John Miles

Wet wipes drying on the outflow grille at Lordship Rec
Sewage fungus at the silt trap on the Moselle Brook

For five years the Haringey Rivers Forum has campaigned for the restoration of the Moselle Brook. Bring it out of its culverts into the open. For a long time the smell and evident pollution in the restored section at Lordship Rec has served as a deterrent. It was thought the problem lay exclusively with the Alexandra Primary School’s misconnected toilets. But they were finally fixed – after a seven year wait - in February 2019. Testing at the Rec last summer showed water quality to be improving.

But this year the terrible cloudiness has returned and the Friends of Lordship Rec have been raising the alarm with Haringey Council who are monitoring the test results. Recent site visits with Arup and Thames 21 have supported these concerns - which have recently become more urgent. Last month Thames 21 reported a pollution incident to the Environment Agency and took the matter directly to Thames Water who are responsible for maintaining the sewers. Well done all.

But now there’s a new development. The dense vegetation in the channel at the Rec serves to clean up the Brook. But last week Thames Water had to investigate a report of pollution downstream at Tottenham Cemetery. They went on to meet the Friends of Lordship Rec in the park and found very high readings of ammonium nitrate. They first traced the problem back towards Turnpike Lane and then located it here on our patch in Alexandra Road, clearing a blockage to the foul sewer which they think was spilling over into the surface water system (unlike inner London, Haringey has separate drainage systems).

But the story doesn’t end there. Thames Water have been surprised to find the link to the Moselle from the sewers near Turnpike Lane. They plan to look up the old maps and records to get a better understanding of what’s going on!

Wet wipes drying on the outflow grille at Lordship Rec
Wet wipes drying on the outflow grille at Lordship Rec

This year the Haringey Rivers Forum proposed a catchment restoration plan. Pull together all the duties and powers, collect and share the data, get a comprehensive picture of the Brook and involve the public.

As it is the statutory bodies don’t know what’s going on and only talk to each other ad hoc when things go wrong. Do Haringey politicians have the political will to step up and sort this out? The building blocks are there – a strategy for green and blue space before the Cabinet, Thames Water pledged to investigate the drainage systems in Noel Park, Thames 21 ready to monitor water quality, Arup allowing their senior water scientist to get involved and examine the Moselle Brook catchment.

Flooding, pollution, habitat restoration, climate change and the urban heat island. Surely, councillors, it all adds up?

Behind the scenes there’s quite a lot going on in our bit of N8. We’re still pressing the politicians to take maximum advantage of the opportunity to green and narrow the roadway opposite the lime trees on Hornsey Park Road where the zebra crossing is to be installed. This is in line with the proposals originally agreed by all parties at the planning stage several years ago. And we’re in the late stages of a detailed negotiation with Haringey about narrowing the bend in the road on Mayes Corner. A common theme in relation to both developments has been to ask why we can’t have the same status as Wightman Road and benefit from the weight restrictions that apply there.

Mayes Corner rainbeds
Mayes Corner rainbeds

When the work is completed at Mayes Corner there’ll be a new rain-bed on the south side outside Umoja House. If properly installed, this should take much more water from the road and reduce the amount of contaminated run-off making its way through the sewers into the Lea.  As the vegetation comes back by the benches you get an idea of what a verdant corner this will be in a year or two’s time. Such progress comes at a cost of course: the Hornsey Park Community Gardening programme is desperate for new volunteers to put in a regular hour or two and build up our team. 

Hornsey Park Road in bloom (looking south)
Hornsey Park Road in bloom (looking south)

At the southern end we’ve started a gradual replanting of our wonderful lavender garden. We’re relishing the growth of the hedging outside the doctors where we’ve recently installed several hazel saplings – we’re asking Haringey to recognise our work on this patch better than they have in the past. And we’ve started to regularly litter-pick the area between the West Indian Cultural Centre and the 41 bus-stop. The Council’s focus on the regeneration of Turnpike Lane has made it easier to get bagged-up litter removed. 

Conversations between the Council and the Turnpike Lane Traders Association have stepped up in recent months. Crime and fly-tipping are judged to have been significantly reduced but it’s still a real headache trying to balance the needs of cash-and-carry businesses with those of walking shoppers and cyclists.

Hornsey Pk Rd pavements are still in dire need of repair.
Hornsey Pk Rd pavements are still in dire need of repair.

Plans have been put forward to narrow sections of the road, install trees and to create small enclaves of extended pavement around the north-side road entrances, including the reduction of Alexandra Road to one lane in its final stages. We’ve asked for an assessment of the risks of this displacing traffic on to Hornsey Park Road and pointed out that if rain-beds are installed here to mitigate flooding there will need to be proper plans for maintenance. Meanwhile substantial sums of money will be available to improve selected shop-fronts. 

