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HS2 Update November 2016

December 2, 2016

Our campaign for a tunnel extension

As you know we have been pushing for a tunnel extension as the simplest solution to all the problems that HS2 causes for the area. The Commons Select Committee rejected the idea on grounds of cost but we managed to persuade the last Secretary of State to set up a working group that included LBH, to review the costs. We were concerned about that process and persuaded the new Secretary of State to have the work looked at independently by one of their non-executive directors. Unfortunately, the end result is the same, as you can see from his letter to me.

HOAC

As you know we had persuaded HS2 that they needed to invest in relocating HOAC, and so make sure this valuable facility was saved. The process was running smoothly but the Government became very concerned about what they claim to be a doubling in costs. Therefore they decided unexpectedly to revisit the issue of whether a more cost effective option could be worked up on the existing HOAC site, you can see the letter here. As you may have seen in the local press, HOAC threatened to close. Both Boris and I have worked with Hillingdon Council to try and find a solution. The latest is that HS2 will try and make the original Denham plan work for a max budget of £26 million. If they can’t they will try and find an acceptable solution on the existing site for the same amount of money. If that does not work then they will give the money to Hillingdon Council to work up an alternative restoration of amenity in the area. I believe that the preferred HOAC option remains to move to Denham.

House of Lords petitions

Prior to the petition, LBH reached an agreement with HS2, which is being worked up into a legal contract. It builds on previous assurances around capping peak HGV movements at 550 a day (at less than half the original proposal); removal of soil dumps; movement of the power feeder station on edge of South Harefield; new HOAC commitments and restoration of key amenities such as the golf courses. Given where we started, these all represent welcome mitigation, albeit a big compromise on the tunnel extension we all wanted. Hillingdon Council is right to try and secure agreement on these before the HS2 bill gets what is called Royal Assent. However, we all know that there are too much conditionality and unknowns around the agreement for us to trust it completely. This is the point that I made to the Committee when I was called as a witness by Ickenham Residents Association. We need to make sure the HS2 team that will actually deliver the project have a clear obligation to keep working with the Council and residents, to not only deliver on promises made but to improve them. We received assurances that will be the case, not least as congestion is not in the interests of HS2. Rest assured I will be very persistent on the need to have an agreement and an ongoing process we can trust.

Thank you and congratulations to all residents who petitioned the Lords so impressively on behalf of the community. We have been very persistent and have forced change. We will see before the year end how helpful their Lordships are prepared to be on our behalf. I believe they have a good understanding of the problem, not least having visited the area briefly at our invitation.

Visit to Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner

November 15, 2016

Heath Robinson

On Friday 28th October, I visited the new Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner Memorial Park.

As the first purpose-built museum to open in Greater London for over forty years, the museum is dedicated to displaying the work of the famous artist, illustrator, and Pinner resident, William Heath Robinson.

The Museum opened on 15th October, and replaces a smaller gallery of Heath Robinson’s work which was located in West House, also in Pinner Memorial Park. I find it extraordinary how the Museum has managed to bring together such a fantastic collection of Heath Robinson’s work in one place.

I welcome the decision to keep the new museum within Pinner Memorial Park, as I cannot think of a nicer site, and the new building blends in so well.

As a patron of the museum, I am particularly impressed by the architectural flair of the new building. The ambitious architectural designs have been beautifully executed. It is an asset not just for Pinner but also for the country. I am full of admiration.

Many thanks to Cynthia Wells, the acting Chair of the West House and Heath Robinson Museum Trust, and Veronica Chamberlain the Marketing Manager for showing me around. I look forward to visiting again soon.

Heath Robinson Photo 2

NCS The Challenge Team from Harrow and Hillingdon visits Parliament

August 11, 2016

Students from Harrow and Hillingdon visited Parliament today!

My parliamentary team hosted a thoroughly enjoyable visit to Parliament today.

A team of enthusiastic NCS The Challenge participants from Harrow and Hillingdon made the journey to Parliament for a tour of the House of Commons and House of Lords, before delivering a presentation on the social action projects they have been developing.

NCS The Challenge is a three-week program, focusing on consolidating positive relationships between young people and their communities, across the country. The first week includes outdoor adventure activities, as well as citizenship debates, the second week includes the acquisition of new practical skills in a University setting, and the third week is a Social Action Project.

The visiting participants were in their third week, and as such, had been working hard, developing campaigning and volunteering day plans as part of their Social Action Projects. The campaigning day is intended to raise awareness, and donations, for their social action partner (which is usually a local charity). The volunteering day revolves around a trip to the Social Action Partner in order to undertake pre-planned activities with the service users.

The young people presented very well, taking my Parliamentary team through their plans. Their Social Action Partner is Whitby Dene Care Home, specialising in care for people with Dementia. The young people proposed excellent plans for their days, including a Mini-Olympics for the residents, and the production of creative pieces by members of the public to be gifted to the care home’s residents.

My team greatly enjoyed the young people’s visit, and I sincerely hope that they, and the other team’s across the country, continue to enjoy and learn from their experiences on NCS The Challenge!