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Enfield Green Party News

(NB: The most recent news items are on the home page)

Jan 1, 2015
Housing at Chase Farm

Our Council has announced a public meeting on January 7th to discuss the plans for the new Chase Farm Hospital and the associated school and housing. This is a welcome initiative but it would be more welcome if all the critical facts had been published. They haven't.

The Royal Free Hospital is proposing the building of 500 homes of which just 66, 13%, will be affordable. In view of London's housing crisis these are key characteristics of the scheme.Yet the justification for these numbers - this very inadequate number of affordable homes - can only be found in a secret document, the Financial Viability Assessment, sent to Enfield Council by the Royal Free.

We don't see how we can have can an informed discussion if key facts stay secret and we have urged the Royal Free and the Council to end this secrecy. We are baffled that anyone should think it right to keep secret a key document passed between two public bodies.

We repeat our call here and I hope it will be supported by everyone who values democracy and public participation.
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Nov 2014
Enfield Green Party: Design for Living

Restoring our streets to the people

Our principle is that streets should be places where people can live as well as travel. That they should be places where community happens and that means that we prioritise residents and pedestrians. We are all residents most of the time and pedestrians some of the time. Some people - children, the elderly - only have autonomy when they walk.

This is a matter of maintaining rights, improving health and minimising our carbon footprint.
It leads us to four principles:
  • The places where people live should be quiet streets fit for use by residents, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. We therefore support the Council's Quieter Neighbourhoods programme, though we would reduce the default speed limit from 30 to 20 mph.
  • There are urban and suburban centres where people shop, visit public facilities, etc. For these we favour the Shared Space approach promoted by leading streets designer Ben Hamilton-Baillie.
  • There are through routes that separate the quieter neighbourhoods and link the urban centres. Some of these have cycle lanes and some need to have them - the decisions must depend on the precise circumstances.
  • Finally, Enfield has two major through routes - the A10 and the A406. On these routes motor vehicles need to be kept away from pedestrians and cyclists.
Specifically:
We welcome the Councils intention to consult widely on Quieter Neighbourhoods.
We'd like to see shared space (SS) designs for Enfield Town, Edmonton Green and Palmers Green.
SS should also be considered for Southgate, Winchmore Hill Green, the Carterhatch/Hertford Road and Hertford Road/Nags Head Road intersections.
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Oct 27 2014
Child Poverty in Enfield

The news from the End Child Poverty campaign that almost half of the children in Edmonton are living in poverty should be a source of shame to all the parties of government.

David Holmes, Chair of the End Child Poverty Campaign, has challenged all politicians to "set out a clear roadmap towards ending child poverty which includes the additional actions needed". We are happy to do just that. Unlike other parties our plans are based on research and an absolute determination not to leave people in poverty. This policy is not a "nice to have".

Since much poverty is the poverty of the working poor we would raise the minimum wage to the London Living Wage (currently £8.80/hour) immediately and to £10/hour by 2020.

Since it is inequality, not just poverty, that make the health and well-being of the poor worse than those of the rich we would reduce inequality by outlawing excessive pay. We would pay particular attention to the financial sector where vast bonuses seem to be the result of a defective moral compass! Green MEPs have already taken the lead in capping bankers' bonuses.

The benefits system has become a machine, a complex and expensive machine, more for punishing claimants than for finding jobs. We would abolish the 'presumption of guilt' that guides its staff and simplify benefits. We would abolish the bedroom tax. In the medium term we would replace most benefits with a Universal Citizens Income that would be more generous and much cheaper to operate.

The fact that, as the report shows, housing costs push 14% of Edmonton children into poverty confirms the need for lower rents and property prices. The key to this is simply more homes. We would make it easier for Councils to build council houses and flats. We would take active steps to bring empty homes into use and to build on land being hoarded by developers. We would also support measures to improve home insulation for both comfort and to reduce energy bills.

These policies would, of course, be part of a wider Green agenda to provide all our citizens with decent lives and livelihoods without trashing the planet. It will be hard - but nothing less will do.