It just remains to remind our newly re-elected councillors (congratulations, guys!) that someone needs to find a substantial amount of money to refurbish Hornsey Park Road’s utterly disgraceful pavements. 

6.30pm, Wednesday 23rd March 2022 at Grace Baptist Church, Park Ridings, N8 0LD

The offers of accommodation and support for Ukrainian refugees from so many in our area has been impressive and heartening. Our corner of London has a long tradition of welcoming those fleeing conflict and in the process losing everything. While we can’t begin to imagine the horror and pain the war has brought, we can - individually and as a community - reach out and offer help in any way we can.  The Government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme enables individuals to offer accommodation but groups and organisations can also apply with the added advantage that those who come can be supported as a community by a community.

A sunflower in Hornsey Park

We are inviting all those who have already expressed interest and everyone across our community who can offer help or support in any way to meet at 6.30 pm in Grace Baptist Church, 48-50 Park Ridings N8 0LD, to agree and support a group application to join the Homes for Ukraine scheme. The application needs to be led by a competent recognised organisation or group. Ryan King, as pastor of Grace Baptist Church, with his wife Uliana (herself Ukrainian) have offered to lead a group that can represent not only those those willing to host refugees, but also help create the community and support they will need if they are to be able to survive this appalling ordeal.

We think our community and the group application it makes will be uniquely equipped to help by:

With your support and ideas, we will be able to make a group application that will provide the very best support possible for people in need of kindness, respect, and humanity. Please join us, spread the word, and help make this a community response we can be proud of.

We look forward to seeing you at 6.30pm on Wednesday, 23rd March. In the meantime, if you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact us at this address or speak to Ryan directly.  And, of course, pass the word on. We will need all the help and ideas possible to make our offer to help successful and sustainable.

Poster - Meeting 23rd March 2022Download

The meeting is co-hosted by Pastor Ryan for Grace Baptist Church and Parkside Malvern Residents Association (PMRA), the Registered residents association for Hornsey Park. All residents of Hornsey Park and everyone from across our wider area are welcome. Please come if you would like to find out more about supporting a group application to the 'Homes for Ukrainians' scheme or feel you can offer help or support in any way.  

Please place this poster in your window (click 'download' below) and pass the message on to neighbours and anyone who you feel would like to help.

Poster - Meeting 23rd March 2022Download

By Polly de Boer

Hornsey Park Road on Tuesday 19 October

On Tuesday October 20th 2021 our three ward councillors, Peray Ahmet (Leader of the Council), Khaled Moyeed and Emina Ibrahim, accompanied by Bryce Tudball, (Interim head of Planning Policy, Transport and Infrastructure) attended a meeting called by PMRA to address the chronic problems of life on Hornsey Park Road. Seven residents from the street attended, representing six households, as well as PMRA co-chair, Marcus Ballard. Each resident was invited to talk about the issues that most affected their life on Hornsey Park Road. There was a consensus that the pertinent problems are the volume of traffic, causing noise, fumes, pollution (including litter) and vibration; the damage to parked cars, front walls and pavements; the difficulty in crossing the road; the condition of the pavements and the road surface. The layout and management of the street means that pedestrians are squashed into a small pavement often without adequate space for push-chairs, wheel-chairs and mobility vehicles. The danger to cyclists was emphasised. The bends and varying width of the carriage-way encourages drivers to speed up, exceed the twenty mile an hour speed limit particularly on the southern section and by Mayes Corner at night. In many households residents have retreated to the back of their houses, leaving the street feeling unoccupied and darker for pedestrians.

Residents feel we have been neglected by the Council. Those present brought a hundred years’ experience of living on Hornsey Park Road and had raised these problems over many years without seeing any action. In discussion it was recognised that although the street is a continuation of Wightman Road (but without the weight restriction) it has never received the same level of attention or resources to improve it. A specific instance of our grievances has been the failure by Haringey and St William to provide a high quality plan for the area in the middle of the street opposite the lime-trees. We believe this area should be designed both to reduce traffic speed and provide a safe crossing to the new children’s playground and PMRA has itself proposed greening and traffic-calming measures. We want to see Haringey’s proposal upgraded to deliver this which repeated consultation has failed to achieve. Another area of concern has been the repeated closure of Mary Neuner Road over what is now a two-year period. This has made all the problems in Hornsey Park Road worse. PMRA considers Haringey has repeatedly made these decisions (at St William’s request) without taking the needs of residents into account and without consultation or discussion of the consequences with us. It hasn’t helped that officers and members so often seem to bring no awareness of past decisions and commitments and sometimes to believe measures to have been enacted which never have. 

