January bulletin: Traffic threat, Covid help and more

The new year is starting with a bang with several major issues: Please excuse the length of this email [now posting] but, in these extraordinary times, a lot of good stuff is happening locally.  But first… 

1. Advance warning of a planning application with huge implications for our area. Increased lorry traffic down Holmes Road, Grafton Road and other local streets.


Members will be aware of the empty building in Spring Place, which is the fairly narrow road continuing north from Willes Road. Most recently it was a repair depot for Addison Lee cabs – so we had fairly moderate day time traffic from their cabs.

There is now a planning application by Segro – a huge international company – to turn it in to what they describe as a “last mile depot”. This means heavy lorries bringing in supplies and for those to be transferred to smaller commercial vehicles for local deliveries.

Many of us are relying more and more on deliveries. We would also welcome the creation of proper employment. Siting such an enterprise in Regis Road would be appropriate where there is space, no local residents and traffic light controlled access to the High Street and Highgate Road. But Spring Place is not a suitable site.

The application will involve moderately large vehicles (they say not articulated lorries) which would be delivering goods from 5.00am onwards, and then the slightly smaller vehicles will be going out and coming back all day – up until midnight. Work could continue inside the building for 24 hours, 7 days per week.

As members will realise, this will involve heavy traffic on Grafton Road and in particular on Holmes Road. Vehicles would go past numerous homes as well as CFBL, (the French School) and St Patrick’s and force their way onto the High Street next to McDonalds.

The application has been put in but not yet registered or up on Camden‘s website and, when it is, we will be coming back with more information and asking people to express their views.

The quality of planning behind it and sensitivity to the area may be displayed by the fact that they see one of the main supply routes as being down Queens Crescent! They also mention the potential value of Arctic Street for access – a short, narrow dead end!

2. Desperate times call for what some people may think are desperate remedies. Covid crisis and the strain on the NHS

People will have read the news about increasingly appalling waiting times for the arrival of an ambulance. This is not only about Covid but even if people have other medical emergencies like heart attacks, strokes or broken bones. And once on the ambulance, there are long waiting times at the hospital.

Ambulance waiting times in parts of England ‘off the scale’  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-55581006

We can anticipate some objections to the suggestion below but, as it is said, desperate times call for desperate remedies.

Is now the time for us to try and generate some sort of equivalent of the 1st Responder model that is fairly widespread in the country? They are volunteers who have had some basic training and basic equipment to deal with emergencies until ambulances can arrive.

We cannot instantly create such a resource but maybe we should do the best we can. We have a number of doctors and nurses and qualified first aiders in this area.

It is totally not a question of trying to replace the ambulance service which is brilliant – when it arrives – but if someone is suffering a heart attack, stroke or broken bones do we all know what is best to do while waiting for the ambulance? And what not to do? 

Would someone want support from another neighbour who has some experience in such matters or even can just help with emotional and other practical support – e.g. if there are children in the house who need looking after.

Should we start to exchange ideas, information and resources as a matter of urgency?

We have already had indications of interest within the WhatsApp group (see below) from people who have relevant skills and experience, and who would be willing to join a list of those who could offer some help in an emergency.

Please get in touch if you are interested and indicate if you have training or / or would be willing simply to offer other practical and emotional support. Maybe we can share some practical tips or find online training.

GoodSAMS https://www.goodsamapp.org/ and https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS Jon from Grafton Road alerted us to the existence of this app which has strong blessing from some very well-informed people locally. Maybe this is something we should have put in place sometime ago and we are now running to create some sort of replica of it. If and when this virus is over, maybe we should get better organised about this, ready for future emergencies or even future pandemics

3. Volunteers needed to vaccinate or support vaccinating centres.

We also know that the James Wigg practice are asking for volunteers to be trained in giving vaccines (one or two of our members are already involved) or for acting as marshalls for the vaccine centres. If you are interested in helping email joanne.miller1@nhs.net., or register on one of the national websites – this is from the Voluntary Action Camden newsletter:

Vaccine Volunteers

As the NHS gears up for mass vaccination volunteers will be needed to help with the effort. Local volunteers are being recruited as needed by Health Centres, GPs and PCNs. Look out for local recruitment calls.

Larger numbers will be required in due course as mass vaccination centres are set up. For now, potential volunteers should register on Time to Spare or register as a steward volunteer on the Red Cross GoodSam website.

There is also a lot of information on the WhatsApp group about people getting the vaccinations as well as the important warning that you do not immediately become protected. Advice seems to vary but it is up to 3 weeks delay before maximum protection even from the first jab.However it does mean that there should soon be a group of people who have been vaccinated and are therefore less at risk and could assist more easily with the first-aid issue.

Local information on Covid.

You can find more information about Covid in Camden at https://opendata.camden.gov.uk/stories/s/su29-zfnp

and on a more cheerful note ….

4. How many birds in your garden?

A reminder for everyone and anyone who might be interested. This is the link for the big garden bird watch at the last weekend of January great https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/everything-you-need-to-know-about-big-garden-birdwatch/

And from Dilip and Jeremy:

Birds! Did anyone have birds nesting – successfully or otherwise – in their garden last year? Do you have nesting boxes already in place.

Do let us know if you did. We’re trying to encourage more wildlife in the Inkerman Area and want to find out what species of birds are breeding here. In the next month we’ll be working out how to make the area more attractive to wildlife. But let us know what we have here already including any nesting boxes in place.

Dilip Lakhani and Jeremy Bradshaw 

5. Help for street homeless and food banks

Gary in Willes Rd put out an appeal on the WhatsApp group for clothes and other stuff for homeless projects and got a very good response, but sleeping bags and blankets are still needed.  Also he has asked for help in obtaining chest freezers for the local foodbank. Please let us know if you can help. 

Gary adds: If you fancy getting out of the house and doing some good at the same time, we need people who can walk, cycle or drive to deliver food bank packages to those who need to stay at home. Just turn up outside the Queen’s Crescent Community Association at 1.30pm on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays and you’ll be given parcels and addresses to deliver to. No need to give advance notice and you can do it regularly, occasionally or just a one off.

6. Thinking positively

If you haven’t seen the current edition of the CNJ, it could really cheer you up with some visionary ideas for how Camden could look in 10 years time (including some from IARA members).

The CNJ have worked with Transition Town to produce this special edition – for more details see Transition Town’s newsletter at https://mailchi.mp/84991a667c0a/transition-kentish-town-newsletter-january-2021?e=8a262a47a6

8. More community building and support.

And we are also thinking about more ideas for bringing the community together and helping each other. Local parents of young children have floated the idea of finding someone who would like to read stories over Zoom – perhaps at a fixed time weekly (in the afternoon is best, as some have school work in the morning and afternoons are emptier). We’d be very happy to set up a recurring zoom call if there are story tellers out there. Let us know if you (and your children) would be interested.

And how about other joint activities – a book group, or a group that watches an agreed programme or film together and then Zooms to discuss it … all ideas welcome.

Ongoing support re shopping etc.

Plus, of course, if any of you needs, or knows someone who needs, help – let us know and we can put you in touch with neighbours who have already offered to shop, pick up prescriptions, have a chat on the phone … And if you would like to volunteer for that role – please let us know.

9. The WhatsApp group has grown rapidly with exchanges about important issues like those mentioned above as well as offers of unwanted stuff, warnings about crimes, gardening and nature tips and beautiful photos.  If you want to join, please email us your name, address and phone number.    

Stay well and stay in touch

D & D