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Sept 27, 2014
Cycling matters

David Hughes reports from a cycle lane somewhere in Enfield:

Long, long before the excitement, hope and motoring lobby concern generated by Enfield Council's bid for funds from the London Mayor's Mini-Holland cycling fund, the council had established and hosted the Enfield Cycle Forum chaired three monthly by a member of its traffic engineering group. The meetings are intended to enable the general public to discuss cycling issues with officers and other specialists such as health workers who have an interest in promoting a healthy and convenient mode of travel for short and intermediate journeys. In practice my experience has been that attendees are mainly keen cyclists, often members of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC).

Issues such as speed limits and parking for bikes have long been on the agenda, but in recent times most work has been done on the development of so-called Quiet Ways and Green Routes for cyclists which avoid speeding traffic and utilise appropriate routes through parks and green space. Now the Forum is adding consideration of the Mini-Holland bid to its brief.

The most recent meeting took place on 9th September at the Civic Centre. The agenda included aspects of the routine business of the forum including a review of maps of existing and proposed cycling routes, discussion about promotional activities - which are also an important part of the Mini-Holland proposals - and various events including the then forthcoming Enfield Town show. But then the forum turned to specific issues arising from the financial support provided by the Mini-Holland fund, which we were told is £27m not the £30m or £33m often quoted in the press.

The following are key features:
  • Paul Rogers has been appointed to manage and advance cycling in Enfield;
  • a governance scheme had been drawn up and would shortly go to the Council for ratification;
  • as part of governance the Cycle Enfield Project Board consisting of councillors drawn from both the Labour and Conservative groups plus a senior officer is to be established;
  • consultants for each quadrant of the borough have been/will be appointed to work on the various schemes;
  • so-called Quieter Neighbourhoods (purely residential streets bounded by through roads) were discussed, and the possibility of adding rented, kerb-side, secure cycle storage to their other resident and cyclist-friendly features in common with other north London boroughs noted.
There was also discussion about Shared Space1 which is widely thought not to be favoured by cyclists. However, seven of the eight experienced cyclists at the meeting expressed support for their use, and their concern that Transport for London's Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, is reputed not to favour their use.

1Shared Space is an alternative way of designing and organising streets such that pedestrians, cyclists and traffic have equal priority against a background of a 20mph speed limit and no traffic controls. Drivers and pedestrians negotiate priority by reading the situation or eye contact which is possible at low traffic speeds. Further information is available online.

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Sept 1, 2014
Greens tour Forty Hall farm

A party of Greens and some family members were treated to a tour of Forty hall Farm on Sunday, led by farm manager and EGP member Kate McGeevor. It is a working farm, but also a teaching space for Capel Manor and a place for volunteers to learn new skills and contribute to a growing orchard and the exciting vineyard.
The picture below shows some of them at work in the orchard.

The tour ended with a very pleasant shared picnic before Kate was called back to working reality and the rest of us headed home.
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August 24, 2014
Sloeman's Farm: Response to Chris Jephcott of TES

Enfield Green Party supports the proposed solar array on Sloeman's Farm because of the contribution it can make to clean energy for London. As Jenny Jones AM
has pointed out London is the British region with the least solar energy - just 49MW compared to over 400 MW in the South West.

This is terribly foolish at a time when climate change continues unabated - as witness last winter's floods - and when fossil fuels continue to poison our air. Many urgent actions, not least better home insulation, are needed in order to stop burning fossil fuels without destroying our lifestyles. One of these is the rapid expansion of solar power.

The Sloeman's Farm array will provide power for over 4,000 homes and will avoid the emission of over 6,000 tons of CO2 each year. That's good for Enfield and for the climate.

This is the context in which we have to judge the objections to the scheme.

As expected the Enfield Society has come out against the solar array. The president, Chris Jephcott, explains why in Enfield Society News for Autumn 2014. He gives three reasons:
1. That the array would reduce the "landscape value" because it would look like a large building.
2. That it is sufficiently close to a built-up area that is would constitute urban sprawl, the avoidance of which is the main purpose of the Green Belt.
3. That the land should be used for farming because it is of fairly good quality.