The purpose of this meeting was to urge our councillors to adopt improving the lives of the Hornsey Park Road community as a political priority and to work with us to adopt a strategy that takes account of the centrality and importance of the street to Wood Green as a whole*.  It is nearly a year since we took our petition, signed by 374 people, to full Council - an effort which has come to feel as if it achieved nothing. We were heartened that all three councillors and Mr Tudball listened to our presentations, expressed an understanding of the problems and committed to taking the matter seriously. PMRA members and Hornsey Park Road residents now look forward to practical action. 

*Earlier in the day the emergency closure of the High Road meant the full diversion of traffic on to HPR – a reminder of how it was remodelled fifty years ago as the Wood Green ‘relief road’.

John Miles

Jayshree and Eugene bagging up, Dorothy with her back turned
Jayshree and Eugene bagging up, Dorothy with her back turned

Eight of us got out before the rain last Saturday. We cut back a lot of growth at the Lavender Garden ready for winter. Most of what we cleared has now gone down for composting. There’s a bit more underhand to come off the olive trees. And we’re considering taking out the lavender from one quadrant and replanting in the spring. But it’s still a pretty lively garden, with plenty of colour. And it’s got through yet another year with virtually no watering. Adapting – rather by accident – to the climate crisis and saving us a good deal of labour in the process. 

There’s a chance to talk over these and many other issues at the upcoming AGM at 7.30pm on Wednesday October 20th. We’ve at last drafted our position statement on the traffic management strategy for Hornsey Park and we’ll be presenting it at the meeting. After last year’s successful petition we again need local support to persuade Haringey to take proper notice of all our demands. 

One big question concerns the extent of development in Wood Green proposed by Haringey to meet the requirements of the London Plan. What cities need is more vegetation not concrete. London suffers as an ‘urban heat island’. Concentrating more buildings into Wood Green will make the problem worse – and without doing much about homelessness or people living precariously in Haringey. And it’s not just planting street trees. Recent research suggests we need to preserve and extend actual urban woodlands. That means it would have been far better to keep the gas-works site as tree scrub and allow it to develop naturally – a lot of time, money and noise could have been saved if they’d just widened and straightened Mary Neuner Road and opened up the Moselle Brook. Meanwhile it’s clear that residents provide a massive share of the borough’s tree cover in our own private gardens. So it’s good news that Haringey Deputy Leader and Councillor, Mike Hakata, is proposing a Haringey Urban Forest - and taking an interest in dangerous driving and in the proposed cycle route through Mayes Corner as well.  

A good mulch ready for sifting
A good mulch ready for sifting

Lastly, if you want to learn about composting and how we run a comprehensive system in a Hornsey park back garden look out for my Saturday morning open-air come-rain-or-shine question-and-answer session at Mayes Corner before the end of the year!

by John Miles

Great improvement to Martins Walk
Great improvement to Martins Walk

Saturday was the first of the month. Eight of us clearing and tidying our tiny open spaces and a couple of other people out before and after, this month’s big job renewing the bark paths in the lavender garden. The late spring’s mixture of cold, rain and moderate heat has turned out spectacularly. First everything went green on a massive scale and now it’s starting to flower. Controlled chaos in the lavender garden. Self-seeded, indigenous, plants – ‘weeds’ – have flourished in the rich soil of the rainbeds Haringey installed at Mayes Corner.

Taking polluted water off the road
Taking polluted water off the road

The ‘rill’, which drains dirty water into the forebay on the corner is in place at last. The new trees the Council put in on Alexandra Road and the nearby streets are in good shape. Community spirit is alive and well too – just look at the sturdy new fence a neighbour has installed on Martin’s Walk. Throwing in the repair of next-door’s battered panels for good measure! Our first compost bin is in place at the shrubbery where we’ve delayed till autumn the much-needed pruning of the canopy – parts of the rainbed need more light. The Council has made a good start on the knotweed outside the doctors - we could start restoring that hedge we planned there ten years ago!

The rain washed away our first micro-education project!
The rain washed away our first micro-education project!

