden’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Sue Vincent,  with us to discuss Camden’s parking.  Sue is also the Cabinet Member for Environment, and so is leading on the review of street parking in the borough.

We’ll also be discussing all manner of things relating to children, like the recently published report of Camden’s independent Education Commission and changes to early years and play services with Tim Coulson, an Assistant Director in Camden’ Children, Schools and Families department.

No doubt I’ll also use the opportunity to talk about the lack of primary school places in our area, which your ward councillors have been talking about quite a bit recently. 

There will also be a chance to talk more informally with your neighbours and me and Thomas and Maryam, your local ward councillors, from 6.30pm.

If you want to talk to us about the area action group meeting before deciding whether to come or for any further details, please contact me at mike.katz@camden.gov.uk or Chris Douglas on 020 7974 2736 or email chris.douglas@camden.gov.uk.

 We do hope to see you at the meeting and please tell your friends and neighbours about it.  We really want to hear YOUR views and for you to be involved.

 Looking forward to seeing you on the 13 December…

Kilburn Vale Chapel safeguarded for the future

There was a bit of coverage in the local press (especially the Kilburn Times) over the summer about a planning proposal to demolish Ebenezer Chapel on Kilburn Vale (opposite the Priory Tavern at the back of Kilburn Vale estate).

Many people were concerned about this, not least because it would mean an old building would be knocked down – and we don’t have that many buildings of that vintage in the ward – but also because the Chapel represented a link to the religious history which shaped the earliest history of Kilburn, going back to the foundation of the Abbey in the 1130s.

Camden’s planning officers rejected the plans which were put forward in the summer – but I was worried that still left the building open to the risk of demolition in the future.

Now I’m pleased to be able to report that Camden has given the Chapel a special  status – a “non-designated heritage asset” which will give it additional protection against any future plans for demolition (not that I think these will be forthcoming, having talked to the current owners). 

There’s also talk of compiling a local list of heritage assets in Camden (which would sit alongside buildings formally listed by English Heritage).  If this goes ahead, I’m sure – and would certainly push hard for – the Chapel to be included on such a list.

The Times did a little report on this last week, which I’ve taken the liberty of pasting in below, as the article isn’t on their website.  Thanks, as ever, to them for covering the story.

 

Ebenezer Chapel, Kilburn Vale saved for the future. Report (c) Kilburn Times

 

 

Boundary blues (and reds and yellows)

First an apology: this isn’t strictly about Kilburn, but our neighbouring wards in Camden West Hampstead and Fortune Green.  However, I wanted to post this somewhere, and figured I’d could give myself a little latitude.

Since the Boundary Commission published its proposals for Hampstead & Kilburn a couple of months ago, everyone in NW6 (at least on the Camden side) has been commenting on the daftness of hiving off Fortune Green to the Finchley & Golders Green parliamentary constituency.  West Hampstead and Fortune Green have so much in common, and share so many amenities, features and services that it feels quite surreal that people living one side of Mill Lane could have one MP, and those on the other side another.

Uncharacteristically, all three political parties in the borough agreed quite easily at a working group and then the formal Audit & Corporate Governance Committee (I attended both) to a submission to Camden which objected to this (and other parts of the proposals, especially those for wards in the south of the borough).

Today’s the last day to make a comment or objection to the Boundary Commission – you can do so here, and I would advise anyone who hasn’t done so already to lob something in

Without endorsing their plans, I have some sympathy for the Commission.  They’ve been asked to do an extremely random, if not impossible task – and at a breakneck pace.  Remember that the new boundaries which came in at the 2010 election were agreed in 2000-01!  These have to be signed off by 2013 at the latest – and this is a national exercise.

Here comes the political bit.  If you take an arbitrary number of parliamentary seats, and ask the Commission to ensure that each seat contains an equal number of voters (give or take a small tolerance), you will get some really stupid outcomes.  The thing is, the Commission – under the law that Conservative and Lib Dem government pushed through – expressly can’t prioritise notions of community or identity above the relentless logic of the numbers.  Opposition parites in Parliament said this would happen and, hey presto…

Anyhoo, I’ve posted my statement in full below (in case anyone is interested!):

 

Cllr Mike Katz (Lab – Kilburn, Camden LBC)

Comments on Boundary commission’s proposals with respect to Hampstead & Kilburn parliamentary constituency

 

  1. I am writing as a ward councillor for Kilburn in the London Borough of Camden, as well as a resident in West Hampstead for more than 10 years, to object to the separation of West Hampstead and Fortune Green wards in the Commission’s proposals for Hampstead & Kilburn and Finchley & Golders Green respectively.

  2. My comments echo the submission made to the Commission by the London Borough of Camden.  For sake of clarity, this was agreed by the council’s Audit & Corporate Governance committee[1], of which I am a member, and was informed by a meeting of the Elections and Citizenship Working Party on 10th October which I attended.  I should add that this submission is made on a personal basis, and is without prejudice to any submissions by the main national and London political parties. It is noteworthy, I believe that at both meetings, the proposals were agreed consensually by all three political groups.

  3. Having been present at the parliamentary election count for Hampstead & Kilburn in May 2010, I would endorse the views presented by Camden’s submission about the confusion and risk in marrying up the electoral arrangements and practices of two boroughs.

  4. However, my main concern is about the cohesiveness and common understanding of electoral units, at a time when turnout and public engagement in the electoral process is not as strong as we would wish it to be, a symptom common to many inner-city seats.  It seems logical that voter registration, participation, and understanding of electoral units are all mutually reinforcing.  For that reason, I am happy (notwithstanding my comments at 3) to continue the arrangements introduced at the last election which sees the two Kilburn wards in Brent and Camden represented in the same parliamentary seat.  I know as a ward councillor that the boundary of the Kilburn High Road is solely an administrative one and there is a clear sense of community across both boroughs in the area.

  5. It is for that selfsame reason that I expressly oppose the separation of West Hampstead and Fortune Green wards in your proposals, as both a councillor for the wider area and as a resident.

  6. The boundary between the two wards is wholly artificial.  A length of the boundary is Mill Lane, a local shopping centre which – like the Kilburn High Road – serves to unite residents either side of it, not serve as a boundary.

  7. The two wards are considered as one unit by all political parties (as far as I am aware, it is certainly the case for Labour) and also by public bodies.  Since the introduction of Area Forums in 2006 (changed to Area Action Groups in 2010), the two wards have had a single meeting; and the local police Safer Neighbourhood Teams share a single office close to West Hampstead tube.  The two wards share local amenities such as West End Lane shopping facilities, West End Green (in FG, but regarded as part of WH), the Library and the area’s three stations.

  8. Fortune Green is socially, historically, culturally and in terms of infrastructure, linked to West Hampstead and the London Borough of Camden (prior to that the Metropolitan Borough of Hampstead).  There is little, if any, connection with the London Borough of Barnet, for any but the most northerly residents.

  9. I have already experience concern and confusion from residents and local public service providers about the counter-intuitive impact of this proposal.  For instance, I had to allay concerns expressed by a head teacher that the Commission proposals would mean her school (which is in Fortune Green) would move under the control of Barnet LEA from Camden.

  10. Finally it is worth noting, as the Camden submission refers, that the London Borough of Barnet has sufficient population to make three parliamentary seats entirely within its own boundaries.  It would seem no less harmful – indeed, more to the public benefit – were a large ward such as Child’s Hill to be split between two  Barnet constituencies, rather than have Fortune Green tacked onto an otherwise wholly Barnet seat as an orphan ward, and separated from its natural neighbour in Camden, West Hampstead.

[ends]