Reason 1: Landscape value
I find this argument strange because the array won't look much like a building and because it simply won't be very visible.

It won't look much like a building as it's much less tall and is not continuous. It will be more like a field of polytunnels. Not, I admit, the prettiest sight but nothing like houses or factories.

The question of visibility is interesting and worth exploring. In fact it's astonishing just how hard it is to see the fields. I've tried quite hard:
South: The fields can't be seen at all from the south due to the slight hill that blocks the view.
West: The fields are visible from the adjacent farm, parts of a private road where there are gaps in the high hedges and fences, a couple of commercial premises and possibly a handful of dwellings.
North - from the M25: Trees separate the fields from the motorway. They block all sight of the field except next to two breaks in the trees. The photo shows the view from near the motorway; the fields in question are those on the skyline. They form a minor part of the view and are visible to cars for a matter of seconds. Perhaps more trees could be planted if this is a real concern.
North - from land beyond the M25: This land is private and no public road seems to have a view of Sloeman's Farm.
East: a public footpath passes within a quarter of a mile of the farm. However the farm isn't visible from most of the path and the photo above represents the view where it is (it's a bit more visible from the motorway bridge but I doubt that many will dawdle there).
In short most travellers near the farm will hardly notice it and there are very few residents to be affected.

Reason 2: Preventing urban sprawl
As Chris Jephcott says "inappropriate development" should not generally be allowed in the Green Belt. But what developments are inappropriate?

Given that the Green Belt exists to prevent urban sprawl it's clear that ordinary urban buildings, eg houses, factories, shops and schools, are inappropriate. Farm buildings are generally considered appropriate. The solar array doesn't quite fit in either category so some judgement is needed.

National guidance (para 91) suggests that renewable energy projects might be deemed appropriate because of "the wider environmental benefits associated with increased production of energy from renewable sources".

For reasons given above this array will not change the appearance of the land so as, for instance, to erode the division separation between Enfield and Potters Bar. It will not generate the road traffic associated with an urban area. And it will not require the services, such as energy and water that an urban area does.

It's our view that phasing out use of fossil fuels should be a high priority and we would therefore treat the array as appropriate development.

Reason 3: Farming
We agree that the current use of the land is entirely appropriate and would be reduced by building the array. It would not be wholly lost since not all the site will be covered by panels and some grazing could continue on the site.

We accept that tasking this land out of agricultural use would increase food miles and thus increase greenhouse gas emissions. However, we have calculated that this increase is a small fraction of the emissions saved by the use of the solar array.

The loss of food production is regrettable but not decisive.

++++++++++++++++
Major planning decisions are necessarily trade-offs and we find that the land would make a greater contribution to our energy needs than it does to our need for food. Energy and food are both essential and the need to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions absolutely vital.

We support the proposal and we hope that the Planning Committee will approve it at its next meeting.

David Flint
PPC, Enfield North
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August 18, 2014
Report on the Enfield Town Conservation Area Study Group's meeting on the future of Enfield Town

On July 30th the ETCASG brought the renowned transport, traffic and urban design consultant Ben Hamilton-Baillie to Enfield for his impressions of how the development of Enfield Town might go. In the evening he gave a presentation on Shared Space and some first impressions of Enfield to a packed public meeting.

ETCASG have now produced a report on the meeting. Please note this is not a formal document of minutes. It is merely their view of the main points of Ben Hamilton-Baillie's presentation and some of the points that arose during the open question and answer session, with a summing up of what ETCASG feels is needed now.

The report will also be posted on the Enfield Society website and on the Palmers Green Community website
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August 16, 2014
Enfield Greens stand in solidarity with Gaza

Members of Enfield Green Party attended a vigil for Gaza at the Chase Green war memorial this evening in memory of the almost 2000 people, including 500 children, killed in Israeli assaults. Two Labour councillors also attended.