Not everything is sweetness and light. People who prefer pigeons still dump food waste by the Mayes Corner seating. Rose branches get torn off and plants pulled up unnecessarily. A loquat sapling was taken from the Umoja bed. Nature is all over TV but everywhere in retreat. The Council still ‘treats’ the greenery round the boles of trees with weed-killer and mows some grass patches better left untouched. The rewilding activist Ben MacDonald refers to this as eco-cide – deliberately killing off part of the food-chain needed by insects and birds. Britain is one of the most species-depleted countries in the world. Haringey has gone crazy felling mature trees even as its politicians and planners promise the opposite. 

Controlled chaos in the lavender garden
Controlled chaos in the lavender garden

The Council intends a new Biodiversity Action Plan. We certainly need it here. St William, for example, have set a council-backed target of 71% biodiversity gain. That’s 71% of what? And starting from when? You wonder how they can possibly achieve this, the loss of habitat on the Heartlands in the last decade has been so dramatic. As the towers go up neighbours at the southern end say they’ve lost all their wildlife. This spring there has been no dawn chorus on the west side of Hornsey Park Road. The song thrushes are gone, the kestrels and lesser black-backed gulls are a distant memory. The daily wood-pecker no longer visits, the wren rarely calls. Even blackbird and robin feel like occasional visitors. No doubt, as the estate is completed, it will get better – the bees on the alliums in the new park are a definite ‘gain’. But, sadly, imaginative planting isn’t the answer. Those vital acres of birch scrub and elder will not come back. Haringey planners needs to take a much tougher line protecting open space. 

Careful mowing round yellow goats-beard in Hornsey Park Road!
Careful mowing round yellow goats-beard in a Hornsey Park Road back garden.

We will carry on regardless, of course. Thanks to the many people whose private gardens make our streets a joy - those overgrown hedges that sustain our growing sparrow population, for example. And look out – sometime this summer that sundial Marcus has been promising will finally appear!

by John Miles

Winding up her first Wood Green Summit, organised on Zoom by the BID (Wood Green Business Improvement District), our MP Catherine West looked forward to the next one, in May 2022. She issued a roll-call of people she’d like to see better represented – young people, faith groups, landlords, the voluntary sector and the Cultural Quarter. It does say something about Wood Green that this event had only a small turn-out. A great deal of effort goes into running the place which makes it all the more disappointing that we don’t come together more naturally. The Mall and its surroundings impose something structurally which seems to cut us off from each other and keep us apart. This lack of joining up was a big theme of the discussion whether in the way it affects organisations and departments or in its impact across diverse communities. New council leader Peray Ahmet promised the C ouncil would be more strategic in Wood Green where in the past it had tended to be piecemeal.

From the business point of view the lockdown didn’t have too dramatic an effect on Wood Green – only 6% of the area’s businesses have closed and some found themselves taking on new staff. Footfall continues to be high. We heard impressive data about the rates of local employment for what Catherine called ’entry-level’ jobs – at McDonalds, Primark and Morrison’s, for example, all paying the London Living Wage. And in the case of Mcdonald’s putting youngsters through apprenticeships and even funding a small number to take courses through Manchester University. ‘Employability’ was one of Catherine’s themes and she wanted to know more about career development and the prospects for life in the longer term.

We talked about the downsides, too. From time to time, particularly for young men on the streets, Wood Green can be a pretty dangerous place. We heard from Joe Benmore the borough’s Community Safety and Enforcement Officer – it does seem a pretty obvious use for empty premises on the High Road (of which there are only eight) that they be turned into facilities for young men and women. Rachella Sinclair from the Noel Park Big Local and I both suggested more be done to engage private tenants, particularly those in multiple occupation, and develop better housing policies with them. Better control of rubbish and packaging, the pros and cons of street litter bins, the need for good quality food and Big Local’s interest in opening a community supermarket were all discussed. The need for better mental health support was touched on, the need to better connect neighbourliness with formal services.

Regeneration have plans for improving Wood Green Common. Catherine pointed to the need for a fairer deal for the borough’s own parks. The restrictions imposed (correctly!) by the Mayor’s ULEZ (the Ultra Low Emission Zone) are worrying some businesses. And from PMRA’s point of view this was another opportunity to raise yet again the predicament of Hornsey Park Road, the lack of a transport strategy for the whole neighbourhood, and the dangerous levels of air pollution that blight it. That just leaves the Wood Green Area Action Plan of which we’ve heard nothing for a long time now. In her closing remarks Catherine West spoke of regeneration now focusing on smaller things and of today’s Summit coming back to these issues in a more organic way. After the grandiosity of the Heartlands developments might Haringey be discovering a sense of proportion?

Last year, 2020, was our busiest in a long time. Despite the pandemic we kept up our conversation with St William about noise and odour, the Moselle Walk (where they cleared a huge fly-tip) and our proposal for a crossing by the lime-trees on HPR.

