by Pam Taylor
Dollis Park & District Residents Association AGM was held on 3 February 2011
The Chairman, Mike Walsh, welcomed all those present. This was followed by a very interesting and entertaining talk on ‘Fabulous Finchley‘ by Paul Baker of Barnet Walks. Firstly, he spoke about Henry Charles Stephens (known as Inky), the son of Dr Henry Stephens (the inventor of modern ink). Inky moved to Avenue House in 1874 and became MP for the Hornsey and Finchley area in 1877. His second famous person was Richard Cromwell, the son of Oliver Cromwell, who lived in the area which is now Cromwell Close from 1683-1700.
Paul then moved on to two infamous inhabitants of Finchley: Lord George Sanger who was the most important man in circus history during the 19th and 20th centuries. Paul told how Lord Sanger was bludgeoned to death by one of his workers who was suspected of stealing and sacked. The second infamous person was William Whiteley (of Whitely Stores in Queensway) who lived in Manor Farm, Finchley between 1880 and 1900. Apparently he lived with a shop girl who was described as his housekeeper. Whitely was stabbed to death by one of his “housekeeper’s” illegitimate sons, Horace Rayner. Rayner got off scot free after a huge campaign on his behalf and a signed petition which was presented to William Gladstone.
Paul told us about some of the many comedians who have lived in the Finchley area. Eric Morecombe lived at 85 Thornton Park 1956-61; Spike Milligan at 127 Holden Road, Woodside Park 1955-74, who was the founder of the Finchley Society; Peter Sellers at 83 Oakeley Avenue 1958-9 who sold his house to Alfred Marks.
Police Sergeant Alison Preece introduced herself and two PCs, Paul Brown and Colin Barker and talked about the problems with burgaries, the numbers of which did come down last month. There is a 24 hour service at Colindale Police Station and she gave two contact numbers for the Safer Neighbourhood team: 020 8733 5598 and mobile 07920 233740.
She warned that people are knocking on doors saying that they have a relative in hospital and asking for £20 for a taxi. There are also bogus builders telling vulnerable people that they need work done to their roof. In fact, one person paid £10,000 to them. The good news is that there are hardly any street robberies in the area.
There are going to be Safer Neighbourhood cost cutting changes which will probably involve less PCSOs and a merger with East Finchley, the Garden Suburb and perhaps one other district, but they do not know when this will happen. She gave the Colindale main switchboard number: 0300 123 1212.
There was a presentation by Katy Hobson, Deputy Head of St Mary’s School on the school travel plan and the local community. Katie is one of those people who is full of energy and only sees the positive side. She described how they formulated their current travel plan and review which were sent to Barnet Council in November 2010 and approved at the end of the year.
She went on to list the major concerns which included the extra traffic in the area, dangerous roads, crossings, poorly lit areas, various ways of travel to the school and relationships between the school and local residents.
Her talk continued on what they are trying to achieve and their targets, what they have done since October 2010 which involved electing children to be Modeshifters and Junior road Safety Officers, implementing a one-way system from Dollis Park into Lyndhurst Gardens at the beginning and end of the school day, purchasing a bike and scooter rack, purchasing high visibility jackets, carrying out cycling training, organising Road Safety Awareness, re-implementing a “walk once a week” scheme. Katy also listed what is left to be done and what they still want to achieve which included writing to Neil Richardson, Highways Manager, regarding gritting, zig zag lines outside school, speed signage on Dollis Park to name but a few.
They also want to organise more cycle training, maintain supervision levels of school traffic, lead more school trips using public transport, purchase pedometers and set walking challenges. Her talk ended with the request for people to attend their next travel plan meeting on Monday, 14 February at 9:15 am.
This was followed by a presentation by Julian Larkin, MD of C&G Properties on plans for the development of Winston House. He explained that they had, after earlier consultations with the residents association, removed the gym from the proposal and replaced it with three residential units.
The parking has been increased and they have cut back some of the upper storey of the hotel. He showed many diagrams which included the size of the hotel and its impact on Dollis Park, the landscaping of the scheme and what it would look like in Regents Park Road. They have reduced the size of the hotel and increased the total number of hotel and residential parking places to 166. There were many extremely difficult questions during and after his presentation but they were, on the whole openly acknowledged and answered to most people’s satisfaction.
There was then a presentation on the petition to amend the CPZ in upper Dollis Park from Tim Bizley who is a Dollis Park resident. They canvassed 38 people, of which 34 were in favour, 3 were not and 1 was indifferent. They have 51 signatures. This was presented to Councillor Graham Old who said that he would certainly look into this. There was considerable discussion.
There were four councillors at the meeting, two from West Finchley and two from Finchley Church End who spoke, and fielded questions in the following order. Ross Houston of N12 and Jim Tierney of N3, both Socialist councillors in West Finchley. Then there were Gramham Old of N2 and Daniel Thomas of NW4, both Conservative councillors of Finchley Church End.
The business of the meeting took part at the end with lightning efficiency, the minutes of the previous AGM were agreed and the officers relected in no time at all. This is the sort of AGM I really enjoy.