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August 2014
Redevelopment of Chase Farm

David Flint reports:

I've just come back from a meeting about the future of Chase Farm. You probably know that the Royal Free took over the Barnet and Enfield NHS Trust (ie Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals) four weeks ago. The new team plans changes - the biggest being
a new Chase Farm hospital.

Planning is at an early stage but here's the current schedule:

  • September: Public consultation.
  • November: Apply for outline planning permission.
  • Sell about 2/3 of the site to a housing developer.
  • Design new hospital
  • May 2015: Building starts.
  • Spring 2018: Hospital opens.
This is very demanding!

I'll pick out just two specific points from my discussions:

Hospital director Fiona Jackson wants to use the Royal Free's experience to address lifestyle-related conditions such as diabetes and obesity through a strong outreach service.

The planners and consulting architects are very aware of of the need for energy efficiency - Chase Farm is currently very inefficient. They expect the new building to reach a BREAM rating of Excellent but not to reach passivhaus level. They are currently considering lots of options.

dcf
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July 21, 2014
Green power for Enfield

The Council
has been asked to allow the construction of a large solar power plant on Sloemans Farm. The farm lies between Whitewebbs Lane and the M25. It will be a big plant - 15 megawatts (MW). That's equivalent to about 4,000 house roof installations and would increase the solar power capacity in the whole of London by 30%.

Enfield Green Party discussed this at its July 2014 meeting. We decided to support the application because of the urgent need to stop burning fossil fuels. We recognise two disadvantages of the scheme but believe these to be outweighed by the benefits.

There would be some loss of arable land
The application relates to 25 hectares of land of which 10 hectares would be covered by the panels. The rest seems to be space between panels, paths, trees, hedges and buildings for power equipment. It's at least possible that some of the 15 hectares could be used for grazing.

However, the land is more important for power generation than for agriculture. It is four millionths of the UK's arable land but it could generate twenty millionths of the UK's electricity.

The land is in the Green Belt
The main function of the Green Belt is to prevent urban sprawl. The building of houses, shops, schools, factories, etc. is not allowed in the Green Belt but some development, eg for farming and ancillary activities and recreation, is.

We felt that solar arrays should be allowed in the Green Belt because they are not urban developments, urban land is far too expensive, because the array could be completely removed at the end of the array's economic life (25 years) and because the scheme could actually improve biodiversity. If treated as permitted development a solar array would not set a precedent for the loss of the Green Belt.

David Flint, PPC for Enfield North
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July 5, 2014
Greens support the London Cycling Campaign cash mob



EGP members David Flint (far right) and David Hughes (4th left) join the LCC 'cash mob' about to descend on the Palmers Green shops.
The cyclists hoped to remind shopkeepers that not everyone is a motorist and that many customers arrive on two wheels or even two legs.
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June 21, 2014
Marching against the cuts

Local activists Jean Robertson-Molloy and Bill Linton carry the Enfield Green Party banner on Saturday's Anti-Austerity march.
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June 2014
A new venture for Enfield Green Party!

From this week's issue (25/6/14) Enfield Green Party has a column in the Enfield Advertiser! Written by your humble webmaster, it will appear every 8 weeks. We are grateful to the Advertiser for this opportunity to get our ideas and policies across - though in just 250 words every 8 weeks it's going to be a challenge!

You can find what we have to say
here.
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June 5, 2014
Cat Hill

Anyone who follows the local papers in Enfield will be aware of the determined last-ditch defence of the former Middlesex University site at Cat Hill which developers London & Quadrant are attempting to turn into flats, opposed by local residents and members of the Occupy movement.

While sympathetic, Enfield Green Party has not taken a very active part in all this, but we can at least now provide some publicity for the protesters by publishing here their
Open Letter to the People of Barnet and Enfield From The Cat Hill Campaign
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June 2014

Could Enfield Town be like Poynton?

The Enfield Town Conservation Area Study Group have invited Ben Hamilton-Baillie, a world-renowned expert on Shared Space, to visit Enfield and give his ideas on how Enfield Town could be improved. He will be here on July 30th and will expound his ideas at an evening meeting in the Civic Centre.