We carried through our work on the linear pocket park between Martins Walk and ‘Mayes Corner’ (including historical research for a notice board) and collaborated with Haringey on their overlapping scheme for the same site – a noticeable side-effect has been the end of ‘ponding’ outside Umoja House. No more flooded street. Most importantly, with support from MP Catherine West, we organised a petition to full Council. This showed Haringey that residents in ‘Noel Park West’ really, really want to see a reduction in traffic through the neighbourhood. Members of the council’s Cabinet took an interest and, alongside Catherine, we had a meeting online with Councillor Matt White, who is in charge of the Transport Strategy, before Christmas at which the idea of a fair distribution of traffic (bringing in Mary Neuner Road and Western Road) was established and Haringey agreed to look at options for a weight or width reduction on Horney Park Road (HPR).

Compare and contrast: Southbound traffic on the morning of the tube strike, July 9th 2015:

Let’s start with the good news. There is funding for the second phase of Mayes Corner, narrowing the road and greening the area at the back of the Shopping Mall. And there will definitely be a crossing at the entrance to the new ‘Hornsey Park’ - a massive hit with younger children and their parents. But the broader picture is not so good. At January’s follow-up meeting with Catherine West there were no councillors present and Haringey’s transport planners made it clear they do not see how a redirection of through traffic can be done. Beyond the measures already agreed they have no plans for weight or width reduction. While the southbound traffic-calming at Mayes Corner looks promising they don’t intend to reengineer the northbound entrance to Clarendon Road. Their emphasis was all on the Borough’s walking and cycling strategy – as if it is residents’ travel choices and decisions that cause the problem. They were even anxious not to have to consult about reducing parking spaces on HPR. 


Low traffic neighbourhoods map

So has the trail gone cold? Well, negotiations continue about the road layout opposite the lime-trees. With encouragement from Catherine we plan a further meeting with officials about the future of the street. But in the meantime the Council has published a map. This shows its plans for Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) – areas where through traffic is banned. They plan to spend money on this in Bounds Green, Bruce Grove and St Ann’s. The rest of the borough is divided into zones – areas that are already low-traffic, areas that will eventually become so and the through routes that will remain unchanged. Clarendon and the other development areas by the railway are said to be ‘low-traffic’ and most of the Parkside Malvern neighbourhood is intended to become so. But Hornsey Park Road remains a through route. A bit more restricted, perhaps, but its purpose unchanged. Not a ‘living street’.


PMRA proposal for a safe crossing to the new playgound on Hornsey Park Road

So we face an uphill struggle. Not least because the attention of officers will be elsewhere. But we know it’s no good getting bitter. We’re not back where we started in the summer. There are still opportunities to pursue. We are building a better relationship with Haringey’s regeneration team. We have Catherine West’s support and encouragement. A letter to the Leader of the Council is in draft. Councillor Moyeed, who helped engage the planners with the crossing, has called for a weight reduction on HPR. But we need to engage all three of our ward councillors and bring the neighbourhood back together again. The PMRA committee is due to discuss a proposal that we hold our first residents’ meeting online. And, lastly, we have staying power - we’ve been working on this issue for years. But, sadly, it looks like we still have a lot to do to achieve that fair distribution of traffic we’ve been calling for.

In the coming months our area is going to change. St William will open a new publicly-accessible park behind the lime-trees on Hornsey Park Road. There will be a playground and new green space – although, sadly, the Moselle Brook will stay in its culvert for now. 

The park will lead through to Western Road and the Penstock Tunnel. It will form part of a new east-west route for pedestrians and cyclists linking Turnpike Lane and the High Road with Alexandra Park.

A down-side to bringing up children in Hornsey Park has been the lack of play-space. So the new facility is an exciting development. But most residents in our neighbourhood live on the wrong side of Hornsey Park Road – the dangerous, over-used and polluting B138. What better reason to install a new crossing by the lime-trees?

But the current plans don’t envisage that. So we need to act quickly to get Haringey and St William to look again. PMRA is preparing a petition to full council in November about Hornsey Park Road. And following a successful walkabout on September 12th our MP Catherine West has declared her support for our proposals and will host an online meeting with the main parties in advance of the council meeting.

But right now we need a proper hearing for our proposals for a new crossing and better traffic-calming measures.

Please write to our Noel Park ward councillors, Khaled Moyeed, Peray Ahmet and Emine Ibrahim to get them back our plans. Tell them why safe access to the new park will be important to you and your family.

JM: 3/10/2020

© Parkside Malvern Residents Association 

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