Take a look at this
video on what he did for the village of Poynton.

Here's ETCASG's flyer for the event .

And here's their invitation to attend:

"I am contacting you because you have expressed or are thought to have an interest in the Council's successful bid to the Mayor of London to improve cycle links in the Borough (the so called Mini-Holland Scheme) and specifically with the proposals which relate to Enfield Town.

The Enfield Town Conservation Area Study Group gets together to consider planning applications and other proposals which impinge on the character of the Enfield Town Conservation Area and try to make constructive comments to protect that character and support and promote the enhancement and success of the Town where we can. One of the areas where we have been able to make a contribution has been in the recent updating of the Conservation Area Character Appraisal Document. This identifies the heavy traffic in the Town and the Traffic management measures already taken as being the main threat to the character of the Conservation Area. The Group was therefore delighted at the prospect that the Mini-Holland scheme, whilst benefiting cyclists, could also afford the possibility of bringing about some real improvements to the traffic situation, perhaps through a "shared space" scheme.

It was therefore to our dismay to find that the detail of the bid relating to Enfield Town itself indicates proposals to close Church Street to traffic other than buses and bicycles. This would appear to involve complicated division of the carriageway into cycle and bus lanes with pedestrians corralled onto the pavements, with no improvement to junctions. Cecil Road, still largely residential, would become two-way and take all the traffic from Church Street as well as its existing traffic. Rather than improving matters this would appear, on the face of it, to make them very much worse. The Group feels that there must be a better way of redesigning the Town Centre which will achieve the Mayor's cycling objectives but which will also enhance the Conservation Area and secure the vibrancy of the Town. It is impressed by the many innovative "shared space" schemes already undertaken or projected in London and elsewhere which give greater prominence to pedestrians and enable the removal of pavement clutter, barriers and Traffic Lights in even very busy areas. It hopes that the answer for the Town will be with such a scheme rather than the outdated and divisive measures currently proposed and it wants to ensure that there is a debate and that all views are heard and taken into account.

Accordingly, with the aid of a grant from the Enfield Society, we have arranged for Ben Hamilton-Baillie, a transport, traffic and urban design consultant, to make an appraisal of alternative solutions which he will present at a meeting at the Civic Centre on 30th July. A flyer for this is attached and there should be further publicity in due course. We hope it will be attended by as many interested parties as possible and that it will get a proper "conversation" underway about what changes are needed and acceptable to secure the future of our Town.

I do hope you are able to attend,

Regards

Caroline Carter Chairman, Enfield Town Conservation Area Study Group"
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More on Mini-Holland

Enfield's successful 'Mini-Holland' bid has come in for considerable opposition from small business-owners and their supporters who fear - understandably - that the resulting loss of parking spaces will damage trade.

Enfield Green Party has been arguing that cyclists are shoppers too, and that the improved ambience in shopping centres such as Palmers Green will also be more attractive to pedestrians.

Here's some of the evidence to back up our claims that businesses can actually expect to benefit, not suffer, from Mini-Holland: it's a report prepared for London Councils in October 2012 on
"The relevance of parking in the success of urban centres".

Pages 43 and 66 are particularly relevant.
Page 43 quotes a report on parking in Enfield which showed:
  • Car travel is a minority mode in all of the Borough's centres
  • In just about all the Borough's centres safety is of greater concern than parking
  • Although car users tend to spend more per trip, walkers spend more per week, suggesting that shopping centre regeneration might be better aided by improving accessibility on foot
Page 66, too long to quote here, is worth reading in its entirety but the most relevant part states:
"However in all the studies that looked at shoppers' mode of travel, shopkeepers have consistently overestimated the proportion of their customers who come by car. In some cases this overestimation approaches 100 per cent compared to the actual figure. In the case of Camberwell, in 2008, shopkeepers overestimated the share of shoppers coming by car by a factor of over 400%".
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Published and promoted by Bill Linton for Enfield Green Party, both at 39A Fox Lane, London N13 4AJ